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Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), a UK digital rights advocacy group, has asked Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), to clarify his group’s claim that UK courts have accepted an IP address as “conclusive evidence” that identifying a person responsible for copyright infringement.Copyright holders have always tried to maintain that an IP address is an accurate means of identifying who’s responsible for specific instances of illegal file-sharing, however, as we all know, nothing could be further from the truth.More amazingly, is the claim by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) that an IP address has been accepted by UK courts as “conclusive evidence” that a person has committed copyright infringement.This past September, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), a UK digital rights advocacy group, wrote a letter to Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI, asking him to clarify this inaccuracy. “We have not as yet received a reply from the BPI,” he says, but it’s obvious why he hasn’t received one. The BPI knows the claim is false.From the letter:Dear Geoff,I am writing urgently to clarify widely circulating information about the evidence that is collected on behalf of the BPI relating to possible copyright infringement.Your website states that your evidence is “of an extremely high standard. It is the same quality of evidence that was provided in more than one hundred cases to the High Court in litigation against end users and which was accepted by the court in each case. Most of these cases resulted in settlements, and all of those on which judgment was given found in the BPI’s favour.The implication given is that IP evidence is “accepted” courts as evidence of guilt. With regard to the recent Digital Economy Act legislation, you wrote to BIS to say that:“BPI’s evidence has never been challenged in any UK court, including the High Court proceedings during the ‘hubcap’ litigation”We would like you to clarify this by answering the following question:Has any UK court ever treated an IP address as being sufficient by itself to identify a defendant as a copyright infringer in a contested copyright infringement claim decided after a trial of an action? A simple “yes” or “no” would be most helpful. If the answer is yes, then references to the cases would be very helpful.As your organization works alongside ISPs and citizen groups including ORG around the Initial Obligation Code, we think clarifying this point would aid politicians and policy makers alike.Thank you,Jim KillockExecutive Director, Open Rights GroupThe BPI makes the odd argument that courts have accepted IP addresses as evidence of infringement while at the same time admitting that many have opted to settle out of court rather than seek a true judgment on the merits of the evidence at trial. It can’t be both. It’s either “conclusive evidence” that can stand on its own or it’s a piece of evidence that’s submitted alongside others to prove its case.It may be a matter of semantics for some, but it’s a very real distinction, especially when people are receiving letters of infringement en masse from overzealous copyright holder groups.