British court: Porn company can have pirates’ personal information

A British court has ordered that country's largest internet service provider to hand over identifying information for alleged porn pirates—even though it admits the pirates may be innocent.

Mar 28, 2012, 2:03 pm

Internet Culture

Kevin Collier 

Kevin Collier

A pornographer has convinced a British court to hand over personal information of people who illegally shared his videoseven though the court admits some of those people may be innocent.

Simon Honey, owns Ben Dover Productions and is a long-time porn actor and director. In 2009 he founded a second company, Golden Eye, which aggressively pursues copyright interests: its website greets visitors with the words “If you are reading this, then more than likely you have infringed our rights already.”

Golden Eye has a history of acquiring internet protocol (IP) addresses (a unique online identifier) from computers that use the peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent to download Ben Dover videos. It then presses courts to order internet service providers to hand over the owners’ personal information so Golden Eye can sue for compensation.

IP addresses are notoriously unreliable as a way to identify criminals, however. They’re easy to fake, and computers infected with malware can commit illegal online activity, traceable to that computer’s unknowing owner. All of Golden Eye’s previous attempts to sue for offending IP addresses have been thrown out of court.

In a surprising ruling Monday, though, a British court allowed Golden Eye to demand that O2, one of the largest ISPs in Britain, hand over the personal details of an undisclosed number of people associated with offending IP addresses.

Though Golden Eye represented thirteen porn companies, the Justice ruled only in favor of one—Ben Dover Productions.

The ruling is remarkable, as well, because the porn company’s own expert admitted in court that IP addresses are a poor identifying too.

In addition to rejecting all but one porn company’s case, the justice further neutered Golden Eye’s request by rejecting its demand for £700 in compensation from each alleged porn pirate. The justice called that number “an arbitrary figure,” and instead ruled that Golden Eye would have to settle each claim independently.

Photo by myvirtuallady

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Last updated Mar 3, 2020, 7:25 am