Help wanted on O2 porn piracy cases

Illegal file download
Image caption Many firms quiz file-sharing networks to spot alleged pirates

A digital rights group is seeking financial help to stop an adult film-maker contacting Britons suspected of pirating pornographic movies.

The Open Rights Group has applied to intervene in a legal battle between O2 and Golden Eye International.

In 2011, Golden Eye started legal action to make O2 reveal the names of about 9,000 suspected porn pirates.

A successful court challenge meant it only got details on 2,845 people and now it wants to pursue the others.

The UK's Consumer Focus group intervened in the original case saying the adult film-maker had no grounds to pursue 6,155 of them as they were suspected of pirating films for which Golden Eye did not hold the copyright.

The Consumer Focus intervention also changed the wording of letters sent out to suspected pirates to make it clear what penalties people faced. In the letters sent to suspected pirates, Golden Eye said payment of a settlement fee would head off a potential court case.

Golden Eye has now gone to court to get personal details of the 6,155 people released by O2. The Open Rights Group (ORG) has applied to intervene to stop this.

'Massive downturn'

The ORG said it wanted to intervene because Golden Eye had no specific mandate from the 12 other porn studios whose works are believed to have been pirated. Instead, it said, Golden Eye had an "enforcement only" licence which would see it hand over 25% of the cash it got from those it contacted to the studios. Golden Eye would keep the remaining cash.

The ORG has appealed for cash to help pay £5,000 for legal fees and mount the court challenge. If it successfully intervened, said the ORG, O2 would not have to hand over any names and future schemes that try to get cash from suspected pirates may be shelved.

In a statement to the BBC, Golden Eye spokesman Julian Becker said: "The perception of pornographers outside the industry may well be filthy rich, however as anyone with an ability for rational thinking will appreciate any business who's core product has been decimated by piracy is experiencing a massive downturn in turnover and profitability.

"The cases we are fighting have huge implications to the creative industry, both the large multinationals and the smaller independent producers from music and film who do not have the knowledge and financial resources to protect their property from online piracy."

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