Feeds

Hollywood calls BitTorrent Brits to US Court

Website owners can't afford to comply, apparently

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Exclusive The US movie industry has made good its promise to name Brits Kevin Reid and Ian Hawthorne in its legal action against the users of their bds-palace.co.uk website, which links to BitTorrent-hosted content.

Last month, Reid formally received a summons to appear before the US District Court of New Jersey, where MPAA members Paramount, Warner, Universal and 20th Century Fox are attempting to identify and therefore sue individuals they alleged shared their film and TV content without authorisation.

The site's owners claim they were told they might have to pay $150m in damages if they fail to settle. Settlement would cost them a mere $7m, they say.

The summons follows demands made in March this year by the studios' lawyer, Matthew J Oppenheim a partner with Washington DC law firm Jenner & Block, that Reid and Hawthorne hand over the identities of the alleged copyright infringers. If they failed to do so, Oppenheim threatened, they would too would be named in the studios' lawsuit.

That has now happened, though it's arguably of little help to Hollywood. US law does not reach as far as the UK, and even if the US Court views Reid and Hawthorne's refusal to answer the summons in a harsh light, there's little it can do about it. Should the two Brits visit New Jersey, they might possibly run into trouble, but they may well be free to visit other states of the Union safe from harassment from Motion Picture Ass. of America-member lawyers.

Reid claims Oppenheim "made it quite clear that he felt that if our Prime Minister could be persuaded to back his country in the Gulf War, then there was no doubting that American law would prevail in the UK". Fortunately, our courts tend to be a little less in awe of our transatlantic cousins than our glorious leader does.

Reid and Hawthorne have always maintained that what they are doing is legal under UK law. BitTorrent has legitimate uses, and bds-palace.co.uk links to legal content host by that network. Where they have been notified of links pointing to illegal content, they have removed those links, they claim.

What muddies the waters a little is bds-palace.co.uk's use of a US server, which is how the site came to the attention of the MPAA in the first place.

Still, Hollywood's lawyers must come to the UK, either to persuade an English High Court judge that any ruling on the evidence made in the US should apply here too, or to challenge Reid and Hawthorne under UK copyright law, which in some respects is less liberal than its US equivalent.

David Harris, a lawyer specialising in intellectual property and information technology issues at UKITLaw.com, is representing bds-palace.co.uk's owners. He recently told The Register he welcomes such a move - there are issues here, such as the difference between hosting a link to a BitTorrent file, and hosting the file itself - that need to be thrashed out in the UK court, he said.

Harris is also representing Alexander Hanff, whose has also been threatened by MPAA members over BitTorrent links to allegedly illegal copies of their content on his site, DVDR-core. ®

Related stories

Hollywood brow-beats second BitTorrent Brit
Hollywood threatens to sue UK BitTorrent man for millions

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.