The United Kingdom’s government has been heavily scrutinized for their part in laws relating to the Internet. Most recently, the region’s high court revealed a plan that would see them forcing ISPs to spy on their customer whilst they’re on the Internet. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that the country’s government is yet again forcing an ISP to expose a specific portion of their customers who downloaded a company’s pornography files unlawfully.

The High Court has ordered UK-based ISP O2 to unveil personal details pertaining to more than 9,000 broadband subscribers over to Golden Eye International, in addition to pornography company Ben Dover Productions. Ben Dover is used as an alias for Lindsay Honey who is a British performer, in addition to a director and producer of pornography, who initially set up Golden Eye International during 2009.

Dover said that the customers pertaining to O2 who is accused of unlawful file-sharing should be charged £700 ($1000) to each of the 9,124 customers. In the judge’s response to this, he labelled it “unsupportable”. Furthermore, the High Court’s judge stated the letter Golden Eye International were planning to send to these users which claimed for payment was essentially “capable of causing unnecessary distress because it could be read as an implicit threat of publicity once proceedings have been commenced”. Said letter was due to state that action will be taken via the court which applies to the users who refused to pay the damages.

The ISP in question O2, meanwhile, battled with the court and company in order to protect their customer’s privacy. Golden Eye international made its claims in court against O2 with an accumulative of 13 pornography firms. The court disallowed 12 of these applications; however, they favoured Ben Dover Productions in one regard stating “the claimants’ interests in enforcing their copyrights outweigh the intended defendants’ interest in protecting their privacy and data protection rights”.

Thus, O2 are now due to carry out the obligatory action of matching 9,124 IP addresses which have been detected to infringe Ben Dover Productions’ copyright. The IP addresses will be matched via the ISP’s customer database to which all personal details have to be delivered to the court.

A spokesman for O2 said on the matter:

Clearly we respect the court order and will therefore be co-operating fully.

Judge Justice Arnold disallowed the 12 other applications requested by Golden Eye which would have retrieved O2 customers’ personal details due to the fact that the firm would chase the suspected illicit downloaders on its own terms such as taking 75 % of any damages paid.

Consumer Focus’s chief executive, Mike O’Connor – who were given permission to intercede within the case on behalf of O2 – stated:

This case sets an important precedent for the rights of consumers, particularly those who are innocent, and the responsibilities of companies seeking redress on behalf of copyright owners. It is very welcome that the court has recognised the bill-payer should not be automatically assumed to be guilty when a copyright owner believes they have detected copyright infringement on that internet connection.

Both Ben Dover Productions and Golden Eye International will mutually follow up with their copyright infringement claims which were not approved by the court.