No Surprise: Rightscorp Already Abusing Canada's Notice & Notice System To Send Bogus Shakedown Letters

from the why-not dept

While Canada's new notice and notice copyright notification system has some problems, it's significantly better than almost every other attempt to do something similar. Of course, that doesn't mean it won't be abused, and apparently the first company to rush bumbling through the "abuse" door would be none other than Rightscorp, the copyright trolling operation that is no stranger to questionable practices and legal interpretations.

Michael Geist has the details of a totally bogus "notice" that Rightscorp has been sending to Canadian users via the new system. Geist does a nice job highlighting all the "mistakes" with Rightscorp's letter:
The notice falsely warns that the recipient could be liable for up to $150,000 per infringement when the reality is that Canadian law caps liability for non-commercial infringement at $5,000 for all infringements. The notice also warns that the user’s Internet service could be suspended, yet there is no such provision under Canadian law. Moreover, given the existence of the private copying system (which features levies on blank media such as CDs), personal music downloads may qualify as private copying and therefore be legal in Canada.

In addition to misstating Canadian law, the notice is instructive for what it does not say. While a recipient might fear a lawsuit with huge liability, there is very little likelihood of a lawsuit given that Rightscorp and BMG do not have the personal information of the subscriber. To obtain that information, they would need a court order, which can be a very expensive proposition. Moreover, this is merely an allegation that would need to be proven in court (assuming the rights holder is able to obtain a court order for the subscriber information).
From the actual letter itself, it's pretty clear that Rightscorp is just sending an identical version of the letter it sends in the US to ISPs hoping they'll pass it on to the customer (most don't). It even cites US copyright law, rather than Canadian code. And that $150,000 number is the US statutory maximum (and even that's misleading, but that's another post for another time).

Of course, Rightscorp doesn't care. It's not interested in going to court. Its entire business model is based on volume: specifically scaring enough people to "pay up" to avoid a lawsuit that wouldn't be coming in the first place. So what does it care? Under Canadian law, ISPs will pass along the notification, and Rightscorp can cite laws from the US, Canada or Sudan for all it cares about the actual law. All it wants is to frighten people into paying, even if its legal arguments are completely nonsensical.

Filed Under: canada, copyright trolling, notice and notice, takedowns
Companies: bmg, rightscorp


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  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 9 Jan 2015 @ 1:38pm

    Our revenge for not taking Justin Beiber back.!

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

  • icon
    scotts13 (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 1:58pm

    Re:

    Shouldn't attempting to collect money by citing obvious falsehoods be fraud?

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 2:26pm

      Re: Re:

      Yeah, half the stuff Techdirt highlights on here is fraud. But good luck getting a DA to prosecute most of it...

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

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 10 Jan 2015 @ 1:46pm

        Re: Re: Re:

        Shouldn't attempting to collect money by citing obvious falsehoods be fraud?

        But good luck getting a DA to prosecute most of it...

        This being Canuckistan, we have Crown Prosecutors here I believe, and a judiciary which is quite likely to tell the gov't to go piss up a rope when the latter are acting like asses. Cf. medical marijuana growers.

        I suspect the various law societies will be interested in weighing in here too. Bad enough that the US legal system looks like it does. We won't let !@#$ like that fly in Canada.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 4:37pm

    As usual antidirt's heroes have to rely on lawbreaking to get anything done.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:28pm

    Now if only the ones who wrote the law had cared enough about the public to include penalties for those that send fraudulent claims...

    But nope, who cares about the public and protecting them from extortionists, gotta protect that imaginary property! /s

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 7:40pm

      Re:

      but rightsholders are special magical creatures granted super special rights because millions of dollars vanish out of the economy every time a copy is made.

      Pay no attention to the millions being stolen from other business models having to kowtow to the demands of these special creatures who have paid more for their government representation that everyone else.

      Copyright, so important that everyone else has to pay to protect it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:24pm

    Also "Canadian ISPs Responding to Copyright Notices By Adding Information on Notice System, Privacy Concerns"
    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2015/01/canadian-isps-responding-copyright-notices-adding-inform ation-notice-system-privacy-concerns/

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

  • identicon
    Drew Wilson, 10 Jan 2015 @ 2:52am

    Canadian Government Stepping In

    Hi Mike,

    Thought you'd be interested in knowing that Rightscorp is now in hot water with the Canadian government. Apparently, the government is saying they want to put a stop to this: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/150109/stop-threats-canadas-online-pirates-r ights-holders-told

    At least something positive is starting to come out of this story - at least on the surface anyway.

    - IceCube / Drew Wilson

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2015 @ 5:42am

      Re: Canadian Government Stepping In

      Somebody needs to send Rightscorp a nasty letter threatening them with a long vacation at the Baffin Correctional Center in Nunavut. They can sign it Sergeant Tom Clancy, of the North-West Mounted Police.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2015 @ 7:27am

      Re: Canadian Government Stepping In

      Well, they shoulda thought of that before opening the floodgates to these cretins in the first place. Give them an inch they'll take a mile.

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

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 14 Jan 2015 @ 5:16am

      Re: Canadian Government Stepping In

      @ tqk, it seems you're right. Go, Canada!

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

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 10 Jan 2015 @ 6:43pm

    I am sure the rest of the Copyright Troll's who had planned a big wave of ISP subscriber lawsuits will be sending Rightscorp some thank you notes for f*ucking this up and making thing's harder to extort Canadians for cash.

    In not even a week after this law came into place, Rightscorp has managed to get the MP's in parliament to demand Canadian ISP's tell their customers when sending these notices to their subscribers that no identifying subscriber information was handed to the trolls in conjunction with the notice being sent to them.

    I know Rightscorp is hard up for cash due to their low stock price, but it sure does paint a picture of how lazy these clowns are that they try and use U.S. copyright law to Canadian ISP customers.

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

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 10 Jan 2015 @ 7:55pm

      Re:

      ... but it sure does paint a picture of how lazy these clowns are that they try and use U.S. copyright law to Canadian ISP customers.

      That is fairly stunningly incompetent, to not even bother to sanity check what you're sending out to capitalize on a new feature of the law, in another country. "Er, who are these guys?!?"

      Or did they think Canada was just another state in the empire between DC and Alaska and Guam and Japan?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2015 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re:

        The laziest people are the ones that benefit from IP the most. The lazy middlemen that want to make money for doing absolutely nothing.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 11 Jan 2015 @ 4:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hey now, extortion letters don't write themselves!

          ... well, unless you just use the exact same letter, even if the laws between countries are massively different.

          And sending out all those extortion letters, carefully making sure you choose only the truly guilty, that takes a lot of work!

          ... well, unless you don't care one bit about 'guilty or innocent', and just send them out randomly to as many people as you can get email addresses(or in the case of Canada, IP addresses) to.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 Jan 2015 @ 3:29am

    I anxiously await the ensuing lawsuits against Rightscorp. Hope they hire Prenda lawyers for added fun!

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


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