The personal details of more than 9,000 O2 broadband subscribers are to be handed over to porn companies Golden Eye International and Ben Dover Productions following a High Court decision.
Ben Dover, aka Lindsay Honey, a British porn performer, director and producer who set up Golden Eye International in 2009, successfully claimed that some O2 users had illegally downloaded his porn films.
9,124 IP addresses were found to be infringing Ben Dover Productions' copyright, and O2 will now have to match those against its customer database and hand over personal details.
O2 defended itself and its customers against the bids to release customer details without a court order. As a result the judge rejected 12 out of 13 applications for court orders from the porn companies.
Importantly, the judge rejected claims that would lead to automatic invoicing of £700, the perceived value of the copyright breach, to those owning the individual IP addressses.
The decision could block future attempts by copyright holders from automatically invoicing against IPs they deem to be breaching copyright.
In a similar case in 2011, where a law firm sent automatic demands for payment to owners of IP addresses it deemed were infringing copyright, Judge Birss QC said: “Even if [an Internet Protocol address] is proof of infringement by somebody, merely identifying that an IP address has been involved with infringement then encounters the Saccharin problem.
"It is not at all clear to me that the person identified must be infringing one way or another. The fact that someone may have infringed does not mean the particular named defendant has done so."