Company Wants To Patent Automated Pay-Up-Or-We-Sue Pre-Settlement Letters For File Sharing
from the by-a-cigarette-company? dept
Well, well, well. The latest story about a “solution” to the “problem” of piracy has an interesting twist to it. A company named Nexicon, claims that it’s about to launch an automated piracy tracker/payment collector. It says that it’s able to watch various file sharing systems, tracking who’s sharing and downloading unauthorized files — and then sends them an automated letter demanding they pay up, including a “convenient” one-click payment system where you can settle up via your credit card or PayPal. Even better, the company claims that it’s trying to patent this method, which is hardly new or unique (and, you have to wonder if Nexicon is paying Amazon a license for using “one-click” payments — as the company even seems to brag that it copied Amazon’s one-click solution).
There are plenty of questions raised by this. First, if it’s actually put into use as described, it would be the first time we see the industry attempting to target downloaders as opposed to uploaders. All of the various lawsuits and pre-settlement letters have always targeted those who share the unauthorized content. But the article claims this will go after downloaders (though, it’s not entirely clear how they’ll know who actually downloads the file). Then, of course, there’s the whole extortion question of demanding payment to avoid a lawsuit — especially when the actual evidence may be rather flimsy.
As for the patent application (which a casual search did not turn up), it’s hard to see how copying the same strategy that’s been used for years by the recording industry, merged with the already-questionably-patented Amazon 1-click method is somehow patentable.
Oh yeah, there are also some questions about Nexicon itself. Just last week the company announced a deal with YouTube to provide some audio fingerprinting technology — at which point Wired pointed out the rather bizarre history of Nexicon. It started out as an online cigarette seller, that got sued for taking orders from kids, falsely advertising cigarettes as being tax-free and then (not surprisingly) failing to report taxes. Then there were the problems with the SEC over not filing its tax returns on time as well as questionable activities in some sort of reverse stock swap merger. Oh, and did we mention at one point the company was going to be a portal? These are the folks who are going to be popping up automated messages demanding you pay up for downloading a Frank Zappa tune?