Ministry of Sound Recordings (MoS) is reviewing its policy of sending letters to alleged filesharers, following a recent court ruling criticising such activity.
One high-profile law firm responsible for sending out hundreds of threatening letters to alleged fileshares, ACS:Law, recently stopped trading, following intense criticism of its strong-arm tactics on behalf of its client MediaCAT.
The end of threatening letters?
ACS:Law targeted alleged illegal file-sharers and demanded money from them to avoid court action.
Following the demise of ACS:Law, the Ministry of Sound has now admitted that while it still plans to continue its "fight against piracy" that the record label has also "noted the judge's comments and will, of course, address these as part of any future actions.'
An MoS spokesperson told Which? this month: "We're undertaking a thorough review of how to proceed and as part of that exercise we will be reviewing the existing cases and previous letters."
For the average man on the internet, this recent ruling basically means that it is going to be "more difficult for content and rights owners to speculatively bombard potential file-sharers with letters demanding money," as IP expert Kim Walker, a partner at legal firm Pinsent Masons explained to TechRadar.
"In other words, they are not going to be able to use their lawyers as a profit centre – sending out letters effectively claiming money to scare people into paying up – instead of having to produce evidence that they might be embarrassed with, such as producing evidence of downloading pornographic films and so on.
"Following this, if you are going to make a claim that a third party is infringing your copyright you have to be very clear on what evidence you have… in other words you cannot just fire out letters in the hope of bullying people into paying you some money."
The Ministry of Sound, via its law firm Gallant Macmillan Solicitors, has to date issued over 1,500 letters to consumers accusing them of illegally obtaining and sharing copyrighted music files, requesting £375 in compensation and costs from each alleged filesharer.
Deborah Prince, head of Which? in-house legal, said of this campaign: "Judge Birss made it clear in his judgement that copyright owners can't say for certain that an IP address proves file sharing or that not securing your wi-fi makes you liable, [so] the MoS will require a wholesale reform of previous tactics."