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Court approves letter to suspected O2 porn file sharers

Warwick Ashford

A judge has approved the text of a letter that is to be sent to O2 customers suspected of illegally sharing adult films made by Ben Dover Productions.

In March, the film company won a court order forcing O2 to identify the users of more than 9,000 IP addresses linked with illegal filesharing.

The film company, registered as Golden Eye International, said it plans to pursue mainly those uploading material, as this is effectively unauthorised distribution.

Individuals who "simply downloaded one film" would not be pursued, the commercial director of the firm told the BBC. Julian Becker said the first letter to O2 customers will seek to find out more information regarding evidence of copyright infringement. "Depending on the response to our letters, we will then decide our next action," he said.

According to reports, the letter outlines what recipients can do to negotiate a settlement and warns that they could be found liable if they fail to respond within 28 days.

The judge said the 14-day limit originally requested by Ben Dover Productions was "unreasonable", and hence extended it to 28 days. He also told the firm that it could not specify compensation of £700, but should negotiate a settlement sum with each defendant, and that it was "unjustified" to threaten users with termination of their internet connection.

A statement from O2 said: "We are pleased that the court has taken a robust approach and controlled the tone and content of the letter Golden Eye proposes to send to our customers. We are also pleased that the judge acknowledged the unique position we are in, and agreed that we have approached this issue in a reasonable way."

Fighting online piracy

Action against the O2 customers is the latest in a series of efforts by content producers to clamp down on online piracy.

Courts in the UK, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy and India have ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to a number of filesharing sites in recent months.

Early in May, the High Court ruled that the UK's largest ISPs must block access to Sweden-based filesharing site The Pirate Bay.

So far, Virgin Media, Everything Everywhere and Sky Broadband have implemented the ruling. TalkTalk and O2 are still working to implement the ban, and although not named in the High Court order, BT is also expected to implement the ban this month.

The High Court ruling was made in a case brought by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which claimed that illegal copies of films, books and music made available on filesharing sites destroy creative industry jobs and discourage investment in new talent.


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