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back to article Mentally ill file-sharer had 'low self-esteem'

A file-sharer made mitigating pleas of mental illness when she pleaded guilty to copyright infringement in a Scottish Court this week. 54-year-old nurse Anne Muir pleaded guilty to sharing £54,000 worth of songs over P2P after an investigation by the BPI and IFPI. But her defence lawyer argued that – in mitigation – she was …

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Give me break!

Well OK , but my sex life is not great and it's affecting my mental balance, so how about I nick a Ferrari and break into a 10 bedroom gaff of an evening just to impress some birds down at the local club! Not going to wash with the Plod or the courts is it?

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Silver badge

If it was caused by a recognised menal illness...

...you would probably get away with the charges that a sane person would. No fine for damage to property etc.

However, as a danger to the public, you would probably be locked away to protect the rest of us.

So, if her actions were due to mental illness, she shouldn't get the fine. If she was posing a danger to the community, she may get locked up, but what physical harm has a file sharer committed?

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Anonymous Coward

Bad analogy

Stealing a Ferrari is theft, you are denying the owner of that car of a physical item.

Copying digital media actually increases the number of copies of that media. So you are in fact only guilty of unauthorised duplication and in many cases you are ensuring something is preserved for the long term.

Recording TV using a video recorder has always been a bit of a grey area, "Erase after 14 days" is often mentioned yet the BBC has recovered countless lost episodes of Dr Who and The Adventure Game due to home made video recordings.

Duplication should be encouraged to ensure that such things aren't lost.

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FAIL

Freetards - doing it for posterity?

"So you are in fact only guilty of unauthorised duplication and in many cases you are ensuring something is preserved for the long term."

Oh, really? Every freetard is the National Archive all of a sudden? Maybe they should get subsidies, then.

The only thing that freetards preserve is old pizza boxes and porn mags. And copying stuff that isn't yours is STILL leeching.

Bzzt.... Fail.

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Recorded for posterity?

I'm sorry, guys. I see a distinct difference between recording something off the television to watch later - maybe much later - and uploading dozens, hundreds or thousands of songs to a P2P network for others to download. Maybe that's just me, though.

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WTF?

Bog off you leech!

"duplication....ensuring something is preserved for the long term"

Jesus, that has to be the best excuse to rip stuff off I've ever heard in my life!! "Yeah officer I did download 125 movies and 3,000 MP3s this month BUT, and I cannot stress this enough, I am ARCHIVING it for future generations, you see?! Yes I am aware there are 5 millions copies of that one album available on CD out there, but you never know when some aliens might land and wipe them all, while my disk copy of the MP3s will still be safe!".

Your feet wouldn't touch!

It's copyright violation, plain and simple! You have broken a law. Unless it is explicitly out of copyright, it's owned by someone, some group or an organisation and they control how it's distributed. Whether they created it or not is immaterial, and the bit I do disagree with is that as they own the rights to it, they can tell you what you can do with it.

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@AC 10:31 GMT

Ah, beat me to it

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Clearly had a real problem

Had downloaded "24,000 karaoke songs" - I'd say she had some kind of problem as well.

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Paris Hilton

None of the numbers in the article add up.

To note: "downloading 30k songs", "8000 tracks", "24000 karaoke songs", "£54k" and "79p per track" --- it just doesn't fit in any way. The only possible way the track numbers fit, is if almost every "track" is present in both original and 3 different karaoke versions.

And the price is even further off: even if all 30k are "different" (so not "8000tracks"), then at 54k that's £1.80 per track. Go to HMV and you find that all non-brand-new cd's come at two-for-£10, each about 12 tracks on average, or £0.42 per track.

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Paris Hilton

Could be a valid mental illness, but....

Assuming this woman only downloaded karaoke versions of songs she liked, that's still at least 7 weeks' worth of non-stop singing. Compulsive hoarding is a sign of mental illness, as is compulsive theft. Assuming she was a bit wobbly about the theft aspect, I can see how she would have derived some measure of self-importance from being a 'go to' person for music. So far, so plausible.

But that doesn't give her a 'get out of jail free' card. We don't let people off killing others, even if the killers are absolutely convinced the voices in their head told them to do it. If I have a manic episode and, say, key someone's car, it's something I may mention in mitigation, but it would be naive of me to expect to get off. This woman maybe does need some help, but that doesn't wave a magic wand and excuse what she did.

30,000 files is, by any standards, a shitload of downloads. If this woman built her self-esteem on being able to share that many files, then it's a great shame it had such iffy foundations. Still doesn't excuse her from the consequences. It's something to be mentioned in mitigation, but not a reason to let her off.

(Bipolar I here, and medicated for 15 years, so I have some idea of what I speak. And Paris because 'mental' and 'sharing too much' can only mean Paris.)

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FAIL

Orlowski needs educating on the subject of mental illness.

...not because of his views on copyright but because of his total lack of empathy or understanding of how a person with these mental illnesses thinks.

It's not about ripping off the music business it's about being feeling compulsion and being obsessively bound to collect everything. It has nothing to do with what they want to listen to. They'll never listen to even a fraction of that they've collected. In fact most of what they've collected will not be liked by them.

AFAIAC this is a total fail by an unimpartial, ill-informed journalist who in this case has written in the manner of a total ****.

And yes I have depression, OCD and Asperger's. I know what it's like. Do you Orlowski?

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FAIL

Diddums

You can add "sense of humour failure" to your list of illnesses, the piece was very funny. People like you do need to get out more.

Are you saying that just because you like collecting things or get depressed, you should get out of jail free? this an excuse for everything in life?

How does it work when you get a speeding ticket - or are you depressed to ever go out?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

"Let me through, I'm a victim"

Interesting post, Kurt, thanks.

Depression and Asperger's have been around for ever: but the idea of pathologising such behaviours is quite new. Making everything a "disorder" is simply another former of social control: Adam Curtis' explored this in The Trap - see Part 2 of the series.

And this is my point, most people with Asperger's would not dream of using it to plead victim status. It may make you a little different, but it does not make you a victim. Most people would have more self-respect than to indulge in such special pleading. They would not dream of using it to escape a conviction. It give everyone with the same condition a bad name.

You also imply than nobody should write about anyone with OCD, Asperger's unless they are suffering from it themselves. Which is nuts.

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Nothing wrong with my...

...sense of humour as my previous postings can attest.

"just because you like collecting things"

Who said anything about "liking" it? Most times it's a fucking curse. Most times we don't actually get to choose that which we collect/hoard.

As it happens I rarely go out. I have no need or desire to do so, but that in no way devalues my comments. I'm in my 50s so I suspect I have more experience of the real world than you.

I've had several speeding tickets in my time. I simply paid the fine and got on with my life.

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Boffin

your crimes?

"And yes I have depression, OCD and Asperger's"

Firstly, thats is terrible, I really hope you have good support around you to help.

But, having all those, how many crimes have you committed and what have you stolen?

Diminished ability to tell right from wrong is completely different from having an illness.

Not saying that its true in this case, but I am sick of hearing law breakers going to court and "claiming" some unprovable illness as a reason for their action. It only makes things harder for people who have legitimate problems, like you.

The best one I heard was a guy who beat up the girlfriend and then robbed a car and his excuse in court was that he was off his head on drugs and booze. WFT?? Admitting more crimes is now a defence??

Why cant people have the common decency these days to just admit when they did something wrong and say sorry? Much more honourable and impressive.

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Headmaster

@Andrew

I didn't write my post to plead a lack of self-control, I didn't write it as a mitigation, or even as a confession-type post. I have no problem being an Aspie. I quite enjoy the freedom it gives me, what with having none of the social filters that restrict most people, a logic thought process rather than a truly emotional one. There are some downsides of course.

I don't believe the women should use it as an excuse to get off, but certainly it should be a mitigating factor.

What incensed me about your report was your piss-taking attitude to what can be an unpleasant symptom of various mental illnesses. You also display a total lack of understanding of just how compulsive this can be. It's virtually a total inability to stop once started. Have you every been something repetitive and then said to yourself "five more and I'll finish"? Well imagine doing that five more, looking at what's left and being totally unable to stop doing the rest regardless of the time of night or what other commitments you may have.

You assessment of an implication just isn't there I'm afraid. I don't expect 'norms' to truly understand what it's like or to feel they can't write about something they haven't experienced. What I do expect though is for an experienced journalist to not take the piss in such a manner. there was absolutely no empathy whatsoever in your report.

Normally I have no problem with politically incorrect 'roasting', not even of things I suffer from, but in this instance it wasn't funny and just seemed to be off-hand and snappy as if it held no relevance in the real world. You implied that it was just an excuse that shouldn't be taken seriously.

Regardless or not of the wave of disorder-itis (and I was only diagnosed 4 years ago), the symptoms are real regardless of the label given to them. I've been this way all my life, yet for 47 years I'd never heard of Asperger's Syndrome. Most times I only tell people about my AS if I feel I may do or say something that is either off the wall or inappropriate.

Yes you're correct, I'd never use it as an excuse to get out of something I'd done wrong. I know the difference between right and wrong, but there are many times the logic of why something is wrong doesn't seem right to me so I ignore it. Other times I have great deal of difficulty doing what is right to a truly pedantic level.

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FAIL

Cobblers

Is it just me or do all people claiming to suffer to Asperger's come off as arrogant? I say "claiming" because it can be a way of implying you have a higher than average IQ without having to shout it. This guy has managed to tone it down a bit but the underline is...

"People really hate me because I have Asperger's and am so much more intelligent than them"

I'm going to call troll on this guy. Not the first false Asperger's claim we've seen on the comments.

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Unhappy

Wikpedia...

...maybe a worthwhile port of call for you as you don't appear to understand what AS actually is.

And yes we do/can come across as "arrogant". It's part of the syndrome.

PS Aspies don't necessarily have a higher than average IQ though they do tend to have a higher than average ability to call a spade a spade without worrying too much about how the news will be received (you should have seen the first draft of my original post, the one that failed to pass moderation).

As for the hate me, well it may come as no surprise to know that I don't have the slightest bit of interest in what a total stranger thinks about me. What I do care about though is when people who don't understand the condition take the piss out of, and make light of, the symptoms.

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Anonymous Coward

If you're that sick of hearing of things why do you read about them?

And I am sick of hearing of people who are sick of hearing of things. The truth is you're not sick of hearing of them or you'd stop reading the papers and watching the news and then you'd stop feeling sick of hearing of things because you'd realise you were being controlled by the very media you suppose is informing you.

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Flame

Nah

I understand just fine. Sorry if I came off as rude, it's not my fault it's part of my syndrome :-p

Pretty much a confirmation of what I said, which is nice.

For someone who doesn't have the slightest interest in what a stranger thinks, you seem to be taking a lot of interest in what strangers think. If this is an example of your emotionless logic I don't think much of it.

You may well be bucking that IQ trend - Although I still reckon BS --- Sounds like a case of Münchausen by Internet.

Ciao

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Stop

Arguments about mental illnesses aside...

Do you know what they call someone who is OCD and doesn't pay for their hording? A kleptomaniac.

I don't care if you are the sanest person on the planet, or if you have three different mental illnesses named after you. If you steal stuff, you should face the repercussions. While downloading songs may not have the same impact as swiping playing cards, it is nonetheless against the law.

Anyone that uses a mental illness as an excuse has said, flat out, I won't stop, because I can't - and need to go into therapy, possibly for the rest of their life, until they are at the point where they can stop... even if that means never going on the Internet again.

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It's just you

As title

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WTF?

Did you read the same article as me?

I don't see any humour in it really, just a biased piece of reporting, laced with viewpoints that wouldn't have been out of place in the 1970s, which is far below the standard I've come to expect of Mr OIrlowski.

I have many aspie traits, and have been diagnosed with depression [fortunately that's under control with medication]. I also do work with people who have much worse mental health problems. It certainly does NOT mean I (or they) choose to use the illness as an excuse, but it SHOULD be taken into consideration in certain cases. I think this case is one such.

If a person had behaviour that could affect their driving, I think due note should be taken of it, but also whether their behaviour might be a danger to other road users (I'm leaving out the places where speed cameras have been put for purely revenue gathering purposes, that's a whole different can of worms). Your attitude is disgusting in the 21st century, and I pity you for it.

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Anonymous Coward

Karaoke 0 Bukakke 1

Couldn't she just have hoarded free pr0n, like everyone else?

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Bronze badge

Sigh

I thought that "low self-esteem" was on its way to join "the vapours", "neurasthenia", and "Oedipus Complex" in the file of disused diagnoses.

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Welcome

advert

I suppose a small proportion of the many who saw this in the Metro today will be reading about Tor and similar programs now.

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Thumb Up

A++++++++++++++

Quality troll, would downvote again.

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Anonymous Coward

Bigotry

"Disconnection would be the best thing to happen to some of these people," he told me. "They'd get out the house, meet girls, and go for a walk."

Nice: "My life choices are correct, everyone else is a wierdo."

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Happy

My life choices are correct, everyone else is a wierdo.

I hope every one else is a wierdo. It would be devastating to find out that it's me.

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Anonymous Coward

I blame the torrent sites

You go along looking for a song or two and end up with the whole bloody discography.

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Is it just me

... or did the compensation/track actually seem realistic in comparision of what buying the same in a legit manner would have been?

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Dead Vulture

All out of proportion

We have yet to see what sentence is handed down here but I do hope this woman is not pummelled with the costs. It is a shitload of music but any one of us would be unlikely to value it at £54k. Assuming a price of 79p per download (because remember kiddies, we can't copy from CDs now can we?) filling a 160GB ipod with music would cost about £31,600. This is just absurd, of course.

It is high time that the disparity between content distribution models and the technological capabilities available to consumers is bridged, whether that is via licensing, micro-transactions, ad-supported models or whatever.

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FAIL

Correction

"Filling an iPod with 31,000 songs costs a £9.99 a month."

There, I fixed it for you.

I have thousands of songs I can listen to on mine that I haven't bought, and it's all legal. Your argument is a few years out of date.

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Pirate

@All out of proportion

Judgments of value aside about anything in the case... I suspect the difference is part of the "punishment", no? Supposedly to discourage others even more (if it does that, that's a different story). At least it's not a more absurd markup, like 10 times the retail value.

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Anonymous Coward

Agreed

I have a colleague (hence the anonymity) who regularly comes out to the pub with us, but spends literally the entire time on his iPhone. A few weeks ago he ended up being quite sociable, and it really was nice to see. I jokingly asked him what had happened to his iPhone and he replied "it's run our of battery." Best thing that ever happened to him I reckon.

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FAIL

One and the same>?

Anyone want to bet those same overweight and lonely bedroom pirates are the same "sticking it to 'da man" Anonymous plebs that are totally outraged that Sony took away their pirate game OS...

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Anonymous Coward

Suffering depression and had low self esteem

>She admitted to downloading 30,000 songs – in order to build up her self-esteem

Complete twaddle. When you are depressed you couldn't care less about your self esteem let alone building it up. Just forcing yourself to eat a bowl of cereal is a mountain of a task that could easily take the best part of an hour and often goes unfinished. When you fell as if you have a huge pressure inside your head that's pushing on the back of your eyes making everything slightly out of focus and moving at the same time you are not in the best condition to be sitting in front of a computer leeching torrents.

She might have low self-esteem but there is no way she can claim it was due to depressoin.

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Anonymous Coward

Complete twaddle

Depression doesn't effect everyone in the same way especially if in conjunction with other mental illnesses.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Complete twaddle

Please find out what real depression is before making such comments, the symptons are well defined and for a start, it is not a mental illness.

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Headmaster

And it's not...

...necessarily about feeling sad or down either.

It's a chemical imbalance that simultaneously distorts the way you view the world, life in general and oneself personally. And yes self-esteem, or rather lack thereof can have a rather powerful effect on someone with depression. It's amplified to the nth degree.

IME those who haven't suffered from clinical depression have, by-and-large, no concept of what it's like.

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It isn't a mental illness per se,

but it DOES come under the mental health spectrum of disorders, and is often a symptom of other, possibly undiagnosed conditions

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As others have said

Depression varies in its impact in both type and severity, from individual to individual and from day to day. I know depressed people who can't STOP eating even when it makes them ill., others for whom it makes no difference to appetite

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Stop

something'ism

being depressed kinda sucks. at least the woman can spell! ppl shouldnt be so quick to judge.

IT by the way, is a very stressful job.

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Thumb Up

well done her

good for her! she will get off lightly anyway. rightly. the times they are a changing.

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10 years in prison for sharing a few songs?

By "get off lightly", I assume you mean that you hope she won't get the full 10 years in prison that the offence she was charged with provides?

Interestingly, she would have been better off had she been charged with real theft; that only has a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison. But, I guess it is right that she faces a worse punishment for sharing a few GB of music files...

Plus there's the little issue of her being charged with an offence aimed at counterfeit goods, rather that the offence specially designed for online file-sharing. And without a full trial, it seems there's no need for anyone to prove that she did share stuff "to such an extent as to affect prejudicially" any individual copyright owner...

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Bad calculating ??

So 30,000 songs are worth £54,000 or around £1.75 per track.

Yet you can buy tracks at a cost of 79p from iTunes, so at most surely they are only worth £24,000 ??

More-over, iTunes must have over-heads of some kind and not all the 79p can possibly be going back to the record companies - so the actual figure *must* be less than £24,000.

And since there has been no promotion, the cut the record companies need to take must be lower also, further diminishing the value.

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It's simply bollocks

that the UK justice system still supports this idea of copyright infringement having these huge values. Clearly she'd never have bought £30000 worth of CDs, and pretty much just as clearly wouldn't have walked into HMV and lifted that amount either. So the record industry hasn't lost £30000 since they would never have had it from her in the first place. They haven't, in fact, really lost anything much, other than a grasp of how their market has changed while their operating practices haven't. I still actually pay for digital media, but feel a complete fool every time I part with my money.

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WTF?

Seriously?

They're still going on about mp3s over there? The MIAA has already given up its fight - it found out that even when they win, they lose - Spend several million, get nothing in return (even if they win the case, good luck collecting) and the negative publicity has just about buried them.

The bottom line the Industry has to learn is that "illegal" music sharing boosts sales on items that normally might not sell. You might like songs 1 3 and 7 on the latest pop sensation's new CD...however I listen to the "popular" tracks on YOUTUBE and think they're absolute rubbish. Someone's sharing them and I download the entire CD and find out that 2, 4-6, 8 and 9 are ABSOLUTE GEMS in my book! So now I'm headed to the store to go buy a CD I'd never have purchased in my life.

Multiply that by say, only 20% of the total number of people filesharing (assuming the worst - 80% deadbeats who'll never by a CD) and you have an INCREASED SALES of 20% of that number...because that other 80%? They wouldn't buy a CD anyhow, even if they couldn't file share.

No loss, 100% win. Viral advertisement at its best.

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't everyone missing the point?

Which is that this is the first _criminal_ conviction for filesharing under section 107(1)(e) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Well, certainly in Scotland, but possibly in the UK as a whole (could be wrong on that though).

Until now, copyright infringement was generally handled through the civil courts, rather than criminal. There is a huge difference though between civil law and criminal law. For one thing, companies (except for the bully boys of this world - you know who you were) didn't actually bother suing people all that often because it was usually more trouble than it was worth. For another, it was very difficult to actually force an ISP in the UK to divulge your name and address based on just a record of an IP address, because a judge ruled that, for the purposes of a civil lawsuit, you cannot automatically associate an IP address with a single person. Now that the police can be assured of an easy conviction under the CDPA (given that in the future they will be the ones deciding whether to prosecute and not the CPS) they can simply issue a warrant and the ISP has to cough up.

The Act says that "A person commits an offence who, without the licence of the copyright owner (...) distributes otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright, an article which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe is, an infringing copy of a copyright work." It all hinges on the phrase "affect prejudicially", which is not defined or interpreted in the wording of the Act, and so it was pretty much up to the first judge handling such a case to decide what it meant.

There was some debate at the time as to whether filesharing by an individual could ever "affect prejudicially" a multi-billion pound industry, because some people expected that the Crown would need to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that a significant number of people would have purchased the copyrighted works in question rather than downloading them. Clearly, the judge (or whatever they have in Scotland) has interpreted this phrase rather differently, and in doing so has set a precedent for similar cases.

So, it's open season for filesharers now. All a company anywhere in the world has to do is to harvest IP addresses from a tracker and then if it finds they are located in the UK, send them over to the police as evidence of criminal activity. Job done. The police will then follow up with their customary tact and subtlety, and if the worst comes to the worst, you get 10 years in prison instead of a bill for damages that you can pay off in easy installments.

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