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‘Innocents’ targeted in file-sharing crackdown

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The government’s crackdown on internet piracy has seen innocent users getting caught up in the mire, with more than 150 individuals complaining they have been targeted by accusative letter campaigns.

Over the past year, a London-based Law firm has written to almost 10,000 people believed to be illegally sharing copyright material over the internet.

But consumer advice website Which? has received nearly 200 complaints from disgruntled internet users who feel they are being wrongly targeted. And there may be many others who have been panicked and paid the £500 settlement option offered by the firm.

According to Which?, pensioners are even being accused of downloading pornographic material and problems could continue with more letters to be sent out soon, despite the firm admitting that some cases have been cancelled following complaints.

“Innocent consumers are being threatened with legal action for copyright infringements they not only haven’t committed, but wouldn’t know how to commit,” said Matt Bath, Technology Editor of Which?

And Mr Bath fears many consumers will be “frightened into paying” the £500 settlement rather than “facing the stress of a court battle”.

“These cases have been pending for a long time. I suspect that if they went to court it would be very difficult to prove beyond doubt that a particular individual was responsible for downloading the illegal content,” he added.

Which? has advised anyone who feels wrongly targeted to “rigorously deny it and, if possible, provide physical evidence of where they were when the infringement took place”.

The firm involved has denied claims its piracy detection systems are inadequate and will issue more letters in the near-future, despite none of its 10,000 cases reaching court yet.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

February 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , , ,

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