As I mentioned in a previous post, Peppermint Records GmBH a German record label started a legal action against about 3.000 Italian internet users “accused” of illegally sharing its copyrighted material – namely, a song. The label was able to obtain a (questionable) court order to force a major Italian Telco to disclose the identity of the customers whose ADSL line was – allegedly – used to commit that “devious crime”.
Next step has been a flood of letters from an Italian law firm located in Bolzano (a place with a strong german-speaking minority – or, better, majority) asking, on behalf of Peppermint Record – for a compensation of 330,00 Euros, as sine qua to drop the legal action.
What Peppermint’s lawyer “failed” to write in his letter, is that paying the requested money doesn’t prevent a public prosecutor from starting a criminal investigation (in Italy, for some kind of serious crimes, such as copyright infringements, (1) the public prosecutor have to start a criminal investigation without any chance, for the copyright holder, to ask for a pre-trial dismissal.) The result is that people who choose to pay Peppermint can’t sleep quietly in their bed because police can always knock at their door.
Further more, Peppermint is treating all identified ISP customers as if they were automatically guilty of a criminal action. While Peppermint fails to provide even the slightest circumstantial showing that those persons were the ones actually behind the PC allegedly used to share the copyrighetd file.
To put it short: this Peppermint action has a lot of questionable issues that – should the label start filing legal actions against ISP’s customers – could backfire it severely.
1) Of course it is higly questionable that copyright infrigements might be labelled “serious”, in comparison to manslaughter, first degree homicide, drugs and weapon trafficking, blackmail, money laundering etc.
Declaration of interest: I’m currently providing pro bono legal assistance to a person involved in this case.