LONDON: The U.K. High Court has ordered 10 internet service providers (ISPs) to hand over surfing details of 150 customers, who have been accused of illegally sharing software. The order follows a year-long investigation carried out by software anti-piracy organisation Federation Against Software Theft (Fast).
Among the ISPS to receive the order are BT, NTL, Telewest and Tiscali.
Judge Raynor in giving the order felt there was “an overwhelming case” for ordering such customer details to be released. ISPs can release customer details only after a court order under the Data Protection Act.
The ISPs will be required to provide names, addresses and other personal details of the accused over the next two weeks.
An undercover investigator for Fast had identified the people suspected to have been involved in the illegal activity and as most of them use false names of email IDs on the net, Fast approached the High Court to direct the ISPs to hand over the information they have of these people. It said once it gets the information, it will approach the police and Crown Prosecution Service to initiate action against the 150.
John Lovelock, director general of Fast said his organisation can easily take down links, but this does not tackle the root causes of software piracy, because the links will reappear elsewhere in a matter of hours. “Instead, we plan to take action a lot further, making an example of the perpetrators to stop them from stealing and passing on the intellectual property of our members for good.”
Fast contends that the150 individuals have violated copy right law by uploading software and sharing it online. It did not say which software was being distributed by the alleged file sharers, adding it was a mixture. If the charges are proven, these people can get a maximum punishment of up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Meanwhile, anti-piracy trade group the Business Software Alliance says nearly a quarter of software products used in Britain are unlicensed, counterfeit or pirated copies.
Lovelock said Fast will now target businesses, which indulge in such illegal activities.