Canada Copyright Troll Threatens Octogenarian Over Download Of A Zombie War Game

from the killer-grandma dept

Copyright trolling is somehow still a thing and it never seems to fail to provide ridiculous examples of miscarriages of justice. It has been long pointed out how rife with inaccuracy the process of threatening individuals with lawsuits and fines based on infringement as evidenced only by IP address is. Even courts have time and time again pointed out that an IP address is not sufficient to identify a person responsible for a given action. Yet the trolls still send out their threat letters, because bullying in this manner generally works.

The latest example of this kind of trolling misfire comes from Canada, where 86-year-old Christine McMillan received a threat letter from CANIPRE over an alleged infringing download of Metro 2033, a game in which the player slaughters zombies in a post-nuclear world.

“I found it quite shocking … I’m 86 years old, no one has access to my computer but me, why would I download a war game?” McMillan told Go Public.

In May, she received two emails forwarded by her internet provider. They were from a private company called Canadian Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement (CANIPRE) claiming she had illegally downloaded Metro 2033, a first-person shooter game where nuclear war survivors have to kill zombies.? McMillan’s IP address, the string of numbers that identifies each computer communicating over a network, was used to download the game.

McMillan says she thought the threat letter was a scam at first and, to be fair, it kind of is. With all the discretion of a carpet-bomb, CANIPRE saw her IP address associated with an infringing download and decided she had to pay $5k as a result. Because of Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act, her ISP forwarded the notices to her blindly. Needless to say, this lovely woman in her eighties was both scared and confused, being told that the threat letters were legal and legit, but having never murdered a digital zombie in her life. Since receiving the letter, her confusion has turned to understandable anger.

“It seems to be a very foolish piece of legislation,” McMillan said. “That somebody can threaten you over the internet … that to me is intimidation and I can’t believe the government would support such action.”

I’m right here with you, Christine, because this kind of fear and threat tactics are generally reserved for the exact kind of scams too often targeting senior citizens that she initially assumed this was. For the courts to push back on the very “evidence” that groups like CANIPRE rely on solely to threaten people with thousands of dollars in settlement offers isn’t so much copyright enforcement as it is extortion. Wireless networks, even when secured, can be used by unauthorized users. Every instance of threatening those whose networks have been accessed in this way to commit copyright infringement is victimizing someone who is already a victim, which is as clear a miscarriage of justice in the Western system as I can think of.

But, again, copyright trolls do this because it works. Even CANIPRE doesn’t defend the practice beyond saying that it is technically legal to do all of this, before bragging about how many people fearfully pay upon demand.

The owner of CANIPRE told Go Public he gets 400 calls and emails from people on a busy day and “most of them” settle.

“Ultimately, we are helping our clients get their educational message out about anti-piracy and theft of content and how it harms them and their rightful marketplace,” Barry Logan said.

When asked about the wording that McMillan found threatening, Logan said his company ran the language by lawyers and it’s legal. He says his company has collected about $500,000 for its clients since the Notice and Notice regime started almost two years ago.

Keep in mind that this is a house of monetary notes built entirely on IP addresses and preying on a public that mostly is unaware of the subtlety in the law and the legal defenses they have at their disposal. Whatever that is, it certainly isn’t justice.

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Companies: canpipre

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Comments on “Canada Copyright Troll Threatens Octogenarian Over Download Of A Zombie War Game”

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30 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The comments on the original CBC article has people referring numerous times to zombies (including some that seem to be questioning the article), and the byline shows that the article was edited several hours after originally posted.

Sadly, it’s more likely that the BBC made the same mistake as Tim did and sourced the inaccurate story before it was edited, than it is that the BBC are secretly avid visitors who like to copy stories from here.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

They do love to target seniors...

A few months ago a family friend received about 30 such copyright notices, forwarded from his ISP under Canada’s Notice on Notice regime.

He’s a senior citizen in his late 80s living in a retirement home. He has just the one PC connected to his cable modem, and no WiFi. He had never heard of BitTorrent or the obscure show in question.

But seniors are lucrative targets for fraud and shakedowns. FaceBook and others have built databases of users that let advertisers and political campaigns “target market” by race, age and other demographics. No doubt this is just one more side-effect.

Anonymous Coward says:

wait...

” but having never murdered a digital zombie in her life.”

Does this mean she tried but was unsuccessful? Maybe her “game” was not not ready for the Zombie Apocalypse? Inquiring minds want to know!

joking aside…

I bet that they are likely going to drop this case to avoid egg on their face, but being the trolls that they are… Let’s once again hope that this might be another nail in the coffin of these bastard ass trolls!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

With Sonic’s name on that IP address, they will be the one getting the letter.

Except that based on stories like this, innocent people can get letters for no apparent reason. You might get a letter associated with your real IP anyway. They’ve sent letters to printers after all.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

I use PIA and while it works absolutely fabulous for my needs, it seemingly wouldn’t work for full time usage as too many times their IPs get blocked by various mainstream sites, making those sites less than fully functional.

The non-techies in house can’t deal with that unfortunately.

Any suggestions for when the VPN IP gets blocked?

Dave Cortright (profile) says:

Re: Re: Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

I’ve not had that problem. Maybe because Sonic isn’t getting flagged as a VPN provider. Perhaps Tor as an alternative? Or use a different VPN provider?

I also have my DSL modem which has 4 Ethernet ports in it. For devices I don’t care about (like my IP phone) I plug straight into it. You could always have a sandboxed computer/laptop that you keep plugged into a bypass port like that for just such needs.

Vinquus (profile) says:

he gets 400 calls and emails from people on a busy day and “most of them” settle… He says his company has collected about $500,000 for its clients since the Notice and Notice regime started almost two years ago.

Hmm let’s see. Four hundred times (let’s say) 250 working days in a year, times five thousand dollars: equals 500 million dollars, not $500k.

I’m guessing they say “$5 to make it go away”, because anything more than nuisance money would make people ask questions.

techno says:

so something sounds off...

This is a Russian game, made by Ukrainians in Malta, that aside from the recent refresh is a bit long in the tooth. Unless it’s the Redux version(which is currently selling for less than $10), you’re talking about a game that released in 2010. I’m wondering if the Candian organization is actually even authorized to be performing this shake down in Canada.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Because we said so… the greatest lie every told to courts.

He must be the porn pirate, despite us finding no evidence at all, because he has a penis.

Our super secret fantastic tech is absolutely perfect, so obviously this bed ridden woman has been downloading our FPS.

At some point the courts need to admit that these systems are ripe for abuse & that the law need to be fixed.

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