O2 hands over customer details in porn copyright case

O2 hands over customer details in porn copyright case

Summary: The ISP has been forced by a court to give pornographer Ben Dover and copyright enforcement outfit Golden Eye the details of almost 1,000 customers, who have been accused of unlawfully downloading films.

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O2 and its Be Broadband subsidiary have sent out letters to hundreds of customers, telling them that the ISPs have been forced to hand over their details to pornographer Ben Dover and the copyright-enforcement operation Golden Eye.

A court ordered the ISPs to hand over details of around 9,000 of their customers, who had been accused of unlawfully downloading pornographic films, back in March. However, the watchdog Consumer Focus successfully challenged that number, and a spokesman for O2 told ZDNet on Tuesday that the final tally was "just under 1,000".

In a statement, O2 said it handed over the customer information to Golden Eye and Ben Dover on Friday, the same day that letters went out to customers, telling them what had happened. Those companies will now likely send out their own letters (here's a sample in PDF format published by the BBC in July), asking recipients to pay a settlement fee or face a court case.

"We can confirm that a Court Order was recently awarded to Golden Eye (International) Limited and Ben Dover Productions for Telefonica UK Limited to provide the registered names and addresses of a number of O2 and Be Broadband customers whose accounts, they allege, have been used to download films from the internet without paying the necessary fees," O2's statement read.

"We did not agree to provide any information on a voluntary basis in line with the [Data Protection Act]. Having reviewed Golden Eye's evidence and arguments, the Court decided that a disclosure Order should be made and we had no choice but to comply. O2 takes the protection of customer data very seriously and has only disclosed what was necessary under the Court Order."

According to ISP Review, Golden Eye and Ben Dover will need to send two letters to each accused person. The first will invite recipients to admit infringement, although it will not specify a settlement fee. The second letter would be concerned with negotiating that sum.

The litigants had originally been aiming for a flat fee of £700 per accused, and had also wanted their initial letters to imply that the recipient must be guilty, based on the identification of their IP address, but the court said no.

NOTE (3.40pm): This article originally stated that O2 had challenged Ben Dover and Golden Eye's application, whereas it was in fact Consumer Focus that did so.

Topics: Piracy, Broadband, Telcos, United Kingdom

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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2 comments
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  • invite account holders to admit infringement...

    my advice is to just ignore the letter. Or if it states that ignoring it is bad in some legal way, just reply that you do not admit to any infringement of any kind. No other information should be given.
    Mytheroo
    • What if you're actually guilty?

      Isn't it then better to settle up than have something like this hanging over your head and avoid the possiblity of a very large award of damages in court?
      MajorlyCool