Broadband News

File sharing court order hearing adjourned until 2011

Another law firm Gallant Macmillan acting on behalf of the record label Ministry of Sound was at London's High Court on Monday seeking to obtain court order revealing the names and addresses of users from Plusnet, Sky, Be.

The case was adjourned to be heard again on 11th January 2011, with BT lawyers requesting to see details of the security system where customer details that would be handed over would be stored. This is in response to the news last week of the exposure of customer information via leaks from ACS:Law.

There is some degree of irony in BT's lawyers seeking an adjournment on the security front, since it was discovered that Plusnet customer information had been passed onto ACS:Law via BT in an unencrypted format. The resultant uproar would appear to have made BT more careful and less trusting of third parties obtaining court orders to reveal customer information. Interestingly there are now calls for a test case, which we would presume is lawyers and firms now questioning how accurate IP tracking software used in these cases is.

Worryingly, Gallant Macmillan are asking for some of the details of the January case to be conducted in private for security reasons. The worry here would appear to be that if details of how they store data obtained via the court order became public, it may attract people to attack it to try and obtain it. Hopefully this will not result in the parts of the case where accuracy of the IP data is called into question, or other parts of the case that are of clear public interest being held in private.

Once the Digital Economy Act (DEA) is in place, how copyright infringement is handled may change, though it may not completely stop cases like this occurring. One advantage of the DEA is that the rights holder will not find out who the details of an IP address holder are until the third letter. If the information is wrong, the appeals process will hopefully work sufficiently that if a high false positive rate is seen, rights holders will address how they collect their data.

Illegal file sharing is believed to form a large chunk of broadband traffic, but it is not always clear whether this is down to a small number of users downloading a lot, or a more widespread use of things like torrents to obtain copyrighted material without rights holder permission. While we see a lot of protests from people who have received letters from law firms, until a number of test cases have been heard it is impossible to tell if the voices of protestation are attempts to evade the costs, or all of them are genuine mistakes. The flip side is that the rights holders (which for music is very often not the artist themselves) need to adapt to the broadband age, for example does a film download onto a games console really cost as much to provide as having a high street store where films can be purchased? Another thing needing to change is the trading of rights as commodities, with investors buying up the rights to material as an investment.

Comments

FYI: "obtain copyrighted material for free" is so broad it would include open source things distributed completely legally

  • awoodland
  • over 6 years ago

"copyrighted material without rights holder permission"

PResume thats a better phrasing. How much torrent data is open source? Personally pretty HTTP for open source code/projects.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 6 years ago

Firstly well done to BT for requesting all the details of systems used this time before just handing over customers information. I guess they can learn by mistakes, lets hope they stick to their guns and refuse unless this latest pack of jokers can provide evidence they wont be as clueless as ACS law....... Oh and BTW they probably will be as clueless as ACS law and BT and any ISP should challenge this company... Gallant Macmillan have hired an ex-trainee solicitor named Terence Tsang who also previously had ACS Law and Davenport Lyons connections.

  • CARPETBURN
  • over 6 years ago

Could this be the 3rd rebranding of the same bunch of ass clowns? Tsang apparntely (dunno if true) cant be looked into by the SRA as he has only ever been a trainee. Not fishy at all ;)

  • CARPETBURN
  • over 6 years ago

@andrew

Just like to point out that downloading copyrighted material without the rights holders' permission isn't a violation of civil law, only uploading, many writers seem to forget/not know this.

  • otester
  • over 6 years ago

Given default for most torrent software seems to be to provide an upload of what you are downloading, seems fair enough to not always mention this. File sharing networks would not exist if no-one uploaded.

If I had suggested people were getting the letters by downloading from a HTTP link I'd have an edit to do.

As it is, I suspect the majority who use file sharing, are not aware of the uploading from their machine.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 6 years ago

If otester is correct in that downloading is not a violation (I say 'if' because I'm no expert), then any court case must require proof that the filesharer actually uploaded the same file as well.

With the torrent client set to not share 'partial' files, they cannot press for compensation. If they still insist on taking court action, they must be admitting to sharing the file themselves, therefore making it available.

What a scam - no wonder no-one has been taken to court so far. Somehow, I doubt anyone ever will be.

  • greemble
  • over 6 years ago

Laws are badly suited for modern technology, and by the time they're adapted it will have changed again.

The problem with catching file sharers is that the law trails behind by a long way and it's too slow to reform so prosecuting people for illegal downloading will always be hard.

  • anon123456
  • over 6 years ago

uTorrent for example let's you encrypt the upload too. :P

  • Legolash2o
  • over 6 years ago

I have read some those leaked e-mails.in one crossley admits that the way the data supplied from the isp's is being handled, in that it is being passed from acslaw to a third party, and they are not licenced to handle personal data,ip address & subscriber details, thus contravening the data protection act, so he is as guilty as charged without this leak,

  • tommy45
  • over 6 years ago

there is some interesting reading on the torrent freak web site btw

  • tommy45
  • over 6 years ago

@andrew

Downloading copyrighted media isn't a violation of civil law, so why even mention it at all...

  • otester
  • over 6 years ago

It is mentioned, because one can assume that the majority of people uploading illegally, are actually really trying to download the material. i.e. do not set out to be copyright robin hoods

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 6 years ago

@greemble

They have a license to distribute.

  • otester
  • over 6 years ago

"if details of how they store data obtained via the court order became public, it may attract people to attack it to try and obtain it."

Known as Security by Obscurity - what a farce.

  • alan-borers
  • over 6 years ago

You know what's so amusing is that if people can recall the days of Virgin versus BA? it might be remembered that there was an allegation that BA employed hackers to see Virgin's database. The irony was that Virgin (not being large enough) leased part of the system from ... BA!

  • demon_n3
  • over 6 years ago

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