Copyright Troll Threatens Criminal Charges In Germany Against Domain Registrar
from the not-how-it-works dept
I’ve discussed in the past how problematic it is when people don’t recognize the differences between edge providers and infrastructure providers when it comes to internet services. Usually it’s policymakers (or the press) getting these things confused, but we’ve certainly seen our fair share of attempts by copyright maximalists to use this confusion to their advantage. However, this may be the first I recall of seeing a copyright trolling operation trying to effectively do the same.
Earlier this fall, Mark Jeftovic, from EasyDNS had a blog post about how a German copyright troll, called Fechner Law, had threatened criminal charges against the company if it didn’t take down an allegedly infringing URL and pay a significant cash settlement. Jeftovic responded to Robert Fechner, the young lawyer behind Fechner Law, and pointed out that EasyDNS is merely the domain registrar, and doesn’t host the site in question. Fechner, somewhat obnoxiously hit back by saying that German law required EasyDNS to at least turn over the information about the website owner or face criminal charges — even adding on “additional damages due to your uncooperative and unlawful behaviour will be claimed.”
Dear Mr Jeftovic,
I appreciate your alleged concern for your users? privacy.
Nonetheless, according to OLG Frankfurt a. Main, Urteil v. 22.8.2017, Az. 11 U 71/16 you have to provide us at least with a name and e-mail of the infringer.
If you fail to comply with the law, further proceedings will be to file a criminal complaint against you in order to acquire this information on the basis of § 14 II TMG.
In this case, additional damages due to your uncooperative and unlawful behaviour will be claimed.
We await your reply until 20.09.2019.
Rechtsanwalt Robert Fechner
Jeftovic proceeded to point out that Canada, where he is based, is not Germany (who knew?) and thus was not subject to whatever interpretation of German law Fechner believed was relevant here:
That is all very interesting.
It appears that you do not understand that we are a domain registrar. We are not the alleged copyright infringer. This is not our website. We are not even hosting the website. My company, easyDNS Technologies, Inc., must comply with Canadian privacy law that, in these circumstances, prohibits the disclosure of customer information absent a Court order that is enforceable in Ontario, Canada.
My company must also comply with Canadian copyright law. There is a process to be followed under the Copyright Act (see s. 41.25) if you are actually interested in having the notice provided to the customer and the allegedly infringing photograph taken down. I suggest you follow that process.
Your threat of criminal sanction against a law-abiding passive intermediary is unethical and should be met by your judicial system with serious concern.
We did not receive any of your earlier correspondence. Your letters appear to have been sent by email to [redacted]/@myprivacy.net. (MyPrivacy.net Ltd. is a service that protects the public disclosure of registration details on the ?whois? registry.) MyPrivacy.net is not the owner of the website. The email address, [redacted]/@myprivacy.net, also seems to contain an error (there is a / in the address). Most likely the emails didn?t go anywhere. We urge you to consult a Canadian lawyer to help you understand the privacy and copyright regimes that apply here.
Mark tells me that Fechner has not replied to this email, but this kind of blustering threat letter seems all too common these days from copyright trolls. It seems that, despite their pretend adherence to being all about “law and order,” when it suits their purposes (i.e., shaking people down for money), they don’t much care about the law beyond that it lets them sound scary to people who aren’t knowledgeable enough about the law. This is, as Mark notes in his own email, quite unethical.