Court of Appeal judges seem sympathetic to porn distributor's legal argument
Sitting in the Court of Appeal today it was hard not to get the impression that Golden Eye may well get a decision in its favour and be allowed to have the details of over 6,000 O2 and Be customers, who are allegedly guilty of copyright infringement.
Far be it from me to second guess the judges' ruling before they hand it down and I may be completely wrong. Hey it has been known sometimes! And this was only the feeling I got from the remarks made in court, so no one should take my musings as gospel. But chatting after the hearing I was not the only person to have reached this conclusion and by that I mean those who have far more legal expertise than me.
To give you a brief idea of why we felt this way, Justice Sullivan today said that Justice Arnold had made it clear in his ruling in March that he believed that these other copyright owners had the right to seek damages it and there was no argument on either side about this.
Therefore he continued did it really matter which ‘vehicle' a copyright owner used for this - in this case the vehicle being Golden Eye? Moreover the revenue this would generate Golden Eye was a matter for the two parties involved.
Golden Eye put forward a persuasive argument that it is only acting on behalf and behest of smaller companies who want damages for having their copyright pinched. Guy Tritton for the Open Rights Group pointed out equally persuasively in my opinion that this in effect made Golden Eye a claims management company; an industry that has not had the best of press recently.
But what also really concerns me is how these alleged infringers are found. Using IP addresses to track them down is neither full-proof nor that scientific and its use is of huge concern to civil rights groups and internet experts.
There may well be ‘wrong doers' among the 6,000 plus people identified. They should pay their dues. But the room for error using IP addresses is great and is it really up to a company such as Golden Eye to act as policeman in this area?
Although I don't know which companies Golden Eye wants to act for, I should imagine that they are all, or the majority, producers of adult content.
This means if it is granted a Norwich Pharmacal Order many people who are not guilty of infringement will simply pay up out of sheer embarrassment or fear. They will not want what they have been accused of to become public knowledge.
We all know such is the way that British society views porn, that innocent or not of downloading this content, this could cause some people serious problems at work or in their home life.
Christmas may well be ruined for around 2,800 people who are due to receive copyright infringement letters from Golden Eye. Next year may well see thousands more in turmoil.
This is no way in my opinion to tackle copyright infringement but it may be legally sanctioned now.
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