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150 "falsely accused" of illegal file-sharing


By Barry Collins

Posted on 27 Jan 2010 at 11:52

Consumer group Which? has heard from more than 150 people who claim to have been falsely accused of illegal file-sharing by legal firm ACS Law.

Law firms such as ACS Law and previously Davenport Lyons act on behalf of copyright owners, who employ companies to track illegal downloads made using P2P file-sharing services. Crucially, the firms only identify the connection - and not the individual - responsible for the download.

Which? has long claimed that this leads to people being wrongly accused of copyright theft, because of factors such as open Wi-Fi connections being used to perform illegal downloads without the subscriber's knowledge. Those accused of copyright theft face written demands for hundreds of pounds to settle the matter out of court.

Now Which? claims the total number of people who've contacted it claiming to be wrongly accused has exceeded 150. One alleged victim was a 78-year-old man who was accused of downloading a porn film. "He doesn’t even know what file-sharing or bittorrent is, so has certainly not done this himself or given anyone else permission to use his computer to do such a thing," the man's family wrote.

Other victims claim to be at their "wit's end" following the threats to take them to court if they don't pay damages.

Yesterday, at an event called specifically to oppose the Government's plans to cut off persistent file-sharers, Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone called for Ministers to "see sense" over the proposed copyright clampdown.

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User comments

Maybe these 150 can take Mandelson to Corfu

A weekend away with someone else whispering in his ear (and presumeably contributing to the Labour party) might change his attitude.

By cheysuli on 27 Jan 2010

The governments mentality is that those 150 people should be on the DNA database as they are all criminals waiting for their chance. Mandelson will never listen to anyone who does not have enough money to deserve his attention.

By Amnesia10 on 27 Jan 2010

A point of view from an insider

‘Piracy Isn’t Killing Music’ Radiohead’s Guitarist Says
Written by Ernesto on January 24, 2010
Last year, Radiohead expressed their growing discomfort with record labels that abuse copyrights for their own benefit, while harassing their fans. In a recent interview, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien said that he doesn’t believe piracy is killing the music industry, but that the industry will kill itself if it doesn’t adapt to the digital age.

In an attempt to take a stand against the labels, several well known artists including Radiohead formed the Featured Artists Coalition last year, a lobby group that aims to end the extortion-like practices of record labels and allow artists to gain more control over their own work.

Radiohead and others are unhappy with the fact that the labels, represented by lobby groups such as the RIAA and IFPI, are pushing for anti-piracy legislation without consulting the artists they claim to represent. Radiohead, who used BitTorrent to leak one of their songs, went as far as being willing to show up as a witness against the RIAA in court.

In a new MIDEM interview, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien stands up for file-sharers once again, stating that piracy is not killing the music industry in his view.

O’Brien is no stranger when it comes to piracy. “There’s a very strong part of me that feels that peer-to-peer illegal downloading is just a more sophisticated version of what we did in the 80s, which was home taping,” he said, something the music industry strongly discouraged at the time.

“If they really like it, some of them might buy the records,” he said, adding that if they don’t buy the albums they might buy a concert ticket, t-shirt or other merchandising.

“I have a problem about it when people in the industry say ‘it’s killing the industry’, it’s the thing that’s ripping us apart’,” O’Brien said, adding: “I don’t believe it actually is.”

According to O’Brien the music industry is using analogue business models in a digital age. “You’ve got to license out more music, more Spotifys, more websites selling more music. You’ve got to make it slightly cheaper as well to get music in order to compete with the peer-to-peers.”

Radiohead’s guitarist says he’s surprised that the music industry is still struggling with the digital transition, and urges the labels to “move quicker” and get their content out there at a fair price.

By sayl1000 on 28 Jan 2010

I need some advice please

I received a letter today form my ISP provider accusing me of downloading illegally. Here is the problem. I was not downloading and the account number and the IP address listed on the letter I received are not even my account number or IP address. The only thing on the letter which actually belongs to me is my name and home address. Did my ISP provider mistakingly send me a letter meant for the person who owns that particular IP address and Account number and what can I do about it? They are telling me that I can not contact them about it I can only contact Washington DC about it. What can I do?

By Tav168 on 16 Jan 2011

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