The battle against movie pirates in the UK is officially on, and it just might stir up a fair bit of controversy.
A number of Virgin Media customers revealed they were contacted via mail by a company called Voltage, and asked if they illegally downloaded the movie Ava.
If they admitted to the wrongdoing, the users were told they would have to pay a small fine and promise never to do it again - however if they deny any wrongdoing, they may have to go to court to prove it.
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Tracking down pirates
Reports claim that Voltage, a company “well known for tracking down pirates worldwide” according to TorrentFreak, obtained at least one court order from the UK High Court to demand personal information on specific Virgin Media customers.
These IP addresses, Voltage claims, were used to illegally download the movie, which starred Jessica Chastain and John Malkovich.
TorrentFreak says is in possession of one of the letters sent to Virgin Media customers, in which Voltage says it hired a “forensic computer analyst” who determined that the IP address was used, on a specific date, to download the movie through BitTorrent.
“This letter assumes that you, as the account holder for the infringing IP Address, were the user of the relevant device on the dates and times at which Ava was shared without the consent of VOLTAGE. The purpose of this letter is therefore to give you an opportunity to admit or deny that your broadband account was used via BitTorrent in relation to Ava on the occasion specified above,” the letter reads.
“Since the file-sharing is unlawful, VOLTAGE is entitled to bring court proceedings against you if it can show on the balance of probabilities that you are the person who engaged in the file-sharing or if you authorized or allowed someone else to do so using your broadband connection,” the company further states.
“This claim would be brought in a specialist civil court called the Intellectual Property Enterprise court, where liability is determined on the balance of probabilities. The onus would be on VOLATGE to prove these allegations of infringement.”
The recipients have 14 days to answer.
The key issue here is how to prove that the Virgin customer is the same person that downloaded the movie, especially if there are more people in the household.
“We take the privacy and security of our customers’ data very seriously. Virgin Media will only ever disclose customer information to third parties if required by law to do so through a valid Court order," the company said in a statement.
“Any customer who receives a letter should note that the Court has not yet made any findings of copyright infringement against them. This would be a matter to be determined by the Court in any subsequent claim.”
We don’t know exactly how many people Voltage contacted, but according to Virgin Media, it’s a “very small number”.
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.