RedTube Smacks Down German Copyright Troll For Attempting To 'Blackmail' Its Viewers

from the barely-legal-trolls-stripped-bare-and-humiliated! dept

German copyright troll U+C (Urmann and Colleagues) recently upped its trolling game by sending out settlement letters to German Redtube viewers who had the misfortune of watching some rather generically-titled porn under its nominal control. U+C’s previous trolling efforts had concentrated on P2P file sharing, so this new move, targeted at viewers of supposedly infringing streams raised several questions.

First and foremost: how did U+C acquire the names and addresses of those who had viewed the streams? Streaming viewers don’t leave IP addresses exposed like P2P sharers do. Redtube denied turning over any user data. The theory arose that U+C had misled the courts by presenting Youtube as a “swap meet,” i.e., a file sharing site. Obviously, Redtube is not in the business of file sharing and under German law, those viewing streams — even if the streams themselves are infringing — cannot be held liable for infringement. The other theory mooted was that U+C was utilizing some sort of malware to trap IP addresses, but no evidence has surfaced that this is the case. (Although, it should be pointed out that Google indicates Redtube “might be hacked.”)

A few German lawyers stepped into the fray, offering their assistance and telling those served with letters to ignore them until further notice. Now, Redtube itself has weighed in on the matter via a press release, and it sounds thoroughly irritated by U+C’s shady activities.

RedTube, the leading provider of adult content with 25 million daily users, refutes the matter in which thousands of RedTube users have received so-called “cease and desist letters”. RedTube stands by its firm opinion that these letters are completely unfounded and that they violate the rights of those who received it in a very serious manner.

RedTube reaffirms its position that the Company takes all its customers personal data very seriously and applies the highest privacy standards for its visitors on an on-going basis.

The Company goes on to emphasize that RedTube certainly did not submit any personal data to any law firm or any authority or entity, and that it seems very likely that the data was obtained by using dishonest measures.

“Serious allegations have surfaced in the media recently,” stated Vice President Alex Taylor, “rest assured that our counsel received an immediate mandate to pursue all necessary actions to make all related entities accountable for the damage that has been caused.” Taylor continued, “In 2013, blackmailing and violating the privacy of German citizens’ private domain should not and will not be tolerated.”

Redtube would like to reach out to its viewers who have received one of the spamming letters, and ask they get in touch with Redtube immediately. If you have received one of these letters, please let us know by contacting us at

So, Redtube’s got your back, Einhänders. It remains to be seen what the court U+C misled will do once this information makes its way back to it. It may have very little effect on what’s already been done, but it will (hopefully) guide its interactions with U+C in the future. In the meantime, those who have been sent letters asking them to pay up are probably safe just running them through the shredder. There doesn’t seem to be any German law under which U+C can hold viewers accountable for streaming allegedly infringing material.

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Comments on “RedTube Smacks Down German Copyright Troll For Attempting To 'Blackmail' Its Viewers”

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out_of_the_blue says:

I'm still sure they were ratted out by Google.

“RedTube certainly did not submit any personal data to any law firm or any authority or entity,” — This is not a flat-out denial. Could be just provided IP addresses. Along with the prior paragraph, it’s boilerplate: “we take X very seriously”, just EMPTY words though looks like a denial. — It’s then a mystery how IP were connected to names (though is EASY cross-correlation if do have access to the tons of data that Google captures; this could be a beta-test of what I predict soon to occur!), but does NOT say much about what Redtube did in this matter.

“So, Redtube’s got your back, Einh?nders.” — Ha, ha, minion. — Anyhoo, that remains to be seen. May just be dodging liability or other ill effects by muddying up the waters.

Google wants you to know you’re under our ever improving state-of-the-art personalized surveillance! We learn your interests, habits, and associations! All “free”, courtesy of other corporations!


Anonymous Coward says:

what the courts that have been misled will do? most likely nothing, because that would be admitting mistakes on their end, and that will never *ever* happen around here

But, from what I heard, there is a host of criminal charges coming towards the scumbag lawyers responsible, ranging from hacking, over fraud to blackmail from quite a few of those who received the letters and their respective lawyers. will be interesting how that develops.

They might just have gone too far for a change.

aldestrawk says:

I believe that U+C placed an Advertisement on Redtube. Ads are placed by Traffic Junky and it looks like the buyer can place it at a specific website. I suspect the Ads can even be placed on a particular webpage. Alternatively, if an ad can contain a script it might be able to tell it is on a page for the particular videos. I am not positive that an ad is served from an advertiser’s website, but if so, the IP address of the viewer can be harvested. I am checking on this (It’s challenging work but somebody should do it).

That is the easiest scenario except for commenting. If a comment on a page can contain XML code that returns the IP of the viewer. Porn sites are, now counter-intuitively, some of the safest sites on the web from malware because the porn purveyors have learned how to restrict user input.

The 3rd alternative is for U+C to upload a honeypot video containing code that, again identifies viewer’s IP addresses. That is riskiest, because if the courts find this out…

The fact that Google indicates the site is hacked is more likely coincidental. Google may have tagged one of their advertiser’s as a source of spam or malware.

The hoodwinking of the court was not just being vague about the nature of Redtube. They are claiming that the software tool gladii 1.1.3 was used to identify the IP addresses. Since that software is particular to identifying IP addresses in a peer-to-peer files sharing context rather than a streaming video context, that claim seems to be a lie.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would bet, that to make matters worse, it will turn out that they are not even representing any copyright holder in this. I suspect that they were betting on the people being to ashamed being caught watching porn for them to cause trouble, like they already did in the past. Too bad it backfired quite spectacularly…

I will enjoy watching this

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

From what I’ve read of the case, odds are good it was a honeypot operation, as several of the videos in question are apparently literally impossible to find mentioned outside of blogs covering this, and the site itself, which strongly suggests they were posted on the streaming site specifically so they could be used to harvest IP addresses and threaten people with extortion letters(seems someone else has been following Prenda’s activities and though ‘I want to get me some of that’).

Anonymous Coward says:

Not a user of redtube. Porn sites have historically proven to be sources of malware by all accounts of articles I’ve read.

Should this resolve down to ads with malware, as lots of sites have had in the past, Google included, who can blame the surfers for using ad block software? I already do that because of seeing some of the folk get hit with infected iFrames. Don’t get me wrong here, I hate a commercial but this blocking of ads is more about security and increasing the speed of the net than about ad hating. Since the industry doesn’t want to police the net for it’s own benefit, don’t blame the users for blocking ads in self protection. I suspect with the way things are going, more and more people will turn to blocking ads.

I refuse to open noscript to sites that demand it to show you content. Again it boils down to security aspect. I’ll leave and go on before I will open it up to see their content. There is always another site with pretty much the same info without having to open yourself up to vulnerabilities.

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re:

“Porn sites have historically proven to be sources of malware”

Historical is the keyword here as this is no longer true. I wish I could remember where I read the article that said that church websites are now more risky for malware than other websites while porn websites are some of the safest now. Porn purveyors were early adopters of the web. They were also some of the first targeted by malware. They learned quickly that user input can be messy and dangerous so it’s the porn sites that were some of the first to ramp up security by restricting user input (not the semi-liquid kind, but XML scripts sneaking past simplistic text barriers).

TlatoSMD says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Tauschb?rse” is simply the German word for P2P or a file-sharing software. It’s the word you keep seeing in the media and in legal documents.

As for how U + C got the IPs, it’s pretty certain by now they did it by paying to re-direct internet users via intermediary URLs to the supposedly infringing content. I don’t know, is this really a “honeypot” if users never even wanted to go there and their browsers are rather hi-jacked, so to speak?

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

point taken about Tauschb?rse. My wife keeps reminding me her German is stuck in the 1980’s when she emigrated to the US. I guess it’s most accurate to say that this word has adopted a new meaning that is related to the old meaning of “trading post”.

I think it is a definite possibility that someone used to cause redirection to infringing content on redtube. I would expect MindGeek to clarify very soon whether they ever use trafficholder at all and, in particular, whether they are responsible for the particular example of redirecting traffic to one of the infringing videos on Redtube. Two of the videos on that list are no longer there, however one is, albeit with a different title. That video is cited in a demand letter as “Miriam’s Adventures”. Its original title in the link posted below is “My Black Stepdad 1” which was released by “Combat Zone”. The video that now resides at that redtube link appears to be the same video but with yet a different title: “Kendra’s stepdad takes care of her”. The earliest comment for that video was posted 3 years ago. Registered users can upload their own videos. I did not register, so it is not obvious to me if such uploaded videos can be seen by unregistered visitors. If they can be seen they are not distinguishable from all the other videos. Anyway a video that has been there for 3 years is not likely to be a honeypot. Also, MindGeek shouldn’t tolerate its continued presence once the demand letters start going out. Yet, it is still there.

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re:

Most interesting! It’s possible that Redtube, itself, was using this forced redirect method to increase traffic to their porn site. That does seem to be the whole purpose of to increase traffic to adult sites. If so, Redtube would do it for many of their other videos as well. It does seem odd to me that the redirect is to a specific video. If they don’t do this I expect Redtube would announce it publicly quite soon.

The other odd thing is that article show increased traffic to what was titled “Miriam’s adventures”. The graphic shows the Redtube file number. That file still exists on Redtube. Although it does not have the same title it is clearly the same video. That video has been sitting there for at least 3 years. If there was a real copyright infringement concern why was Redtube not notified and why do the copyright holder’s not complain about the video still being available on Redtube? As the evidence comes out it is becoming more clear this whole U+C scheme is not about copyright but an extortion scam.

David says:

Re: Re:

I was actually rather surprised to read that there were connections to “Frank Drescher”. That one has been involved in a surprising number of “subscription frauds”, and I actually bought one off my girlfriend for ?10 (basically, she was terrified to death about the threatening letters for a ?99 “yearly subscription” hidden in small print plus mounting add-ons from “collection agencies” with a nice title and with a street corner address ending in the same building with the “service provider” if you bothered checking the maps) and very much wanted to pay, so I told her I’d pay for every followup cost and deal with every followup letter for that “fee”. It basically involved writing and sending one registered letter and securing screen shots from their trap pages in case they really wanted to go to court for it, and after that throwing every further letter from them away.

Filthy rats. The purported owner of the collection agency also had quite the trail of similar fraud and extortion projects of his own.

At any rate, those subscription fraud tactics have been very explicitly judged fraudulent and void, and laws to curb them from the get-go have been also made afterwards, so I’d have expected him to be serving time by now. Apparently no such luck.

Very disappointing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There is definitely suspicious timing here. The two domains used in the redirect chain from (notice not but a typo domain)

were registered on July 22, 2013. The first date for the supposed stream infringement was July 24th. The redirect is for a particular file (video) which strikes me as odd if one accepts that MindGeek, the owner of Redtube, is using to increase traffic to its site. I would expect that they would redirect you to a whole page of video listings.

What is equally suspicious in timing, and is not noted in the article you linked to, is that on July 25th Mindgeek, who used the name Manwin at that time, started its acquisition of Redtube from Bright Imperial Limited. Perhaps some disgruntled employee is responsible for registering these two domains and generating traffic to one of the few posted videos that violated copyright. If that is true, perhaps the same disgruntled employee gave IP addresses of users of those infringing files to U+C.

Just Sayin' says:

redtube perhaps infringing

Most porn tube sites have gotten famous for having “full scenes” and complete content on their site, usually ripped from DVDs or taken without permission from membership pay sites.

Redtube is part of a group that was called Manwin (now called Mindgeek, trying to hide) who’s previous leader is facing heavy tax evasion charges in Germany. The porn tube business has been built on infringing other people’s content for profit, under the guise of “user submitted”, while it is rumored that many sites use in house staff to harvest content from others.

Painting Redtube as snow while innocent is a pretty ignorant place to start a discussion.

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