No Surprise: Rightscorp Already Abusing Canada's Notice & Notice System To Send Bogus Shakedown Letters
from the why-not dept
While Canada’s new notice and notice copyright notification system has some problems, it’s significantly better than almost every other attempt to do something similar. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t be abused, and apparently the first company to rush bumbling through the “abuse” door would be none other than Rightscorp, the copyright trolling operation that is no stranger to questionable practices and legal interpretations.
Michael Geist has the details of a totally bogus “notice” that Rightscorp has been sending to Canadian users via the new system. Geist does a nice job highlighting all the “mistakes” with Rightscorp’s letter:
The notice falsely warns that the recipient could be liable for up to $150,000 per infringement when the reality is that Canadian law caps liability for non-commercial infringement at $5,000 for all infringements. The notice also warns that the user?s Internet service could be suspended, yet there is no such provision under Canadian law. Moreover, given the existence of the private copying system (which features levies on blank media such as CDs), personal music downloads may qualify as private copying and therefore be legal in Canada.
In addition to misstating Canadian law, the notice is instructive for what it does not say. While a recipient might fear a lawsuit with huge liability, there is very little likelihood of a lawsuit given that Rightscorp and BMG do not have the personal information of the subscriber. To obtain that information, they would need a court order, which can be a very expensive proposition. Moreover, this is merely an allegation that would need to be proven in court (assuming the rights holder is able to obtain a court order for the subscriber information).
From the actual letter itself, it’s pretty clear that Rightscorp is just sending an identical version of the letter it sends in the US to ISPs hoping they’ll pass it on to the customer (most don’t). It even cites US copyright law, rather than Canadian code. And that $150,000 number is the US statutory maximum (and even that’s misleading, but that’s another post for another time).
Of course, Rightscorp doesn’t care. It’s not interested in going to court. Its entire business model is based on volume: specifically scaring enough people to “pay up” to avoid a lawsuit that wouldn’t be coming in the first place. So what does it care? Under Canadian law, ISPs will pass along the notification, and Rightscorp can cite laws from the US, Canada or Sudan for all it cares about the actual law. All it wants is to frighten people into paying, even if its legal arguments are completely nonsensical.