Automated Copyright Settlement Letters Apparently A Lucrative Business
from the pay-up-or-we'll-sue dept
We’ve covered a few different stories of companies that have been involved in what certainly has a lot of similarities to extortion: sending automated letters insisting that you’re violating the law, and demanding payment to prevent a lawsuit. DirecTV was one of the first companies to put a big push behind such a revenue stream, but it was eventually shot down by the courts. The RIAA, of course, has used such a program for a while. More recently, we’ve seen some companies in Europe experiment with similar programs. The latest is Nexicon, a former cigarette retailer that’s now rebuilt itself as an automated legal threat sender, scanning BitTorrent for what it believes is infringing content, and dashing off automated legal notices, demanding payment within 10 days, and suggesting that simply paying up is a lot cheaper than even contacting a lawyer. At what point do politicians realize just how badly the system is being abused? Or do they just let this sort of activity continue?
In the meantime, it looks like ACS:Law, which is one of the organizations that’s been involved in a similar settle-or-we’ll-sue letter sending campaign has been outed as sending bogus letters to people who had nothing to do with the content they’re alleged to have infringed upon. The most amazing thing? The companies involved seem to admit it. In a letter used by multiple firms, they note that “We do not claim that your computer was used to commit the infringing act (although we do not exclude this possibility), nor do we claim that you downloaded our client’s work. Our claim is that your Internet connection was used to make our client’s work available via one or more P2P networks. The file may not, therefore, be on your computer.” But they still want you to pay up, of course. It’s guilty until proven innocent, because that’s a lot more lucrative.