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ISP Reports Movie Company to Data Protection Agency Over ‘Piracy’ Data


Venice PI, a movie company that previously targeted Dragon Box, Showbox, and Popcorn Time through the US courts, has been reported to Spain’s data protection agency. ISP Euskaltel says that the company, which is attempting to extract settlements from alleged file-sharers, is misusing private data.

While some movie companies are satisfied with the income generated by their content, others are increasingly looking for additional revenue streams via legal action.

One of those companies is Venice PI, the outfit behind the Bruce Willis movie Once Upon a Time in Venice. It has filed several lawsuits in the United States with the aim of extracting cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent users, cases that haven’t always gone in the company’s favor.

In common with other companies involved in so-called “copyright trolling” cases, Venice PI has already found itself in awkward positions in court. That hasn’t prevented it from filing further lawsuits, however.

Indeed, Venice PI and partners have gone after ‘pirate’ services too, including Dragon Box, Showbox, and Popcorn Time. Given the status of these cases, it seems that settlements rather than full trials are still on the agenda.

Venice PI also appears to be testing similar markets overseas, with the company demanding that Spanish ISP Euskaltel hand over the identities of individuals who allegedly downloaded and shared the previously-mentioned Bruce Willis movie.

Euskaltel says that it has repeatedly refused to hand over any data but was eventually ordered by Commercial Court No. 2 of Bilbao to hand over the personal details of subscribers behind IP addresses said to have pirated the movie.

“Despite the repeated refusal of the ISP to deliver any data to the Court, the Commercial Court number 2 of Bilbao issued a ruling dismissing Euskaltel’s opposition allegations, forcing the ISP to provide the Court with the required information,” a statement from Euskaltel reads.

“The Court forced Euskaltel to provide the data of the affected clients, without the possibility of appeal, delivering them to the film producer.”

Of course, it was no surprise when, in recent weeks, Euskaltel customers began receiving correspondence from lawyers representing Venice PI.

Somewhat unusually for such cases, the ISP reports that customers were targeted via their email addresses (rather than regular mail) with demands to pay a 150 euro settlement within five days of the notice “to avoid the initiation of legal proceedings.”

Interestingly – and despite being ordered to hand over the information by the Court – Euskaltel believes the use of the personal data in this manner may constitute a breach of Spain’s Data Protection regulations.

“The Telecommunications operator Euskaltel has filed a complaint with the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) against the film producer Venice PI, LLC, for possible violation of data protection regulations as a result of the use of what the producer did with the Euskaltel customer data,” the company says.

“At no time did the Euskaltel group identify the owners of such IP addresses as authors of any infringement or make any assessment of the legality or illegality of the actions taken by users.”

The ISP says that when it provided information to Venice PI in compliance with an order for preliminary proceedings, the movie company was “not free to decide what to do the data, a circumstance that seems to have been breached and that may constitute an infringement of data protection regulations.”

The complaint was filed with the AEPD (Agencia Española de Protección de Datos) on May 20, 2019. The data protection agency has not yet commented on the complaint.

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