Rightscorp's New PR Plan: The More Ridiculous It Gets (Such As By Claiming To Hijack Browsers), The More Press It Will Get

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Over the last few months, there's been tremendous press attention paid to a little nothing of a company called Rightscorp, which has basically tried to become the friendlier face of copyright trolling: signing up copyright holders, sending threat letters to ISPs, hoping those ISPs forward the threats to subscribers, and demanding much smaller fees than traditional copyright trolls (usually around $20). The idea is by being (just slightly) friendlier, and keeping the fees much lower, they might be able to "make it up in volume." The company has been subject to big profiles in Ars Technica, which calls it "RIAA-lite," and Daily Dot, which referred to it as a "boutique anti-piracy firm." Frankly, the only thing that Rightscorp has shown itself to be good at is getting press coverage -- often through outrageous claims, such as saying it found a loophole in the DMCA that lets it send subpoenas to identify ISP subscribers without filing a lawsuit. Lots of copyright trolls think they've found that loophole, only to discover a court already rejected it.

Rightscorp's real strategy seems to be to just keep bombarding ISPs with notices until they wear down and agree to pass them along, and then collecting bits and pieces from folks who agree to pay up. But to do that, it needs to get more copyright holders to sign agreements with the company (and the company sends out tons of press releases when they do), and so it keeps making crazy claims -- like its latest plans to supposedly hijack the browsers of people who don't pay up. TorrentFreak got the transcript of a recent investor conference call by the company, showing that it's still barely taking in any revenue ($440,414 in the first six months of the year, against expenses of $1.8 million), and still wants to get big ISPs to be "compliant" (with Rightscorp's own twisted interpretation of the law), but that, eventually, the plan is to get ISPs to hijack browsers:
“So we start in the beginning of the ISP relationship by demanding the forwarding of notices and the terminations,” Steele told investors.

“But where we want to end up with our scalable copyright system is where it’s not about termination, it’s about compelling the user to make the payment so that they can get back to browsing the web.”

Steele says the trick lies in the ability of ISPs to bring a complete halt to their subscribers’ Internet browsing activities.

“So every ISP has this ability to put up a redirect page. So that’s the goal,” he explained.

“[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what’s called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web.”
Furthermore, the report claims that people are paying a lot more than just $20, because the company is lumping together lots of claims, and asking for $20 for each of them. Of course, being an investor conference call, the company's COO/CTO Robert Steele tries to spin all of this positively, but it's basically all marketing. The company has no real legal basis for what it's doing, and the program will only work if it tricks basically everyone into believing that it has the right to do what it does. So that's why it's constantly pushing out press releases and making claims to drum up press. If it gets big enough, it seems to be hoping to wish the world to act the way it wants it to (the way in which it gets lots of money instead of a tiny pittance).

But, as the TorrentFreak report notes, when an investor asks what percentage of people are actually paying when they get a notice... well, that's "a trade secret." In this context, that means almost no one is paying.

As for the plans to put in this "hard redirect" and hijack your browsing, good luck with that insane idea. The ISPs fought pretty damn hard when the RIAA and MPAA (two much more powerful organizations) demanded such powers with the six strikes "voluntary" agreement. And that happened pre-SOPA. After SOPA, we heard rumblings that the big ISPs were considering "renegotiating" that agreement, though they eventually went ahead with it. The likelihood that any ISP is going to agree to hijack their subscribers' browsing experience because some piddly company wants to start cashing more checks is... pretty low. But keep on talking big, Rightscorp.

Filed Under: anti piracy, browsers, copyright trolling, pr, takedowns
Companies: rightscorp

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Bjake, 29 Sep 2014 @ 9:46am


    These guys really rattled me and I did not respond to her last intimidating warning. Cecilee is from RIGHTSCORP this was her last response to me. I have since put her in my SPAM folder and blocked her phone. Yes, she has been calling me on my cell phone. Not sure how she got that number. :/


    I never said in our conversation that I would be sending you a subpoena. I said I would send you the emails we sent to the ISP that you asked to see. I did just that. I am giving you a warning. If we do not hear from you we will contact your ISP and demand that they implement their terms of service regarding copyright infringement. The torrent does something called “seeding” which means it will share the file illegally over the internet and that is in violation of United States Federal Law. You will be contacted by telephone, mail, and email until we have received payment or our client withdraws the offer of settlement. Once that occurs you will be at risk of litigation. You need to settle these infringements immediately before we are escalating this case. You have my contact information. This case needs to be settled right away. Give me a call to settl the matter.


    From: jbambi
    Sent: Friday, September 26, 2014 1:44 PM
    To: Cecilee Agent #333
    Subject: Re: Unpaid Copyright Infringement Violations

    Per our phone conversation today, September 26, 2014.

    I received a letter from RIGHTSCORP dated September 18, 2014. I found it odd that there was no return address on the letterhead. In addition, the list of alleged downloads are the same 8 downloads repeated 3 times in the same order over three separate months, which in itself is extremely odd. I do not download music illegal. I contacted my Internet Service Provider, Greenfield Communication, on September 20th. I spoke with a Anthony, he said Greenfield had not received any notification or subpoena concerning the alleged copyright infringement and that I was not in danger of losing my Internet service.

    In our phone conversation today, I requested a copy of the subpoena that was sent to Greenfield. After checking with your supervisor you said that you would send a copy of the subpoena as well as the the notifications to Greenfield. I received an email trail of notifications, the subpoena was not attached.

    I have contacted Greenfield Communications again to verify if they have received any notifications or a subpoena from RIGHTSCORP. I have also sent a copy of the letter and attachment from RIGHTSCORP to my legal representation to seek advice in this matter.

    I will await contact from my Internet provider and my legal representation before contacting you again.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.