Pure Scamming Copyright Troll Implies It's A Gov't Agency And That You Will Face Jail Time If You Don't Pay Up
from the wow dept
Important NoticeHere's what the website looks like as I type this:
Effective immediately, the Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency has ceased operations. Please disregard any notices you received from us, and please do not send us any payments.
... an international organization that helps to enforce copyright laws on the internet worldwide by informing potential copyright law violators regarding the serious possible criminal and/or civil liability they may face, and providing them with an opportunity to help them comply with copyright laws.In the letters they sent out, they went even further, claiming:
We work with law enforcement agencies and strategic partners around the world to enforce copyright laws, and to help prosecute individuals and companies who violate these laws.Also, the letter repeatedly suggests that individuals may face criminal charges for merely downloading a song. The letter (which we've reproduced below) does correctly call out the section of copyright law that highlights criminal penalties, but conveniently leaves out the part that defines what qualifies for criminal enforcement. Oh, and the fact that a private bogus company pretending to be a government agency can't bring criminal charges.
Like all trolls, they demand payment to "avoid further action from being taken against you." From a quick search online, it appears that a bunch of people started receiving these letters in the last week or so, with varying amounts being demanded (generally between $300 and $500, it appears), and with payment being required by March 1st. One hopes that no one actually paid up, though it's likely that some did.
Again, the full letter is below, and even with the company claiming that it has now "ceased operations," some questions remain. It's not at all clear who was behind this. The letters come from a "David Walsh," though it's anybody's guess as to the person's real name. The office, again, was a virtual office, so the person behind this could be anywhere. What's not clear is how they got the information about specific downloads which it could use to accuse people. There are a few different theories floating around, but until there's more proof one way or the other, it remains pure speculation.
Either way, it seems pretty clear that this has gone beyond your everyday copyright troll. While they often go pretty close to the line of "extortion," they can at least claim some marginal legitimacy by actually representing copyright holders. With the ICLEA, that doesn't appear to be true at all. They're misrepresenting who they are, and demanding cash to avoid possible incarceration (which they can't do). It seems like that likely violates all sorts of laws having to do with fraud and extortion. So, whoever is behind this, while they may have chosen to misrepresent criminal copyright law, they might want to spend some time familiarizing themselves with criminal law in other contexts.
Of course, while the DOJ and ICE keep claiming that they're so focused on "criminal" copyright issues these days, one wonders if they'll spend any time or effort to go after the folks behind this actual scam. Or, do they only go after sites that Hollywood doesn't like?
Either way, we've posted the text of one of the letters below to show just how over the top the claims were.
Re: Illegal Internet activity resulting in potential criminal and/or civil charges Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency v. John Doe
Case ID 12345 Confirmation 67890
If this matter is not settled by Friday, March 1, 2013, you may lace potential felony criminal and/or civil charges filed against you. If you are arrested for felony criminal copyright infringement you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and held in jail until you are arraigned in court.
Dear Mr. Doe,
My name is David Walsh and I am a Senior Copyright Law Enforcement Officer with the Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency, an international organization that has been charged with enforcing copyright laws on the Internet worldwide. We work with law enforcement agencies and strategic partners around the world to enforce copyright laws, and to help prosecute individuals and companies who violate these laws.
We have identified illegal Internet activity involving copyright crime occurring by either you, or someone in your household such as a spouse, child, or roommate. Under the United States No Electronic Theft (NET) Act, penalties for willfully infringing copyright law can include a felony criminal conviction that can result in imprisonment, and/or fines of up to several million dollars:
17 U.S.C.§506(a). Penalties for criminal infringement, set forth in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, are a felony conviction entailing up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $250,000. In addition to a criminal conviction and fine, copyright holders can also file a civil court case against the copyright infringer. 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2). In a civil case where the court finds that infringement was committed willfully, the court can award statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.
The copyrighted materials outlined below in the Evidence section of this notice are a small sample of the materials that have been illegally downloaded and shared through your Internet account. As the Internet Service Provider (ISP) account holder, you are legally liable for what occurs over your Internet connection. Evidence collected against you includes the correlation of your IP (Internet Provider) address listed in this notice at the time that the copyright crime we identified was committed.
Evidence: Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency v. John Doe
File Name: Equinox (Skrillex).mp3
Copyright Holder: Psychopathic Records
File Size: 2.1 MB
Date Downloaded: Monday, April 23, 2012 – 5:58 PM Software/Network: FrostWire (BitTorrent)
IP Address: 188.8.131.52
File Name: Cee Lo Green – Fuck You.mp3
Copyright Holder: Elektra Records
File Size: 3.5 MB
Date Downloaded: Saturday, November 19, 2011 – 11:59 PM Software/Network: FrostWire (Gnutella)
IP Address: 184.108.40.206
As you can see by the Evidence we have against you, the copyright crime you committed was done through P2P (Peer-To-Peer) file- sharing software. P2P file-sharing software allows Internet users to share music, movies, software, and other types of files. Some examples of P2P software include LimeWire, FrostWire, Cabos, uTorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, and Ares. Even if you purchased the file – sharing software or subscription to a website, the rights you purchased were for the file-sharing software or subscription itself and not the rights to download, upload, or otherwise share copyrighted materials.
Claiming that you were not aware that you were committing a copyright crime by sharing the files listed in this notice does not absolve you of criminal and/or civil liability, and you are still liable for copyright infringement. In fact, if you read the fine print and/or user agreement associated with the file-sharing program you used or subscription you purchased, you will likely find a clause that places the liability on you as the end user and references the fact that downloading, uploading, or otherwise sharing copyrighted materials is illegal.
If you cannot locate the files listed in this notice, someone with access to your computer may have deleted the files. Either way, you can still be held criminally and/or civilly liable, as a crime has already been committed. Electronic evidence collected against you can still be used to prosecute you, even if the files have been deleted from your computer.
At this point, no criminal and/or civil charges have been filed against you, however if this matter is not settled by Friday, March 1, 2013 then you may face serious potential criminal and/or civil charges filed against you. If you are arrested for felony criminal copyright infringement you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and held in jail until you are arraigned in court.
We are providing you with an opportunity to settle this matter and will accept the sum of $495 to avoid any potential further action from being taken against you. If you act promptly you will help avoid being named as a Defendant in a potential criminal and/or civil lawsuit that can result in a felony criminal conviction causing imprisonment, and/or fines of up to several million dollars. You can pay the settlement amount of $495 and avoid further action from being taken against you by following these steps:
(1) Read and sign the Settlement Agreement included with this notice.
(2) Prepare a check or money order in the amount of $495 made payable to “Net Tech Division/Internet Copyright Agency”. Be sure to reference Case 12345 on your method of payment.
(3) Mail the signed Settlement Agreement along with your settlement payment to:
Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency Net Technology Division
1455 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20004
We will contact you once we receive your Settlement Agreement and payment to confirm that no criminal and/or civil action will be taken against you, along with providing you with steps you can take to help avoid any future legal entanglements.
Enclosed please find a sheet containing answers to questions you may have and a Settlement Agreement. We look forward to your settling this matter before criminal and/or civil action is taken against you.
Senior Copyright Law Enforcement Officer
Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency