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File sharing court orders

Copyright holders who believe broadband users have unlawfully shared content online have the option of taking their cases to court.

They can present evidence based on IP address – a unique code that can identify a broadband connection. Internet service providers – including Sky – have records of their customers’ IP addresses. So, copyright holders can ask the court for an order obliging them to reveal the names and addresses associated with the IP addresses presented. If the order is granted, the service provider must comply.

The copyright holder is then likely to contact the customer directly and may ask them to pay compensation.

If a court order is granted, we’ll contact our affected customers to let them know about the order, and to warn them about the letter that they might receive from the rights holder.

If you receive a letter directly from a copyright holder, we advise you to read it carefully. It may be that you’re not aware of the claims being made – other people might have had access to your internet connection, or it could be that you simply don’t recall downloading or sharing the content.

If you need some advice, we recommend you go to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), or, and search for ‘filesharing’. Or call them on 03454 040 506. The CAB offers free, impartial and confidential service. You can also seek advice from your solicitor.

To find details of court orders we’ve received, please see our article Details of copyright owners who have obtained court orders in unlawful file sharing cases.