It has emerged today that O2 and BeThere, have sent out letters of warning to their Customers in light of the Norwich Pharmacal (NPO) they failed to defend against Pornographers Golden Eye International/Ben Dover Productions (GEIL/BDP).
The letter is quite generic, but interestingly does point the recipient to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). This is actually significant, as Consumer Focus (who intervened on behalf of O2 customers at the Court Case when O2 acquiesced to GEIL/BDP) won a good victory in ensuring that the CAB would be informed and would have all the relevant information ready for anyone who contacted them when they received a letter.
The fact that O2 and BeThere have included this in their warning letters, must come as a blow to GEIL/BDP as this will give an effective “heads up” for those receiving the letters that they will send. In the past campaigns of Davenport Lyons and ACS:LAW and also Tilly Baily Irvine and Gallant Macmillan, the ISP was forbidden to contact their customers in advance, this seems like a real oversight by GEIL/BDP and could cost them dear.
The Speculative Invoicing model that GEIL/BDP are pursuing relies on people being uninformed and paying up out of fear of Court action, that fear in the past has been fuelled by the previous law firms involved insinuating that an alleged infringer had a choice of paying between £500 and £700, OR face Court action that they could not possibly win, with the threat of thousands of pounds in court costs being awarded against them. One can easily see the stark choice and why so many even innocent people paid up. The evidence against them however was nothing like what they had been told.
Davenport Lyons, ACS:LAW, Tilly Baily Irvine and Gallant Macmillan, were all punished to a lesser or greater extent by their regulatory body the Solicitors Regulation Authority. GEIL/BDP are not bound by this although their solicitor Mark Wagner of Wagner and Co is.
Around December the 10th GEIL/BDP will be back in court to try to appeal against the ruling that they can only claim copyright for their own films, another ten producers are waiting to join the action. As things stand around just under 3000 letters will be sent out soon by GEIL/BDP, however if they win their appeal a further 6000 could be sent. As can be seen in the NPO O2 are charging £2.20 per ip address.
Open Rights Group (ORG) is taking over the appeal role from Consumer Focus, they are seeking support from those outraged by this continuing practice. Contact them here. (I am NOT affiliated with the Open Rights Group in any way, but do agree with the support they give and the reasons they are doing it)
The NPO is here.
UPDATE 2: It is being reported that out of the 2800 IPs that Golden Eye applied for from O2, O2 are saying they have been able to match less than 1000, this is a VERY POOR return by any measure and really undermines the confidence in their Monitoring System.