Porn pirates on tenterhooks as warning letters go out

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Thousands of British porn fans will be hovering by the front door this week, hoping to intercept letters accusing them of illegal downloads.

Ben Dover Productions won a court order in March forcing phone company O2 to pass on details of 9,124 IP addresses linked with illegal sharing of its porn movies. The company says it plans to focus on those who illegally downloaded more than one movie.

Users will be given 28 days to reply and negotiate a settlement.

"In our first letter we seek to find out more information regarding evidence of an infringement of our copyright," spokesman Julian Becker told the BBC. "Depending on the response to our letters we will then decide our next action."

The judge ruled that the letter shouldn't contain a threat to slow or terminate internet connections, or a suggested payment - something that's got it into trouble in the past.

In 2009, the company started a campaign of 'speculative invoicing', demanding £700 payments from people it accused of being porn pirates - and presumably relying on the embarassment factor to get people to pay up.

"My own view is that if someone has downloaded a film then any offer of compensation ought to be in the region of £30-50. Pay no more, sign the undertaking and that will be that," says solicitor advocate Michael Coyle of law firm Lawdit.

"The porn mogul will almost certainly accept this, he may threaten to issue a claim, but it means they will have to issue a court fee, pay lawyers fees and this is unlikely to happen. But above all, what we have learnt over the years is that they can only prove the copying if you admit it and or they inspect your hard drive."