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British Law Firm Draws Fire For Porn Copyright Letters

British Law Firm Draws Fire For Porn Copyright Letters
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Dec 3, 2008 6:00 AM PST    Text size: 
LONDON — A British law firm has angered local residents by sending out notices of copyright infringement that accuse the users of downloading hardcore gay porn.

The firm in question is called Davenport Lyons. According to online sources, the firm has distinguished itself – for better or for worse – by becoming the de facto "copyright cop" of the United Kingdom.

Tech blog Ars Technica noted that Davenport Lyons has made headlines over the past year by sending out scores of letters, including notices that tell the owners of WiFi networks that they'll be held responsible for any illegal activity done over their networks. In addition, Davenport Lyons has gone to bat for video game companies pursuing copyright infringement claims.

In this case, the notorious law firm has taken up the standard of a German porn company, Studz, that produced a title called "Army Fuckers." On behalf of Studz, Davenport Lyons has sent out a presettlement letter to an elderly British couple asking that they pay about 500 pounds (roughly $774) or face legal action.

The couple objected to the very notion that they would download any adult content.

"We were offended by the title of the film. We don't do porn — straight or gay — and we can't do downloads," they said. "We have to ask our son even to do an iTunes purchase."

Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng compared Davenport Lyons' tactics to that of the RIAA in dealing with music copyright infringement.

"This presettlement tactic is extremely similar to one that the RIAA continues to employ here in the U.S., as it attempts to ferret out college students that it suspects are guilty of copyright infringement," she said. "Many of the universities that receive the letters, however, are fighting back against the RIAA's bullying tactics by refusing to forward the letters on to the suspected infringers."

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