The UK government, Intellectual Property Office has finally acknowledged the on-going litigation against illegal file sharers in the UK, a recent post on the Intellectual Property Office website gives greater details as to why it is necessary for those account holders who are being accused of copyright infringement of the film ‘The Company You Keep’.
This useful guide includes the following topics;
1. What is copyright infringement?
2. Why might you have received a letter alleging you’ve infringed copyright
3. How did the copyright holder get your details
4. What should you do if you receive a notification of alleged copyright infringement
5. Where to get further advice
In 2015, TCYK LLC was the first of many new rights holders to exercise their ability in the UK to enter into litigation as a ‘litigant in person’, meaning that they are bringing proceedings against individuals themselves rather than handing cases over to lawyers to act on their behalf.
The IPO confirms, if you are the bill payer and you have received an LBA (letter before action), you are required to respond with advice to the rights holder as to any knowledge you have regarding the individual(s) whom have been using your connection for downloading and distribution of copyright protected work.
The IPO also confirms that you can speak with the Citizens Advice Bureau of which is kept up to date by H&B Administration LLP as to the current activity of litigating rights holders in the UK.
As they state, “It’s important to understand that the copyright owner can only take action against the person who actually committed the infringement. This may not be you. Your internet service provider (ISP) can only provide them with details of the internet account holder. Who may not be the actual infringer,”
ISP’s have clear data on not only what IP address is associated with the file sharing at a time but also which device has been used and how many times the work was uploaded (distributed) something that the Court takes into account when reviewing cases. A wiped hard drive or router (which remain the property of the ISP) are no longer a candid way of disguising an act of copyright infringement. Ignorance is not an excuse in the eyes of the law.
Advice from the Government
Don’t ignore the letter, if it wasn’t you, supply the claimant with your defence and/or the information as to who it was that committed the offence, remembering that file sharing is illegal in the UK and has severe consequences for those offenders who baulk at the law.
Downloading and streaming are civil offences, and therefore carry lower claims for damages. File sharing via bit-torrent or what is known as P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing involves distributing content, this is a criminal offence in the United Kingdom.
Who has been using my internet?
It is wise to have appropriate security in place on home WiFi networks, routers supplied by ISPs are password protected so in the event that you have given your password (WEP Key) out to a friend or family member, it’s good to remember that you are still responsible to oversee how that internet connection is used.
Litigation in the UK
Since the reform of the PCC and formation of what is now known as the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, rights holders are able to fast track their claims for damages on an ever increasing scale (amounts under £500k), taking weight off the high court system regarding smaller intellectual property claims.
Whilst the website committed to promoting digital piracy news torrentfreak.com have suggested that it is “there is no requirement of a bill payer to go around playing detective on behalf of copyright trolls” – this is misleading and incorrect, it is in the nature of litigation that the parental top-down approach is used to seek out those who are responsible – you should respond voluntarily to avoid a witness summons.
What is not clear at this time is why there is such a large scale of incorrect information from independent sources available to consumers on ‘how to cheat the system’, there really is no way to avoid being investigated. Once an infringement has been identified, owners of copyrighted work(s) have the right to pursue those accountable (via the account holder) of copyright infringement through the court.