UK ISP TalkTalk Vows To Fight P2P Lawsuits


British ISP TalkTalk, who has four million customers after having gobbled up AOL U.K. and Tiscali U.K. in recent years, has vowed to not divulge any customer information to rights holders in pursuit of alleged P2P infringers, according to a report from Torrentfreak. TalkTalk also said that it will fight orders to throttle or disconnect customers that haven’t been convicted of a crime — a stance that could prove to be the first challenge for Britain’s proposed Digital Economy bill.

TalkTalk’s statement comes after a number of other major U.K. ISPs were found to cooperate with a controversial local law firm that has been forcing thousands of alleged P2P infringers into costly settlemens. These types of pre-lawsuit claims have come under increased criticism in the U.K., with politicians calling them “legal blackmail” and consumer advocates reporting a high number of false positives.

At the core of the current controversy is an anti-piracy campaign fought by London-based law office ACS Law on behalf of a number of software, music and adult movie rights holders. ACS Law has been cooperating with anti-piracy companies to log thousands of IP addresses of users downloading these types of files.

The law firm recently asked a U.K. court to order a number of ISPs to hand over the names of customers associated with those IP addresses. Several ISPs including Be, O2, BT, Plusnet, Enternet and Kingston did not oppose the order, and their customers in question can now expect letters demanding the payment of £500 ($800).

One ISP notably absent from the proceeding was TalkTalk. Torrentfreak asked why, and TalkTalk responded with the commitment to fight such court orders. Apparently that was enough reason for ACS Law to not even try to get customer information from the ISP in the first place. That’s good news for TalkTalk customers, because the U.K.-based consumer advocacy organization Which reported this week that it has received more that 150 letters from customers that got legal threats from ACS Law, despite not having engaged in any P2P piracy.

However, TalkTalk’s announcement may have larger implications beyond the current anti-piracy campaigns. U.K. parliamentarians are currently debating a bill that would force ISPs to disconnect alleged infringers from the Internet after three notices from rights holders — a measure commonly known as “three strikes.”

Current drafts call for U.K. telecom regulator Ofcom to supervise this process. Disconnected users will be able to appeal such a decision, but there will not be any possibility for prior legal recourse. TalkTalk’s renewed commitment to fight such orders shows again that getting three strikes implemented in the U.K. will be anything but easy.


Scott Jensen

Good for Talk Talk! What is needed is class action lawsuits against all the law firm going after downloaders. The false positives suing for outrageous amounts of money to not only eliminate any question of studios, record companies, etc. from making a profit off of such harassing tactics but actually HUGELY financially punish them so they stop all such attempts in the future. Right now the movie studios, record companies, artists, etc. are getting a free ride off of government. A number of class action lawsuits would put a complete halt to such activity. And I doubt there is a single jury in the world that will have any sympathy for record companies or movie studios.

The P2P Revolution is still coming. Click on my name to read a 2003 white paper I did on it. I still stand by it.

Comments are closed.