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UK Virgin customers to be hit by porn payout threats


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UK Virgin Media customers can expect to receive demands for cash over illegal porn downloads, following a High Court ruling requiring the ISP to hand over personal details of around 800 subscribers to the lawfirm Wagner & Co.

Wagner and Co. (who has worked with notorious copyright trolls GoldenEye in the past) represents four porn producers (all based outside the UK): Mircom International Content Management & Consulting Ltd, Sunlust Pictures, Combat Zone Corporation and Pink Bonnet, and Consultores de Imagem LDA, who have been pushing Virgin to hand over details of over 1500 customers accused of P2Ping naughty videos.

Virgin has faced criticisms in the past over its failure to protect customers from copyright trolls, but according to a statement spokesperson Emma Hutchinson made to TorrentFreak, it put up some considerable resistance to these demands,

We have contested the validity of Wagner & Co’s claims (ongoing for 12 months), asking the Judge to thoroughly review the application and the supporting evidence. We have challenged the reliability of the software used to obtain evidence of infringement (FileWatchBT) and the accuracy of the data collected… The original request was for double the number of addresses than we have been forced to disclose, now fewer than 800.

It is expected these customers will receive some form of demand for cash, although thanks to legal restrictions placed on similar demands made in the past by GoldenEye, these are likely to be less aggressive than those by legal firm ACS:Law, and will not (at least initially) specify a settlement amount. Virgin offers the following advice,

We advise any of our customers who receive a speculative letter from Wagner & Co, who also represented Golden Eye International in action against O2 customers last year, to seek independent advice from organizations such as Citizens Advice.

TorrentFreak however observes that similar attempts in past to extort money from UK subscribers have not been very successful. ACS:Law found itself suspended by the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority for misconduct, and soon faced bankruptcy. GoldenEye International attempted a more softly-softly approach, and while it almost certainly made some gains from individuals too embarrassed to contest the charges, it never took a single case to court.

TorrentFreak therefor concludes that although the final decision is of course up to the individuals targeted by these demands, if they refuse to admit liability or to give into threats, it is unlikely they will be forced to hand over a penny to these trolls.

In future however, we strongly recommend that allP2P downloaders cover their tracks with VPN in order to avoid this kind of aggravation.


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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