Refusing to give up after two previous attempts failed, in September 2011 Golden Eye, a company affiliated with the Ben Dover porn brand, renewed its battle to obtain permission to chase down alleged file-sharers in the UK.
The battle was complex, but essentially the company was told by the High Court that it could only pursue sharers of Ben Dover content, not those who were alleged to have shared content owned by third-party companies.
The case went to the Court of Appeal and despite intervention by the Open Rights Group, has now resulted in the best possible outcome for Golden Eye.
The short term implications concern the 9,000 IP addresses currently in Golden Eye’s possession. Previously the High Court ordered ISP O2 to hand over the identities of individuals associated with 2,845 of them, account holders whose connections were allegedly used to share Ben Dover movies.
But now, thanks to the Court of Appeal ruling, Golden Eye will now be able to obtain the identities behind another 6,155 IP addresses, those connected to the sharing of content owned by other studios.
“It was both illogical and inconsistent for the judge to deny the self-same relief to the other claimants merely because they have chosen to pursue their claims with the assistance of Golden Eye under arrangements which the judge had previously found to be both lawful and not part of a speculative invoicing scheme,” Lord Justice Patten ruled.
The implications of the ruling are serious. Golden Eye can now approach companies that previously haven’t had the will or means to obtain court orders against individuals they believe to have shared their products online, giving them easy access to a ready-made pay-up-or-else scheme in the UK.
In a nutshell, the Court of Appeal just sanctioned the sending of a tidal wave of settlement letters to UK Internet account holders, the proceeds of which will enrich Golden Eye to the tune of 75% of the takings and rightsholders to 25%.
And according to Golden Eye’s Julian Becker, things will kick off quickly. Not only will the letters connected to the first batch of 9,000 IP addresses go out in the New Year, but the company will now work on getting more rightsholders on board.
“I look forward to traveling to adult conferences in Los Angeles and Vegas in early January to offer Golden Eye’s services to other producers,” he told the BBC.