TorrentFreak readers will already be familiar with the Swiss anti-piracy company Logistep who partnered German games publisher Zuxxez in tracking down hundreds of file-sharers in the UK alleged to have uploaded the game Dream Pinball. These actions were preceded by massive legal action against thousands in Germany, costing the tax payer many millions. At the end of our article we warned that Italy would likely become a target for the next actions. VedoVa_NeRa, an administrator of Italy’s largest file-sharing forum, p2pforum.it, has picked up on this story;
“In a case that’s bound to strongly affect the way Italian Internet users’ privacy is safeguarded by laws, a notorious recording label from Germany, Peppermint Jam, has sent 3636 recorded mails to as many file-sharers “found” guilty of uploading some copyrighted songs (by Mousse T, founder of the label, and other artists in the Peppermint rooster: Warren G, James Kakande, Colin Rich) on such P2P platforms as eMule, eDonkey and BitTorrent.”
The letters, sent by law firm Mahlknecht & Rottensteiner, demands that alleged file-sharers remove songs on the Peppermint Jam label from their shared folders. As in the previous German and British cases, the recipient of the letter must then agree to pay a ‘fine’ of 300 euros, to be deposited into the lawyers bank account before May 14th 2007. According to the documents, non-payment will result in civil and/or criminal charges being brought.
As with the other cases, the settlement amount demanded far outweighs the cost of the original product. Indeed, VedoVa_NeRa reports that every user in these cases has been accused of sharing just one specific song. That’s a 300 euro ($400) ‘fine’ for ONE song. Additionally, the whole thing is being rushed through – once the demand letter is received, just a single week is allowed to accept the charges and pay the settlement amount – the same strategy employed by law firm Davenport Lyons in pursuing the alleged ‘Pinball Pirates’ in the UK, instilling a sense of panic in the recipient which the lawyers hope will result in rapid settlement.
VedoVa_NeRa also gives some background to the cases;
“The letters follow the last year’s ruling of the Court of Rome which compelled Italian ISPs to disclose users’ sensible data in behalf of the law firm handling the interests of Peppermint Jam. The attorneys have, so, come into possession of the physical names and addresses matching the IPs that an unorthodox (let’s call it so…) first phase of “investigation” – involving the infamous Logistep software for monitoring filesharing networks – had detected as engaged in the uploading of the Peppermint-copyrighted songs. The strange thing is that the Court of Rome has ruled the disclosure of private data relying upon “evidence” found in a way that is not contemplated by current Italian laws.”
Indeed, there are also serious questions to be answered in respect of the methods that were employed by Davenport Lyons to convince the English courts to force ISP’s to give up their customers personal details.
Anyone affected by these legal actions should head over to P2P Forum Italia, where they are giving support to anyone who has received one of these letters.