News has broken that two men in the UK have been found liable for file sharing their music. The first ruling of its kind in the UK.
Both men who were ruled against are, as yet, unnamed. The details that are know are – one is a postman, father of two and living in Brighton; the other living in King’s Lynn.
King’s Lynn, as we shall call him, has been instructed to pay £5,000 ‘down-payment’ on costs and damages, Brighton must pay £1,500. Both have been instructed to stop filesharing.
Having been found liable, the two are now exposed to the BPI’s legal fees. Given the City law firms the BPI use, where it’s not unusual to pay £200/hours for their services, it’s going to be an expensive business. BPI have stated that “Total costs are estimated at £13,500 and damages are expected to take the bill even higher.”
Each defense used a different argument. The first, that the BPI had no direct evidence of infringement; the second on the grounds that he was unaware that what he was doing was illegal and did not seek to gain financially.
The second case was dismissed by Judge Justice Lawrence Collins declaring, “Ignorance is not a defence,” which we thought was known by one and all. Given the weakness of this defence, we imagine that this person must have defended themselves. Details of argument against the first were no disclosed.
The names of the people who were sued haven’t been released by the BPI. When we asked for their names, we were told they weren’t to be made available as, “we don’t want to put them through anymore stress.” A bit strange when the stress they’re under, which we imagine to be pretty considerable, would have been caused by the BPI’s actions.
This route, taking legal action against members of the public, has been well trod in the US. Reaction there has been varied from Hurrah! from the majority of the US music business – to Boo! from a large number of citizens, who in reaction have threatened not to buy music from the major music companies.
The BPI is obviously taking this opportunity to pressure the 51 file-sharers that they have in their sights, urging them settle. We suspect that many will take the hint.