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Automated Copyright Settlement Letters Apparently A Lucrative Business

from the pay-up-or-we'll-sue dept

We've covered a few different stories of companies that have been involved in what certainly has a lot of similarities to extortion: sending automated letters insisting that you're violating the law, and demanding payment to prevent a lawsuit. DirecTV was one of the first companies to put a big push behind such a revenue stream, but it was eventually shot down by the courts. The RIAA, of course, has used such a program for a while. More recently, we've seen some companies in Europe experiment with similar programs. The latest is Nexicon, a former cigarette retailer that's now rebuilt itself as an automated legal threat sender, scanning BitTorrent for what it believes is infringing content, and dashing off automated legal notices, demanding payment within 10 days, and suggesting that simply paying up is a lot cheaper than even contacting a lawyer. At what point do politicians realize just how badly the system is being abused? Or do they just let this sort of activity continue?

In the meantime, it looks like ACS:Law, which is one of the organizations that's been involved in a similar settle-or-we'll-sue letter sending campaign has been outed as sending bogus letters to people who had nothing to do with the content they're alleged to have infringed upon. The most amazing thing? The companies involved seem to admit it. In a letter used by multiple firms, they note that "We do not claim that your computer was used to commit the infringing act (although we do not exclude this possibility), nor do we claim that you downloaded our client's work. Our claim is that your Internet connection was used to make our client's work available via one or more P2P networks. The file may not, therefore, be on your computer." But they still want you to pay up, of course. It's guilty until proven innocent, because that's a lot more lucrative.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    CleverName, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 5:35pm

    They had better watchout ... that business method belongs to the RIAA. Not sure if they have a patent yet, but it is probably a trademark.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Sneeje (profile), Jun 29th, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    Gray area of legality, but ...

    What about contacting the local or appropriate bar association? Two things might be persuasive to them. First of all, you have lawyers discouraging the use of other lawyers. Second of all, you have tactics that scream questionable in terms of their ethics.

    For the bar association, this seems like a win-win, they can pound the lawyers for discouraging use of the profession but claim they're doing it for ethical reasons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Jonathan, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 7:37pm

    Re: Gray area of legality, but ...

    I totally agree with you on this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

    I'll say it again:

    "Until Copyright is no longer a method used to economically exploit people, it will only be used as a tool to economically exploit people."

    Spread this around. We need to rattle Michael Jackson back to life with this, teach the Jackson family a thing or two about economic exploitation.

    Billy Mays didn't economically exploit people. Think about that. I feel sad for the whole Mays Family.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 9:27pm

    Google should look at Bing's advertisement algorithm.

    I keen eye may find that Bing's advert process is eerily similar to IP owned and acquired via Doubleclick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Thomas, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 9:43pm

    Like the Godfather

    In the book "The Godfather", Don Corleone says something along the lines of "10 lawyers can steal more than 100 men with guns."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    minijedimaster (profile), Jun 30th, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Re: Like the Godfather

    10 lawyers can steal more than 100 men with guns.

    As true as that may be, just imagine how many lawyers 100 men with guns could kill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2009 @ 8:10am

    Re: Like the Godfather

    Ironically, the best thieves are those that aren't lawyers and don't wield guns. They're called... "thieves".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Like the Godfather

    Actually, your average thief will barely make enough to scrape a living on, assuming that he/she relies solely on lawbreaking for income.

    Compare that to your average lawyer...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Dougie, Jun 30th, 2009 @ 4:01pm

    This is hilarious.
    People who rip the artists and people of the music industry off, complaining about being... ripped off !
    And people who hate the idea of prosecutions for file sharing, desperate for justice when someone takes something from them.
    Oh the irony.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    rosiehazzard, Jun 30th, 2009 @ 8:56pm

    billy may's death

    Check out for his last interview it is sad

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Polo Outlet, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 1:34am

    Polo Outlet

    Your article swept me away with its vast information and great writing. Thank you for sharing your views with such passion. I like your views.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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