Golden Eye International Claim To Follow Court Procedure……Really?
After all the efforts of Golden Eye International Limited (“GEIL”) to “protect their copyright” by applying for disclosure from O2 for subscriber names in their Norwich Pharmacal Order (“NPO”), we get to the situation where GEIL leave those who deny their claim in limbo.
GEILs replies vary, but one constant in all replies remain the same. A sort of “GEIL are very nice people who follow rules and judgements and would never harm anybody or anything”.
That constant in their letter is:
We have followed the procedure laid down by the Court when corresponding with you.
Such noble words, but what does that really mean?
From the NPO Court Judgement, let us see what Justice Arnold said about the monitoring:
For the results to be reliable, it is important to ensure that the monitoring software is functioning correctly. In particular, it is vital that the computer on which it is running has a correctly synchronised clock.
Who knows that? Who officially knows that? GEILs “forensic” expert says he “has identified the clock synchronisation source he used, which he says is accurate to 0.1 second”. Who officially saw that when they did the monitoring? We have to take their words for it.
Any more thoughts Justice Arnold?
Even if the monitoring software is functioning correctly, ISPs sometimes misidentify the subscriber to whom the IP address which has been detected was allocated at the relevant time. This can occur, for example, because of mistakes over time zones.
Maybe I am reading a different Court judgement than the one GEIL are saying they are following.
The evidence we have shows the following:
1) Hash of the content being uploaded by you, along with the content name, size and Torrent name. This will uniquely identify the file/movie that was being shared over P2P network.
2) Percentage of the file/movie that was being shared at the time of capture and detection of the infringement.
3) If you are seeding (or partially) more than one content, we have those identified by the ISP.
4) The P2P software, name and version, you were using and the hash that was generated by your software during that session of seeding or partial seeding.
5) The date and the time of seeding of any piece of the content by you with the index of the piece which shows where in the content that piece of data is. As we ask for just one identification by the ISP, this is a snapshot of this as it was happening. All of this could again be sent to the ISP to further identify you.
If we proceed to Court, we will be able to produce the following in digital format:
1) All the pieces seeded by you in a raw format that can then be inspected and further analysed.
2) The raw capture of the packets sent by your P2P software to the Internet at the time of identification. This is raw data that can be analysed further that will essentially show the piece of the content being seeded by you.
I don’t see this as following procedures laid down by the Court. The Court said that ISPs sometimes misidentify the subscriber. GEILs words are specific and accuse the subscriber as the infringer.
Not enough to convince? Let us look also at what Justice Arnold said:
Even if the monitoring software is functioning correctly and the ISP correctly identifies the subscriber to whom the IP address which has been detected was allocated at the relevant time, it does not necessarily follow that the subscriber was the person who was participating in the P2P filesharing which was detected.
Damn! It’s not looking good for GEILs evidence is it? Directly accusing the subscriber of infringing when the Court mentions very plausible issues as regards the monitoring, it escapes me. I’m beginning to think that Court judgments are not worth following any more. If you are sentenced to imprisonment in Court, ignore it and just be free and go home.
So let us use our imagination a bit and say that the monitoring software is perfect and the “Expert Witness” is clever and the ISP is useful. Let us believe in GEIL for one moment. They had 2,845 IP addresses that were monitored by Mr Torabi (Not NG3 Systems because they were crap for MediaCAT) for Ben Dover Productions (“BDP”). How many subscribers were disclosed by O2? Apparently less than 1,000! 33% hit rate! That’s it. I tried. I tried to believe in GEIL and it lasted for all of 3 seconds, which is less than the difference between the monitoring software timestamp and O2s timestamp (Ouch! Low blow!).
Let’s get back on to Court procedures and get back to the Court judgement and what Justice Arnold says:
I agree with counsel for Consumer Focus that the figure of £700 is unsupportable. My reasons are as follows. First, the Claimants know that an unknown percentage of the Intended Defendants are not infringers at all. Intended Defendants who have not in fact committed any infringements are not liable to pay any sum.
Let me re-align my reality sensors. How silly I was to try and imagine GEIL are right in their claim! I have to agree with Justice Arnold when he says “the Claimants know that an unknown percentage of the Intended Defendants are not infringers at all” and Justice Arnold is specific to say “Intended Defendants who have not in fact committed any infringements are not liable to pay any sum”.
But…..Justice Arnold says more:
Secondly, in the case of those Intended Defendants who are infringers, the Claimants have no idea about the scale of the infringements committed by each infringer. Some might have infringed on a very substantial scale indeed, while others might only have infringed to a minor extent.
Hmmm, I see. So why do GEIL ask for £350.00 per infringement? Oh yes, in the original draft letter GEIL asked for £700.00 per infringement. Why not £699.99? Why is £350.00 per infringement acceptable as a settlement based on the Justice Arnolds words?
I need more information Justice Arnold! Ah, he provided it:
I think that Mr Becker’s response in his second witness statement to the point made by counsel for Consumer Focus referred to in sub-paragraph 60(v) above is telling: ”… it assumes that £700 will be successfully obtained from each of the 9000, when that is plainly wrong. In fact, it is likely that only a small proportion will result in a successfully obtained payment of any sum.”
Mr Beckers words are “it is likely that only a small proportion will result in a successfully obtained payment of any sum”. That is a telling statement. What did Justice Arnold say to that?
This comes quite close to an admission that the figure of £700 has been selected so as to maximise the revenue obtained from the letters of claim, rather than as a realistic estimate of the damages recoverable by the relevant Claimant from each Intended Defendant
Mr Becker, please! Justice Arnold seems to have figured that an awful statement to make! Whatever actions are taken after the judgement, Mr Becker has been shown by Justice Arnold what could be considered a charlatan.
So Justice Arnold says £700.00 is unrealistic and GEIL think £350.00 is realistic. I think Justice Arnolds words “the Claimants have no idea about the scale of the infringements committed by each infringer” gives an excellent clue to what the suggested settlement should be from GEIL. They have the “Evidence” of one download from the alleged infringer and that is the only “Evidence”. That is the value of one video.
Having accepted before Justice Arnolds words that innocent subscribers will be targeted, it is fair to say that the monitoring software will capture those who did infringe GEILs copyright. In this situation, a subscriber will accept GEILs claim and what happens then Justice Arnold?
Accordingly, I do not consider that the Claimants are justified in sending letters of claim to every Intended Defendant demanding the payment of £700. What the Claimants ought to do is to proceed in the conventional manner, that is to say, to require the Intended Defendants who do not dispute liability to disclose such information as they are able to provide as to the extent to which they have engaged in P2P filesharing of the relevant Claimants’ copyright works. In my view it would be acceptable for the Claimants to indicate that they are prepared to accept a lump sum in settlement of their claims, including the request for disclosure, but not to specify a figure in the initial letter. The settlement sum should be individually negotiated with each Intended Defendant.
Hmmm. But we have seen a settlement figure from GEIL sent to subscribers who deny their claim. GEIL are not following Court procedures so much that it would be enough to get Justice Arnolds wig spinning!
Before I start to lose faith in the Courts and justice, I will quote one last statement from Justice Arnold:
I conclude that the Claimants’ interests in enforcing their copyrights outweigh the Intended Defendants’ interest in protecting their privacy and data protection rights, and thus it is proportionate to order disclosure, provided that the order and the proposed letter of claim are framed so as properly to safeguard the legitimate interests of the Intended Defendants, and in particular the interests of Intended Defendants who have not in fact committed the infringements in question.
The most important two words in that paragraph are “the order”. That says it is an Order to GEIL as well as the intended defendants. The “proposed letter” was drafted and approved by Court, and any subsequent actions taken by GEIL after the proposed letter are governed by the judgement of the Court.
I will re-write that paragraph which would be more appropriate for GEIL:
I wish we would have followed the procedure laid down by the Court when corresponding with you.