Many Innocent Users Sent Pre-Settlement Letters Demanding Payment For Infringement

from the borderline-extortion dept

We've already discussed how operations like DigiProtect and ACS:Law are operating a rather questionable business of purposely putting content online, tracking the IP addresses of anyone who downloads that content, and then sending letters demanding payment to avoid a lawsuit. While it's not clear if any of these lawsuits are ever filed, many people are frightened into just paying up, even if they've done nothing wrong. And, in fact, it appears that many innocent users are receiving these letters, in such a blanket campaign. While some may call it "collateral damage" if a small percentage of innocent people receive these letters, it's still quite problematic, and a highly questionable business practice.

Filed Under: copyright infringement, innocent, pre-settlement letters, uk
Companies: acs:law

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  1. icon
    wvhillbilly (profile), 31 Jan 2010 @ 11:13am


    To add another element to the mix: DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). Most ISPs use DHCP to connect to user accounts. DHCP assigns an IP address automatically from a pool of addresses whenever someone logs on. Whenever that user logs off or his lease on that address expires, that address is returned to the pool to be reassigned to another user logging on. When that first user logs on again, he will almost certainly be assigned a different address from the time before, and someone else will be using his previous address. Thus the only way a particular IP address could be linked to a particular user is if the investigator logging that address has an accurate record of the exact time that address was in use and the ISP has an accurate record of who was using what address at exactly what time, or if that user has a fixed IP address. If either is off by even a minute there can be no certainty of who was using what address at what time.

    I suspect some if not all of the RIAA investigators are just plain sloppy in their work, grab the first IP address they see and either don't log the time accurately (or at all) or the ISP doesn't have an accurate log of who was using what address when, and the investigator just assumes he has the right user, grabs it and goes with it.

    As for these investigators tagging people who don't even have a computer, all I can call this is sloppiness cubed and raised to the hundredth power, or just plain malice. It's like they're just picking names and addresses out of a phone book at random and sending them notices.

    I think there should be a way for those who have been falsely accused to gain legal redress in the matter. Problem is, those accused most likely don't have the money or the resources to defend themselves against such accusations, and so settle rather than risk the RIAA and their juggernaut legal machine bankrupting them and ruining them for life.

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