THE UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has published information on what people should do if they receive one of those scary shakedown letters from firms accusing them of breaching piracy laws and owing money.
Take them with a pinch of salt is the very short version of this, but the IPO has a bit more information.
The organisation is alerting people to the sort of missives sent by companies like Goldeneye that have a very fishy smell and a bad reputation. The messages are sometimes described as speculative invoices.
"You may have received a letter if the copyright owner believes someone has used your internet connection to download copyright protected material, such as a film," said the IPO in its Guidance on letters alleging online copyright infringement.
"If the material was downloaded without their permission, for example from a file-sharing website, rights holders may seek compensation for the financial loss they have suffered.
"Companies such as Goldeneye, TCYK LLC and Mircom have taken action to get compensation in recent years. It's important to understand that the copyright owner can only take action against the person who actually committed the infringement. This may not be you."
It might not be you because these are fairly blunt things. The IPO explained that the letters are based on information from ISPs about the internet account holder, which is not the same thing as being an illegal downloader. Sky warned customers about the letters last year.
"Your ISP can only provide them with details of the internet account holder, who may not be the actual infringer," added the IPO.
"Don't ignore the letter, even if you believe that you or anyone with access to your internet connection hasn't downloaded the copyright protected material. You should respond.
"If you didn't know anything about the alleged copyright infringement check the letter is genuine. There are scams operating where letters are sent to try and gain compensation from you when you might not have to pay."
You are advised to get some advice (there is plenty of it online) before responding. As we have seen in the past, some of these companies have caused great distress through their missives. µ
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