U.K. lawyers send porn download bills to upstanding citizens

A German gay porn company - whose lawyers have an iTunes connection - is sending threatening bills to people who did not download the company's gay porn.

Perhaps you are a fan of the gay porn movie Army F*****s. Perhaps you are not.

But surely everyone can sympathize with the English couple, aged a little more than 60, who received a nasty letter from a law firm demanding that they pay around $750 for "copyright infringement."

According to this law firm, the deeply sensitive Davenport Lyons, this couple downloaded all 115 minutes of the aforementioned seminal German gay porn flick.

There is only one potential drawback to this hammer blow for justice. The couple in question don't even know how to download. As in get something onto their desktop from somewhere else.

They told the Guardian newspaper: "We were offended by the title of the film. We don't do porn - straight or gay - and we can't do downloads. We have to ask our son even to do an iTunes purchase."

"Aha", you of a more cynical bent might be thinking. "It must be the son, then." There again, what if I told you that more than 25,000 of these letters have been sent out?

There were several other images I could have put here. CC Umjanedoan

And, if everyone paid up, this would net the pornographers (with, presumably, a nice little dribble of percentage for their law firm) a sum that cuddles very close to $8 million.

I am unaware of the budget of Army F*****s, but I feel confident in projecting that such a sum would represent a healthy uplift in the pornographers' balance sheet.

Michael Coyle, who is defending some of the folks who are being strong-armed by Davenport Lyons on behalf of the pornography rights holder, told the Guardian: "We've had straight pensioners complain, and a mother who had the shock of having to question her 14-year-old son about gay porn because he was the only apparent user of the internet connection that was registered to her."

It appears that the copyright holders -- who aren't just protecting porn but also games -- are using potentially slippery methods of web identification.

"All they do is find the internet connection, demand the service provider reveal the name and address (not all do) and then send out a letter demanding cash. But the technology is flawed. It is easy to hijack a wireless router especially in a built-up area or a block of flats, so it is never clear who used what," said Mr. Coyle.

You might, at this point, be wondering whether the firm of Davenport Lyons is one that gets some entertainment from chasing trucks full of paramedics.

But no, it appears that the firm enjoys a rather exalted clientele. Including, according to its website, iTunes s.a.r.l. This is the Apple-owned company that runs Apple stores in Europe. Which might make some wonder just what methods the firm might concoct to defend iTunes.

It might also make you wonder whether Apple, in some way, condones this heartily aggressive and, some might consider, less than discriminating style of lawyering.

Naturally, the deeply sensitive chaps at Davenport Lyons are claiming that those who have done not downloaded their clients' artistic endeavors illegally have nothing to be worried about.

But how many elderly or just plain scared people are getting these demands and simply paying up to avoid embarrassment or legal costs they fear they can't afford?

There are already several discussion threads on this subject, including slyck.com .

I would hate to think that there are hordes of miscreants out there who have enjoyed the exalted stolen pleasures of Army F*****s for free.

However, when it comes to seeking justice, one would have thought that, as in the finest of pornography (so I'm told), seduction works rather better than, um, ham-fistedness.

 

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