Digiprotect Admits It Shares Files Just To Find People To Demand Settlement Money From

from the well,-look-at-that dept

Last week we wrote about claims that copyright holders were purposely putting their own content online to see who downloaded it, and then suing them. In that post, we mentioned a post from last year, about one of the companies that’s been hired to track down file sharers, DigiProtect, and how its contract seems to suggest this is exactly what the company does. After that came out, there was some talk about how that contract clause really was only used to make sure the company had the right to investigate infringement. However, the company now appears to be quite forward in admitting that it puts files online specifically to catch downloaders:

“We get the legal rights from the companies to distribute these movies to stores, and with these rights we can sue illegal downloaders. Then we take legal action in every country possible, concentrating on the places where such action will be profitable.”

Of course, this seems questionable on a variety of levels. First, if it’s getting the distribution rights to the content, then the distribution is authorized, and not infringing. Second, DigiProtect makes it quite clear that its focus is on figuring out the most profitable way to do this — not the best way to cut down on infringement. The company apparently doesn’t pay anyone on a fixed salary, but everyone shares in a cut of whatever is “collected.” In other words, the program is not at all about stopping unauthorized file sharing, but figuring out the best way to profit from sending threat letters to people. The company even admits that the numbers it demands from people, and the numbers used in lawsuits have nothing to do with actual damages, but are entirely about what they think is mostly likely to get them paid. That sounds an awful lot like the what most people call extortion.

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Companies: digiprotect

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Comments on “Digiprotect Admits It Shares Files Just To Find People To Demand Settlement Money From”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Grrrrrrr....

>>I’m sure there’s a joke or at least
>>a smart ass comment to make here somewhere,
>>but I’m too busy glaring at my computer screen
>>in pure anger to find it…

Here you go: a Horse, a Jew, and a Nazi walk into the Bilderberg hotel where the bartender, wearing an oversized black helmet asks “What can I get you gents to buy today?”

I think they then say something like “yada yada yada”, but I forgot what it was. The punchline ends with the bartender going home to cry to mom. It’s freaking hilarious.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Grrrrrrr....

You’re inability to properly construct an offensive joke is sad. Let me see if I can help you out:

Here you go: a Horse, a Jew, and a Nazi walk into the Bilderberg hotel where the bartender, wearing an oversized black helmet asks “What can I get you gents to buy today?”

The Nazi says, “Actually, you can help me figure out whether to kill the Jew or the Horse first, I can’t decide which off them has the bigger nose.”

See, THAT’S how you do ignorant and offensive. If you want to run your next attempt by me via email next time, let me know.


Yohann says:


I’m seeing this as entrapment. If you leave something out for people to take and then demand payment when they take it, that’s entrapment. While some might make the argument of “Police do that all the time with bait cars”, well that’s fine. Even Game and Fish have fake deers and elks to catch poachers. But those are city and state-run enforcement agencies, and in my state, there is a law that specifically states that no privately owned company can act as a law-enforcement entity.

Now if they state that they are an organization releasing the file for the purposes of catching file sharers and give people the opportunity to not do it, then I can certainly understand it. But leaving out stacks of hundred dollar bills on an open highway, then acting all shocked and amazed when people get out of their cars to collect, and you slap them with stealing… that’s entrapment.

TheStupidOne says:

Re: Entrapement

It all boils down to this … downloading a file from an authorized source is not illegal. You can’t call it infringement because it is authorized.

I think anyone and everyone who settled with these people should sue for lots and lots and lots of money, and I wish I was a class action lawyer right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Entrapement

Sorry, FAIL!

How do you know on a P2P site that it is “authorized”? You don’t. Further, even if it is available, it isn’t yours to have anyway. Just because someone leaves the door to their car unlocked doesn’t give you any rights to steal the contents.

Sorry, but your entire argument is fail.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Entrapement

The car analogy isn’t a very good one. It’s like getting on a public bus and then finding out after you climbed aboard that it was illegal. If you break into a locked bus, it’s illegal. But if the bus is open and says “In Service” (equivalent to someone making the software available for anyone), and you climb in only to find someone hidden inside arresting anyone who comes aboard, that’s entrapment.

Using your car analogy, it’s like hanging a sign on it that says “This is free for anyone who wants it.” and then getting arrested for taking it. Making something available for people to download, and then fining them for them downloading it, is entrapment.

Now, if the file specifically states a warning first saying “Do not download this file we are making available because it’s illegal!” then an innocent person has a chance.

Cyanid Pontifex (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Entrapement

The analogy to robbing an open car is inaccurate. An unlocked car is passive, and doesn’t interact with its environment. Digiprotect is actively distributing their copyrighted material. Therefore, this would be like a police officer disguised as a bartender giving you a free beer. After you drink it, he arrests you.

And as for the comment about the downloader’s knowledge of how a P2P item is “authorized,” it doesn’t matter. To my knowledge, “attempted infringement” is not a crime. And no matter what the intent, if Digiprotect has a license to distribute, that there is no infringement going on.

Richard says:

Re: Re: Re: Entrapement

“How do you know on a P2P site that it is “authorized”?”

You don’t need to “know” but you do need to have a reasonable belief.

Ironically, by letting us know that they are authorised to distribute, Digiprotect are making that belief more reasonable.

Of course if the file DID come from Digiprotect and therefore WAS authorised then even if you believed that it was actually illegal you still wouldn’t be guilty. (That’s like shoplifting from a pile of free samples – not noticing the sign that said free samples.)

TheStupidOne says:

Re: Re: Re: Entrapement

I’m sorry but that isn’t even close to right. Stealing an unlocked car is still stealing. Taking something that is offered to you for free is not stealing.

Digiprotect is an authorized distributor of a movie
Digiprotect makes that movie available for download on P2P
I can download that content legally

I believe the logic there is very sound. I want to take it a bit further though …

Because of the nature of P2P file sharing, there is an assumption that an authorized downloader is authorized to distribute. This reduces the costs of the original distributor, increases the speed at which the material can be distributed, and increases the number of people that can download it. These are all positives for a free distribution or marketing campaign and I propose that by making an authorized copy available on P2P, anyone who downloads it is then authorized to make it available.

One step further (and much less likely to be agreed with by anyone in the legal system) I’d argue that by making an authorized copy available, all previously unauthorized downloads are now authorized to be distributed. This would mean that someone searching for the “official” copy on P2P can legally download any copy that they find.

The final step of this argument will probably be laughed at but I’ll write it anyway … If all of the previous arguments are accepted then all liability for unauthorized content on P2P would be assigned to the original uploader of the content. Thus someone who downloads from a P2P site can assume that if a file is available then it is authorized (or at least they aren’t liable if it isn’t)

I cannot see any possible defense for the first person to upload unauthorized content though. Sorry, if you do that and are caught you are just out of luck.

Frosty840 says:

Well, while I share the anger of the other commenters, I don’t see that anything legally wrong is going on.
The argument that people seem to be making, that these people have been given distribution rights, and therefore everyone else distributing the files also has distribution rights seems false to me.

You can’t say that because stores have distribution rights, that everyone who buys copyrighted data (I had put “media”, but media means the shiny plastic discs, and nobody’s ever tried to send a shiny plastic disc through the internet, as far as I know…) from an authorised reseller has that same right of redistribution. One can disprove that claim (on a legal level) fairly trvially.

Of course, you might try the argument that Digiprotect, by performing their legal distribution via a torrent, were knowingly causing further downloaders to infringe and that at any time that they could see more than one connected peer, they were facilitating, even directly causing illegal filesharing between the peer swarm.

So… now they’re accessories to a “crime”.

There are some plausible defenses Digiprotect could use, but I reckon I’ve got counters for most of ’em… Anyone want to try to poke some holes?

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The argument that people seem to be making, that these people have been given distribution rights, and therefore everyone else distributing the files also has distribution rights seems false to me.”

No. That’s neither the argument, nor what’s happening. The argument is that if this company has distribution rights to these files, DISTRIBUTES THEM, and people download the files, what legal ground do they have to charge for infringement???

Admittedly I didn’t read the rest of your post, because your first point was in such poor understanding of the topic at hand that I didn’t want the headache.

Oh yeah, and just to drive your idiocy home, I’m not a network tech, just a guy who visits this site in his free time at work.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“But if they download and then upload to others, as is what happens when you use P2P, they might be liable.”

But since DigiProject would have been the ones putting the torrents up, shouldn’t they be presumed to have authorized just such behavior? That’s how torrents work, after all.

I’m still unclear on the ‘stores’ rights equalling DP’s internet distribution.

mike allen says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

the point as Mike said is that Digiprotect admit they want the DOWNLOADERS if the DOWNLOADERS upload as well is unknown to them. only DOWNLOADERS ARE LOGGED ON THEIR MACHINES. Therefore if they own distribution rights and chose to distribute via P2P as they have, they can have no case. and therefore it can also be argued that any one uploading also have rights to distribute as it is well known how P2P works.

Pete (profile) says:

Re: Frosty840

“The argument that people seem to be making, that these people have been given distribution rights, and therefore everyone else distributing the files also has distribution rights seems false to me.”

Wrong. That is NOT The argument being made. A little more reading comprehension on your part is needed.

The argument being made is that those people who are being threatened and sued by DigiProtect for downloading files FROM THEM have not infringed. Nowhere did I see a claim that this covers other file sharers as well.

To make a little more clear to you. The claim of wilful infringement can only be made when the distribution of copyrighted material is unauthorised. In the case of this company the availability and distribution of media was authorized by the copyright holder, and therefore NOT infringement.

While you are correct on stating that these downloaders do not have the right to redistribute any data that had been downloaded, the fact still remains that the initial download from Digiprotect was authorized and legal.

That however gets a little screwy with the distribution method of choice which, by its very nature of operation, requires data to be redistributed among peers. In this case I would think the party responsible for uploading the .torrent file would be considered the original distributor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Frosty840

With the nature of the distribution medium being that the file is spread across, and downloaded from, many clients, then the original uploader, who, in this case, is an authorized distributor, is also granting authorization to those extended sites. Otherwise they would not be able to fully distribute the file. Are they going to charge someone with partial infringement? I would think to truly be guilty of infringement one would need to have a complete copy.

bigpicture says:

Re: Entrapment/Extorsion?

I think that you are not splitting the legal hairs fine enough here, there is a difference between “downloading” and “making available”.

The downloading from a content authorized site, free or not is possibly not illegal, but setting up a link to that site or redistributing the download possibly is illegal.

Bit Torrent presents its own legal issues because like you indicate the whole file is not downloaded from any one source, so then is it a small enough clip to be fair use. That is supposing that you never make the whole file available at any time.

Ben Zayb says:

Re: Re:

“The argument that people seem to be making, that these people have been given distribution rights, and therefore everyone else distributing the files also has distribution rights seems false to me.”

“You can’t say that because stores have distribution rights…”

DJ says, “This is like charging people with theft if they help themselves to a “free sample” at the grocery store.”

You cannot compare the distribution rights that DigiProtect has with the kind of distribution rights that a retail outlet, like a grocery or a department, has. The contexts are different.

anymouse (profile) says:

But I didn't 'make it available' I just downloaded 1000 copies, then gave them away....

So they are trying to claim that they put out a ‘free movie’ and it’s okay for person A to get a copy, and for person B to come and get a copy, but it’s not ok for person A to take two copies and give one to person B?

To use the store ‘free sample’ example, there is a table full of free samples and an IMPLIED ‘Please take only one’, so I come and get a sample, no problem, my friend comes and gets a sample, also no problem, then my neighbor comes over and picks up 2 samples so he can give one to his friend…. BAM he’s arrested for Theft (or accused of infringement in the article). If the “please take one only” is implied and not stated anywhere, how can they expect it to be legally enforced? Oh that’s right it’s extortion so it doesn’t need to be legal, they just have to get away with it…

How can they be sure that I didn’t download 2 copies and give one to my friend which should be perfectly legal (rather than making him a copy of my copy…. which is apparently infringement according to them) when verbal semantics make this much difference in the situation, things are definitely FUBAR.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: But I didn't 'make it available' I just downloaded 1000 copies, then gave them away....

At first you made me ponder, but then I realized the error in your scenario. The “implied take only one” rule is a COURTESY to keep the samples from disappearing before everyone can get one. If you DO take more than one, the only thing they can legally do is call you nasty names.

If something is free, it’s free. Period. Yes, there are loopholes and back doors, and tons of different ways that people can get screwed, but 0 = 0, and only 0.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Perhaps I’m missing something, but I don’t see where they say that they distribute the files to file sharing networks. There is a lot of ambiguity in the word “stores”… What does that mean? It seems to me like they are saying they obtain legal distribution rights so they can take direct action against illegal distribution — not that they themselves actually put the files out there for free then sue people who download them.

But like I said, maybe I’m missing something. They still seem extremely shifty, and their method of determining damages is despicable.

John (profile) says:

It's not Entrapment

First, let’s get off entrapment… only Police Officers can be guilty of entrapment.

2nd… even if they’re offering something for free to anyone who downloads it, they are not giving up their distribution rights. That said, if it was free from the distributor at the time of said infringement, I can’t see a jury having much option other than to award a penalty of $1,000,000.00 as a way to deter future infringement.

ojkelly (profile) says:

Re: It's not Entrapment

“even if they’re offering something for free to anyone who downloads it, they are not giving up their distribution rights”

Well, yes they are. You may not like it, but I’m afraid the internet kind of lives of this. Offering their content for free on p2p networks (making available) is comparative to giving up their distribution rights. They are making the content freely available.

At the very least it can no longer be copyright infringement if the copying is authorised and therefore not infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, what you are smelling is the lube, the lube that the users put there themselves before getting screwed in the pooper by their own stupidity.

Stop the thieving, and suddenly there is no risk. The only people are risk are the people downloading from P2P. Stop using P2P, and suddenly there is no risk.

NOBODY IS FORCING YOU TO DOWNLOAD. That’s your own problem.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Stop the thieving, and suddenly there is no risk. The only people are risk are the people downloading from P2P. Stop using P2P, and suddenly there is no risk.

Ok, but many many artists are purposely putting their content on file sharing networks these days (and, I should add, doing quite well because of it). How’s a user to distinguish? That’s not “thieving” (I’ll note you purposely chose the wrong word, but that’s no surprise when you have no real argument). And here’s a situation where the fundamentals are exactly the same. The copyright holder has granted distribution rights to a third party, and they distribute it online. That’s now perfectly legal.

So it’s not infringement. It’s not theft. Why are people getting sued for it?

Richard says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Stop the thieving, and suddenly there is no risk. The only people are risk are the people downloading from P2P. Stop using P2P, and suddenly there is no risk.”

Sadly not true. Many innocent people have been accused by these “enforcers”.

Also I do not believe that there is anyone in the world who has made significant use of modern computer based media technology who has not at some point in their lives done something that could have been prosecuted as copyright infringement.

Xanius says:

In their own words!

“The studios give us the rights to distribute their material for free to P2P networks, which really shows a lot of trust in our company.”

This is from the interview they gave a while back.
That sentence right there means they can’t sue anyone. They are legally distributing the content.


ojkelly (profile) says:

I can’t believe a company that is using the law to extort consumers has a fundamental misunderstanding of the law they are abusing.

By getting the rights to distribute, and then distributing these files on p2p networks, they are thus legal to download.

So then the settlement claims are illegitimate, and nothing short of gross abuse of the law. Which should be a crime in itself.

But of course the scary legalese, double talk and rhetoric that no doubt fills these settlement claims is enough to scare people into paying. It almost sounds like paying off the mafia…

mori30 says:


you guys need to think this,,, we all know how P2P works, its common knowlege, they are giving u the song for free sure, but by the common knowlege of how p2p works they know u will in turn uploaded to someone else,, the the burden of proof falls on you to prove that u dint upload it to no one, and at the same time digi know that u wont be able to prove it, and btw taking a screnn shot of ur setting wile it says do not upload, doesnt count

so it comes down to putin the burden to prove on u,. let me see if i can come out with an anology

its like a gun distributer giving u a gun, everyone know how a gun works basically, and then u discharging that gun, when they come to get u, u telling the cops well i dint knowit was gonna do that (fire) ignorance its not excused in the eye of the law.

i dont think its a good analogy but its the closest i could get

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: well......

I hope that English is not your native language.

Also, the burden of proof falls on them, not you. The way MediaSentry (or whatever they’re called these days) does it is finding a file that their client has the sole rights to distribute being illegally distributed. Then single out one IP address and download the entire file from that IP address. They only *know* that you shared it once, with them.

Now, these Digiprotect people are hunting down downloaders (which I thought was legal, since I thought it didn’t infringe on a person’s right to distribute if you received, only when you distributed– IANAL) So, they secure the rights to distribute, then they distribute in a system that, by default, distributes automatically and during the downloading process, as well as after completion. This seems to be a de-facto authorization to re-distribute. It would be as if I handed you an apple and then told you it’s illegal if you let the apple come into contact with air. Moreso, they don’t know if you’ve uploaded it at all, unless they re-download it from you. I’d say they have zero case, myself.

Again, IANAL, so feel free to set me straight.

The way I see it, as more and more artists utilize P2P networks to distribute freely, it will get harder and harder to prove willful infringement. How is the user supposed to know which torrents are authorized or not? Radiohead is a fairly well-known name, and many people may very well assume that it would be illegal to download their latest album on a torrent website, but it is, in fact, perfectly legal. Turn it around then, and it still applies. If I say that Radiohead put up their music for free, and I just assumed that Metalica did as well since they were on the same torrent site, wouldn’t that negate the “willful” part of it, drastically lowering the amount that can be awarded?

The clock is ticking on the Label’s current method of retaliation against the fans. Thankfully so.

Once again, IANAL. I don’t even play one on TV.

James says:

” the the burden of proof falls on you to prove that u dint upload it to no one, and at the same time digi know that u wont be able to prove it, and btw taking a screnn shot of ur setting wile it says do not upload, doesnt count”

Ignoring, for the moment, your grasp of the English language (or lack thereof) it appalls me you do not understand one of the most basic tenants of Western law. The burden of proof in fact, falls upon the accuser.

Your general ignorance leads me to believe you are either thirteen years old, mildly retarded, a troll, intentionally attempting to make DigiProtect defenders look retarded, or some combination of the former.

In short–please go read a fucking book.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think that the copyright holders that digiprotect purchases rights from need to file a class action suit against them for 100% of their income (not just their profit) through such actions. Were I a copyright holder that digiprotect had acquired distribution rights for and done this with my copyrighted content, my stance would be that they are deliberately misrepresenting the copyrighted status of my work as something that is freely distributable. The fact that anybody else who seeds torrents of copyrighted works (without permission from the copyright holder) is doing exactly the same thing is quite irrellevant to that point and does not excuse the behavior.

andrew says:

Digitech--- Techdirts Dirty Lie

Acutally, your article is quite misleading and on purpose I assume only to mislead your readers in favor of your agenda of supporting stolen material. Digitech acquires distribution rights to said material , no different than iTunes, theorchard, beatport, juno or any other company of that nature. But , they go one step further, they track their files after purchase to see where they go, in otherwards who starts sharing them on torrents (illegaly), world wide to thousands of non-paying consumers. This cost Digi. retail, labels, Artist, thousands of dollars in revenue loss for every release and has bankrupted 1000’s of indy labels which by the way make up 80 percent of the music buisness. Here is the typical scenario, lets say, indy artist Tipper, (who barely survives) places his new LP up on iTunes for sale. What happens is that some kid in Canada buys it , downloads it and then distributes himself illegally to 10,000 other people around the world for free.
Wow thats great , but, the artist makes nothing to live on or buy new gear, the label makes nothing (and labels are important) and eveyone goes bust. So all this company is doing is rightfully busting the people who are plain out stealing music. Its no different than a stranger taking your wallet directly out of your pocket and not even saying thank you. Artist own their music, thats how they make their living. Id like to see the people that bitch and squeal about torrent closure be so ready to give up their personal positions that they have worked hard for just like artist who make the music. If this continues you will not have quality music in the future. All other revenue producing ideas dont work none of them. Really who wants to sell their music to commercials for exxon? How about the milllions pirate bay made supporting the thievery of music from indy artist. What happened to those aritst carreers. Since the year 2000, over 3000 Indy retail stores have gone out of buisness in the USA. The meltdown of the musical industry due to illegal file sharing is huge and is alot more than about Major Labels, or just another cool ipod.
The other side of the coin is the greedy ISP’s, you know their coporations, and they’re scared of having anything infringing on their Internet sales. They dont care about you, your privacy or about music. Its about selling as much uninterrupted band width as possible to as many as possible and making it as good as possible. Dont fool your selves.
ISP’s are like toll booth operators watching truck full after truck full of stolen material go through their gate, and they dont give a damn as long as they collect their fees. How would you like it if someone backed a truck up to you house while you were on vacation and loaded up with everything as your neighbors stood there and watched, just like ISP’s do. No difference. If you think music should be free, which by the way is property, owned by someone, then, you must be willing to give away your property as well to the first random customer that comes by, just like on on Torrent.

Tired of onesided BS says:

Re: Digitech--- Techdirts Dirty Lie

You really have no clue about the way any business is run do you? Blaming people who download files for the loss of indy retail retail stores is like blaming a raindrop for causing a hurricane. Retail stores go out of business due to lack of customers, yes. they went out of business because they couldn’t keep up with demands, expectations, and access to their products. not to mention the current economy as a whole(which by the way if you have to work for a living affects the way you spend money more than you realize). Who has the money to go out and see a movie in theaters when they need gas in their car or food on their table? Especially in recent years. Who wants to take the risk that they aren’t getting their money’s worth in those movies? I don’t like to see let alone own something I am don’t feel is worth something? why waste money and be dissatisfied? I would rather feed my money to my gas tank than get something I am not completely sure I will watch or listen to more than once. Blaming a small part of the whole is pure scapegoating. Unless you are someone who thinks only about themselves. oh and second the total percentage of money an artist sees for their music is about 5% of the total cost of purchase. who is really making money??? maybe when they lower prices on stuff, quit distributing crap that is only good the first time, and severely decrease their salaries; then you can come out and say that file sharers and torrent users are what takes money way from artists.I haven’t purchased a CD in 12 years. Am I to blame for the local indy retail store from going out of business? NO, nor am I to blame for crappy music that nobody want to buy(not saying indy music sucks just media in general). I am just pickier on how my money is distributed and I find value in things for myself. if I download something and want to own it I will go out and get a physical copy. if I don’t want to own it I trash it. No actual space taken, no eyesores you regret, just digital space that takes no space. Many other torrent users do this. Would you have heart surgery and them tell the doctor that you want a different heart after the fact?? No, you wouldn’t. And neither would I.

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