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Ministry of Sound Gets Legal on Downloaders

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Thousands of British internet users have been issued with letters from solicitors representing the Ministry of Sound} demanding compensation for alleged illegal downloading of its music.

According to the Guardian, the music label instructed its solicitors, Soho firm Gallant Macmillan, to send the letters to the suspected downloaders, threatening them with court action unless they agree to pay the compensation of around £350.

It’s not the first law firm to do this however; ACS: Law has sent out letters on behalf of its clients demanding compensation of up to £1,000.

According to the Guardian, worryingly, many recipients of the letters claim they had no knowledge of the downloaded files. The Guardian, quotes 23 year old Luke Bellamy, who lives at home and received a nine page letter from ACS:Law. Bellamy said, “Getting a letter like this is extremely worrying. I have never downloaded anything from this website and yet I am being chased for this money. My parents have been worried by this, and frankly I've got better things to do with my time than deal with this."

Other law firms are stepping in to battle this new front in the file sharing war. Southampton-based law firm Lawdit, is willing to represent anyone who has received these letters, for free, as long as they have not actually illegally downloaded the files in question. "It seems to me that the only way a claim can be upheld is if you admit it or if they inspect your hard drive,” Michael Coyle, the MD of Lawdit told the Guardian.

Other groups have also stepped in to defend consumer rights, such as Which? and somewhat more surprisingly, the BPI, which said, “Our view is that legal action is best reserved for the most persistent or serious offenders, rather than widely used as a first response."

Paul Gershlick, a partner at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin, a firm specialising in IP issues told TrustedReviews that those in receipt of such letters should consider standing their ground."

“As frightening as it may be to receive these letters, especially for people who have done nothing wrong, they do not simply have to pay up. It is for the person making the claim to be able to prove what has happened…. To be able to feel confident of winning their case, the claimant would either want to be in possession of a written admission of wrongdoing or the hard drive of the computer.”

Gershlick warned though that the recently passed Digital Economy Act could muddy the waters. “The Act {when fully implemented}… would put the onus on people with an internet connection if it can be shown that copyright infringement had occurred through that connection, regardless of who actually did the infringement. This could affect people sharing a home or people whose internet connections have been used by cybercriminals.”

Is this sort of thing making you more cautious about what you do online in general, or has it just put you off listening to anything from the Ministry of Sound? Well, every cloud… as they say.

Via: the Guardian

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