Ministry’s lawyers to request file-sharer info as ACS:Law data leak shambles rumbles on

By | Published on Friday 1 October 2010

In what is best described as unfortunate timing, the Ministry Of Sound’s legal men Gallant MacMillan will reportedly go to court next week to ask a judge to force PlusNet to hand over the names and addresses of a bunch of web users who they reckon have been illegally sharing the dance firm’s music online.

Ministry announced earlier this year that it was breaking rank with most other UK record labels, and the industry’s trade body BPI, by taking legal action directly against individual music fans who have infringed their copyrights online. As a general rule the British record industry has not pursued such action since 2006, instead lobbying for the three-strikes initiative.

Although sue-the-fans litigation has always be controversial, the court hearings where content owners request ISPs be forced to reveal the identities of people using IP addresses where file-sharing has allegedly been spotted have generally gone by unnoticed. But Gallant MacMillan will be asking for the identities of PlusNet customers just a week after their rivals ACS:Law spilled several barrels of private information about the file-sharers they have targeted onto the internet.

Now, of course, just because ACS:Law operated a shambles of a data protection system, that’s no reason to suggest Gallant MacMillan would ever be so stupid as to publish the private data of thousands of web users. But, with PlusNet customers among some of those affected by the ACS shambles, the pressure will be on for the net firm to refuse to hand over any customer data. In the eyes of the law it won’t really have any choice, but it makes this particular stage one file-sharing court hearing more interesting than most.

Doing its best to ensure the pressure is, indeed, piled on PlusNet to not comply with Gallant MacMillan’s demands, New York-based tech investment website Wired VC calls on UK web users to attend the hearing at the London High Court. It also provides a bunch of tips for those accused of file-sharing by Ministry’s lawyers to circumvent the system – a system which is, in the main, based on the principle that most of those targeted will settle out of court for a few hundred quid without having the case against them properly presented before a judge. You can read their rant here.

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