Anime Distributor Has No Legal Right to Threaten BitTorrent Users

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A company that tracked thousands of users sharing anime via BitTorrent has lost its legal battle to force an ISP to reveal its customer's details. The company would've used the information to demand $3,500 in compensation from each person they tracked - a plan which now lies in ruins.

OdexLast week we reported on the Singapore-based anime distributor Odex Pt. Ltd and their campaign to track, find and threaten thousands of BitTorrent users which they claim infringe their copyrights. The demand – ‘Pay us $3,500 – or else’.

After previously forcing the ISP ‘Singnet’ to give up personal details (names, addresses) of its customers, they moved on to the ISP ‘StarHub’ who put up a fight but was also forced to hand over details. The next move was to force another ISP – Pacific Internet (PacNet) – to give up the details of a thousand of its customers so it could demand money from them also.

PacNet said that although it respects the rights of intellectual property owners, equally it believes in “protecting the privacy of all our subscribers” and refused to hand the information over. Odex went to the courts to force PacNet to comply.

Unfortunately for Odex, the court decided that Odex had ‘no right of civil action’ against those it accuses of infringing its copyrights. Apparently, Odex is merely a sub-licensee of its anime titles and is not even the copyright holder so it cannot take any action at all. It had also threatened criminal action against BitTorrent users – the judge quashed this threat too.

Furthermore, according to the report from ChannelNewsAsia, the judge wasn’t happy with the way Odex went after the BitTorrent users. He criticized the investigative methods used to collect their IP addresses and the manner in which it gathered other so-called ‘evidence’.

Odex is to appeal but in the meantime, they now know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a ‘pay-up or else’ demand. The judge has ordered them to pay more than $7,000 in legal costs.

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