Virgin Media Subscribers Told To Pay 'Thousands of Pounds' To Settle Piracy Laws - Slashdot


An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Virgin Media subscribers receiving letters accusing them of movie piracy may find that settling their cases will be a costly affair. TorrentFreak understands that settlement demands run to several thousand pounds, a massive uplift on the several hundred usually requested in similar cases. Interestingly, however, some subscribers could be immune from being sued. [...] At this stage it's too early to definitively say what factors are being considered when assessing the settlement amount. However, if earlier methodology is deployed it's possible that Voltage's anti-piracy monitoring company (believed to be MaverickEye) will take the BitTorrent swarm size (the number of people sharing the movie at the same time) and multiply that by the price of the Ava movie. As previously reported, this system has serious flaws. However, for people who simply want to settle and move on, paying Voltage a few thousand pounds should make the whole thing go away -- at least in respect of this particular accusation. But what about those who wish to contest the claims being made? At the core of the letters is the assumption that the person who pays the Virgin Media bill is the person who downloaded and shared the movie 'Ava' without permission. 'Assumption' is key here since Voltage acknowledges that may not be the case and someone else in a household could be liable. If the bill payer did not carry out the infringement and did not authorize/allow someone else to do so, under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act they are not liable. This means that they can issue a direct denial to Voltage but that would not prevent the company from filing a claim if it believes it has a case. At this point it's important to note that any claim by Voltage would be actioned in a civil court where cases are decided on the balance of probabilities -- 51% confidence of infringement could tip a case in the company's favor, resulting in a damages award. That's in addition to the associated legal costs of a failed defense. Given that Voltage is setting the bar so high with demands for multi-thousand-pound settlements, it seems likely that defendants who can afford to mount a defense will do so.

[T]he High Court states that Voltage may not initiate legal proceedings against a minor, which means anyone under the age of 18 in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. This means that if a parent pays the bill and a 17-year-old illegally downloaded and shared the movie, Voltage cannot bring a case against them. Furthermore, the High Court says that Voltage cannot pursue cases against an infringer who is a pensioner. The retirement age in the UK is currently 66 and according to the High Court's instructions, "anyone over the age of 65" can not have proceedings brought against them. In addition, anyone who is considered "vulnerable' will not have to face proceedings either.