back to article Outraged Virgin slaps IP trolls over dirty movie download data demands

Virgin Media's lawyers have seen off a group of IP trolls who were trying to force the British ISP to hand over the personal details of people downloading allegedly copyrighted smut flicks. Mircom International Content Management & Consulting and Golden Eye International both tried to force Virgin to hand over the details of …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the applicants would not be 'controllers' of that data"

    Really ? Well, let's see what the GDPR has to say about that :

    For example, if Acme Co. sells widgets to consumers and uses Email Automation Co. to email consumers on their behalf and track their engagement activity, then with regard to such email activity data, Acme Co. is the data controller, and Email Automation Co. is the data processor.

    So, in this case Virgin is the supposed data controller, and the IP trolls are supposed to be the data processors. Except that it is not Virgin that is asking them to do anything, they are demanding the data for their processing. The example is not applicable, the IP trolls would indeed be the data controllers.

    The judge got it wrong, that's for sure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the applicants would not be 'controllers' of that data"

      > Really ? Well, let's see what the GDPR has to say about that

      Err… if you want to know what the GDPR says, here's the address: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32016R0679.

      I do not quite understand why you linked to the website or eTorch Inc., an American email solutions provider.

  2. TRT Silver badge

    I suspect that the judge...

    Is a Virgin Media customer. And the deluxe model is the one with the real hair.

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I suspect that the judge...

      Wow, that brings back memories!

      Inspector Bribeasy: I'll show the Chief Inspector how intelligent I am!

      Sergeant Porno: Right, Sir! You get the tape measure and I'll get the two short planks.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: I suspect that the judge...

      And the deluxe model is the one with the real hair.

      And what's the entry-level model like? Repliee Q1Expo?

    3. Guzlr

      Re: I suspect that the judge...

      Oh yes - some of the greatest comedy every made... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VgwxKW0J6I

  3. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "the applicants would not be 'controllers' of that data"

    The applicants are compiling a data set of personal details.

    In what universe are they not the data controllers?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "In what universe are they not the data controllers?"

      Now that they've admitted doing so, has anyone notified the ICO?

  4. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Boffin

    Why the claim got thrown out...

    If I've read the judgement right, the main reason the case was thrown out was the evidence was lost, the expert evidence was outdated and the judge told them to do it right in a new case:

    'a spreadsheet attached as Exhibit 1". But there was no Exhibit 1.'

    'I do not accept that I should simply assume that a 9 year old expert report remains up to date, particularly one given in the field of computer software.'

    'Thus the defects in both the fact and expert evidence are so fundamental that I will dismiss these applications. If it is simple and straightforward as the Applicants say to prepare and serve acceptable evidence then this dismissal will not present them with any great problem.'

    So, remember your backups, and keep up-to-date.

    1. Sirius Lee

      Re: Why the claim got thrown out...

      Well done @Allan George Dyer. After reading a few comments of commentards making legal observations on a possibly dubious write up of the case I was going to do the same thing. Thanks for saving me the effort.

  5. Fred Dibnah Silver badge
    Go

    Shome mishtake shurely?

    From the judgement: " For instance it was said that in some instances a film had only been partly downloaded, and that this meant there was no infringement"

    From now on I'll stop downloading the film when it's 99% complete and I'll be in the clear. Result.

    1. KittenHuffer

      Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

      How did they know that the full film had not been downloaded?

      Would they happen to know how much was uploaded because they were doing the uploading?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

        Not that I download anything I shouldn't but if I did which I don't of course I would not switch off the VPN till the 2% mark.

      2. tony72

        Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

        Well it worked for Prenda Law. But I guess any client in a bittorrent swarm knows how much other members of the swarm have downloaded, because you'd need to know which blocks peers have available. So your presumably modified torrent client would probably download a torrent link, immediately pause the download, and start logging IP addresses of peers and what blocks of the torrent they have downloaded. If my rudimentary understanding of how bittorrent works is vaguely corrent anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

          Except of course, the people behind Prenda Law are now all in jail, as posting films on bittorrent, then blackmailing the people who downloaded said films was classed as criminal.

          I am safe, amongst other things, my torrent program broadcasts my IP as 8.8.8.8

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

            So that's why I keep getting strange letters!

          2. salerio

            Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

            Google's going to be happy getting all the letters

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: my torrent program broadcasts my IP as 8.8.8.8

            Really? You expect other people to expose their ips so you can torrent but you don't want to be so stupid yourself? Even giving back that tiny bit was too much for you?

            Millenial.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

          "Well it worked for Prenda Law. "

          Until it didn't - to the tune of 14 years jailtime for one of the principals and 5 for the other (because he cooperated)

          Perhaps the judge should be made aware of those shenanigans as well as similar ones in Australian courtrooms.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

            The issue of "guardaley" - a rather shadowy "german" outfit which seems to be the real power behind all these 'lawsuites' needs to be addressed too.

            https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140603/18021127448/international-men-mystery-how-discredited-german-anti-piracy-company-may-secretly-be-behind-malibu-medias-copyright-trollery.shtml

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

        Presumably they were the original "sharer" and never let the torrent reach 100%, giving them time to harvest the IP addresses so they could then "threaten with menaces" those who had connected.

      4. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

        It would likely be by seeing who was "seeding" the torrent once they had completed downloading it. Seeding is usually on by default.

        I.e. to mostly avoid this sort of crap and the usual suspects sending cease and desist letters to your ISP just disable seeding.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shome mishtake shurely?

      "...partly downloaded..."

      Not speaking from personal experience of course but I would speculate that once the masturbation has reached its conclusion there would be no need to watch the film to the end. Unless the story is really gripping, surely the conclusion of the film is rather predictable.

  6. Stratman

    From now on I'll stop downloading the film when it's 99% complete and I'll be in the clear. Result.

    Pity you can't download the last bit first, after the housmaid/nurse/fitness instructor has said "Its hot in here isn't it".

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Just tweak some torrenting code to allow you to you prioritise what gets downloaded in what order

      .. Though I seem to recall some torrent clients allowed varying degrees of prioritization in download order, but its a long time since I used a torrent tool*

      *with better broadband speed these days just download my Linux distros via .iso download directly instead of messing about with torrents, so not sure how much the software has improved

      1. crayon

        It's not just speed. Another reason is if the distro maker has moderate infrastructure then it might be better to use bt to ease the strain on that infrastructure.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge
    Meh

    "barrister Robin Hopkins" ought to consider the terms "Prenda Law" and "it could happen to you" before taking his backhanderfee from scumbag scammers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I assume you mean "Jonathan Cohen QC (instructed by Wagner & Co Solicitors)", and not Robin Hopkins who is a third party commentator on the case?

  8. SPiT

    I would have thought the situation outside of the court case is that Golden Eye are collecting personal data and therefore are required to be registered and have a statement of how the intend to use that data and the lawful basis on which they are doing so. I don't know what impact this would have on the case but there would definitely be an interaction between the two as their lawful basis would have to be compatible with the request made of Virgin.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who actually downloads porn??

    Surely you stream it anyway....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who actually downloads porn??

      You forget that there are places in the UK that don't have fibre or anything that fast/reliable.

      Nothing worse than getting halfway through a grumble flick only to be hit with the buffering sign..... and HD.. fuggedaboutit

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who actually downloads porn??

        It comes in spurts.

  10. PapaD

    So, what the judge is saying here is.....

    If they re-gather the data, analyse it and use it to contact someone, that someone cannot file a GDPR complaint to have them remove innacurate data?

    Seems suspect to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, what the judge is saying here is.....

      Would it be indicating potential guilt if one submitted a Subject Access Request to Golden Eye International and Mircom International Content Management & Consulting to find out what data they are holding? Asking for a friend

  11. Ken Mitchell

    Ben Dover?

    Wasn't the company name of "Ben Dover" fairly illustrative of the quality of the firm's legal arguments?

    1. ChrisBedford

      Re: Ben Dover?

      The *Person* Ben Dover is an English (well, British, anyway) porn producer of many years' standing.

      LMGTFY: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Dover

      Heh... quote from above article: "In 2012, Honey was nominated by the Internet Service Providers Association as an Internet Villain for his involvement with his company Golden Eye (International) in speculative invoicing".

  12. FrankAlphaXII

    I think I've seen this movie before

    This is basically what Prenda was doing isn't it? Buying copyrights to smut, seeding it, and then threatening to sue people who allegedly downloaded it.

    I hope the same thing happens with these upstanding parasites too.

  13. VulcanV5

    ACS Law

    Well done Virgin for being a bit cross(ley) about this.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. "Copyright"

    Recall a similar case a while back where some folks bought up all the rights for long-expired electronics magazines then started sending out "Enforcement!" notices to anyone uploading or downloading them.

    Didn't get very far, but scared a lot of folks who in many cases legitimately had old copies they'd purchased in paper form.

    Copyright trolls are a pain.

  15. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    You cannot sue an IP address

    Getting an IP address would usually be sufficient to get a search warrant (or civil equivalent) for someone to do a forensic analysis on a person's PC. But by itself it is usually insufficient to prove (even on balance of probability) that any particular *individual* was responsible for the infringement. And as much as many companies try to argue otherwise, the person who is paying the ISP bill is *not* legally liable for any unlawful use a third party may make of that connection.

    And the burden of proof is on the claimant to show that the individual is responsible, not on the respondent to prove he wasn't. Maybe your neighbour leaches off your WiFi. Or your kids, or kids' friends. Such things are well within the bounds of reasonable possibilities, so the company wanting to sue you needs a lot more evidence than just an IP address.

    So if you get such a letter, just write back saying, "Sorry, but it wasn't me, guv."

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you get a letter

    If you lucky enough to get a letter demanding cash, just reply asking for the name of the person who downloaded the film. As long as you are not stupid enough to give out any new information or admit anything, they will drop the case as they cannot prove who committed the 'crime'.

  17. martinusher Silver badge

    There's a recent US criminal case about this very subject

    It didn't end well for the plaintiffs. Some shady attorneys had come up with a scheme where they plastered well known download sites with copies of porn films that they had obtained the copyright for. They then went to various ISPs, demanded as the copyright owners contact information and then sent out batches of letters demanding payment of a couple of thousand dollars "or else". They eventually got busted for extortion. See...

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/two-lawyers-charged-porn-fueled-copyright-extortion-scheme-n697046

  18. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Mushroom

    And lawyers wonder why lawyers have such a bad reputation.

  19. sitta_europea Bronze badge

    Anyone who actually reads the judgement will see that neither side's lawyers exactly covered themselves in glory.

    In particular it is quite wrong to say that Virgin's lawyers saw anybody off. If anybody did that, it was Counsel for the Applicant.

    The judge presented a (characteristically) clear judgement. It's unarguable.

    This must have been a pretty expensive waste of everybody's time.

    Don't you just love the Internet?

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