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How to secure your network to beat copyright fines

What to do if you receive a copyright notice

With the government cracking down on illegal filesharing, PC Advisor explains why securing your wireless network can help you avoid a £500 fine.

DEA: How to respond

ACS:Law’s website explains how the matter should be dealt with, and offers a number of frequently asked questions.

“If in doubt, the recipient of the letter should seek advice from a solicitor or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau [CAB],” Crossley said.

The CAB has confirmed that a number of customers on the receiving end of the warning letters had contacted it for help.

“People who receive similar letters should never sign and send anything back, as this might make them liable. Instead, they should take the letter to their local CAB and get free, confidential advice on dealing with the situation,” the CAB told PC Advisor.

DEA: Industry reproach

Another legal firm, Lawdit, questions ACS:Law’s methods. Lawyer Michael Coyle, who has represented clients accused of illegally downloading content, said: “It can’t be right for legal action and significant costs to be threatened when all the rights holder has in its possession is the name of the person who pays the bill.”

Coyle also believes the Information Commissioner should step in, and argues that the release of names and addresses is disproportionate to the supposed offence and may even breach the Data Protection Act 1998.

Music industry body the BPI isn’t happy either. “We don’t favour ACS:Law’s methods of tackling illegal filesharing, which are at odds with the proportionate and graduated response advocated by BPI and proposed in the Digital Economy Bill,” said spokesman Adam Liversage.

While the organisation is in favour of notifications being issued to alleged offenders, the BPI said such warnings should not contain a request for payment, coupled with the suggestion of subsequent legal action if this is not forthcoming.

“Our view is that legal action is best reserved for the most persistent or serious offenders, rather than widely used as a first response,” said Liversage.

For consumers, locking up their wireless internet connection and perhaps streaming rather than downloading music may be the safest move.

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