Copyright trolls are legal firms known that specialize in monetizing the prosecution of piracy, seeking damages. A particularly pernicious tactic commonly employed by such unscrupulous companies acting on behalf of copyright holders is “speculative invoicing,” where individuals accused of copyright piracy are sent letters demanding a cash settlement in return for avoiding legal prosecution.
This has become a growing problem, to the extent that even the UK government (which is usually very much on the side of copyright holders) has issued official guidance on what to do should you receive such a letter. Interestingly, one of the copyright troll companies mentioned by name in this document is Golden Eye International (GEIL), “the holder of numerous film copyrights.”
Golden Eye is now targeting Sky Broadband customers regarding alleged downloading of porn movies owned by Immoral Productions, Third World Media, Ben Dover Productions, Harmony Films and Echo Alpha.
In August last year, Golden Eye obtained a High Court order requiring Sky to hand over the details of customers whose IP addresses Golden Eye has identified with infringement of tiles made by these producers. This is claimed to have occurred in 2014 and 2015.
It should be noted that this is hardly the first time that GEIL has played this nasty little game. For example, in 2012 O2 customers received similar demands over the alleged downloading Ben Dover movies.
As even the government’s guidance notes, however, it is very difficult to prove any such accusation,
“It’s important to understand that the copyright owner can only take action against people responsible for an infringement. This may not be you. Your internet service provider (ISP) can only provide them with details of the internet account holder, but this may not be sufficient for you to be held responsible for the infringement.”
You are advised to respond to the letter (TorrentFreak’s Speculative Invoicing Handbook explains why), but a simple denial that you are responsible discharges your legal duty, and will probably be sufficient to discourage copyright trolls such Golden Eye from pursuing the issue.
Perhaps not surprisingly, though, it seems that GEIL has been using the opportunity afforded by those contacting it to wheedle or bully additional information out of them, the sole purpose of which can be to further its claims. Information requested include the names and addresses of friends and family who have used the accused WiFi, and even information about the make and model of their router!
What to do if threatened by copyright trolls
If you are the victim of these kinds of demands, you should be aware that you are under no obligation whatsoever to answer such questions, and indeed, that doing so is almost certainly a very bad idea.
Basically, the only way that Golden Eye (or other copyright troll) has a case is if it can prove the identity of the individual who downloaded their content. And the only way it can do this is if you tell it. So don’t.
For further information about what to do if targeted over alleged copyright infringement, see the UK government’s official guidance and (much useful in my opinion) TorrentFreak’s Speculative Invoicing Handbook. Note that both these documents relate to the UK, but the advice given in them is also broadly useful for those in Europe and North America.
Prevention, of course, is always better than a cure. So use a VPN to protect yourself – you know it makes sense.