One of the UK senior judges made it clear that their patience can run out with thousands of “pay up or else” letters that copyright holders are sending out to suspected file-sharers. Moreover, at a trial launched by rights owners to get an order to mail subpoenas to ISPs, the judge compared using those schemes to a huge sledgehammer to crack a nut. Finally, the judge hinted that when the Digital Economy Act comes in force, more of such applications may be unsuccessful.
After thousands of warnings sent out to suspected infringers with demands of cash settlements, it seems like such practice starts grinding gears in the country.
This week Ministry of Sound, a large independent music company came to the court asking for the order to reveal more personal details of suspected file-sharers from the country’s Internet service providers. Chief Master Winegarten was hearing this case, Ministry of Sound Recordings Ltd against Plusnet Plc, with some other ISPs involved like O2/Be Unlimited and Sky. Suddenly, the things went not as good for the applicants as they expected.
Despite the fact that tens of thousands of identities have already been handed over to the law firms representing the entertainment industry, CMW announced that he didn’t possess the appropriate technical expertise to be able to assess the essence or reliability of the evidence in the complaints. Moreover, CMW said that he had been very surprised at the number of letters he’d got from concerned individuals and pointed out that this would never happen if the accusation were true. Calling this approach a “huge sledgehammer to crack a nut”, Chief Master Winegarten wondered why none of the hundreds of thousands alleged individuals has so far been sued.
Observers of the case know exactly why not – all of these letters have the only aim of getting money from the users choosing to settle, after which the rights holders prefer not to risk.
Still, the individuals may have been given a chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel. CMV told the court that when the DEA is enforced, any similar applications for such court orders may be unsuccessful. He also refused to grant the applicant a court order, saying that he’d got concerns from the public which must be addressed first. Those who wrote those letters may be sure they’ve been finally heard.