When ISPs Become Anti-Troll Advocates: Bahnhof Turns The IP Tables On A Copyright Troll

from the good-guys dept

Copyright trolls still plague the world, unfortunately. While many are the group and individuals that advocate against this form of legal extortion, nearly always built upon shaky evidence at best, too silent have been the ISPs that copyright trolls utilize to send out their settlement letters. For whatever reason, ISPs en masse have decided that it isn't prudent to advocate for their clients. But not all ISPs behave this way. In Sweden, ISP Bahnhof, which we have written about previously for its client-friendly practices, is fighting back against one copyright troll on behalf of its customers in the best way possible: by turning the intellectual property tables back upon them.

Sweden has recently become something of a target for copyright trolls, with Spridningskollen leading the charge. This group, the name of which translates into English as "Distribution Check," uses data gathered by anti-piracy groups to send out the typical threat letters and settlement requests to people who have IP addresses accused of infringing on copyrighted material. A spokesman for Spridningskollen, Gordon Odenbark, insisted that his group's work was necessary for both providing revenue to rights holders and, more importantly, to deter the general public from violating the intellectual property rights of others.

There's just one problem: Bahnhof has a valid trademark for the term "spridningskollen."

“Bahnhof was the first to apply for the Spridningskollen trademark rights at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office,” the ISP announced.

Earlier this year Bahnhof was the first ISP to warn the public about the looming flood of settlement requests. To help the public understand the severity of the issue the ISP launched the site Spridningskollen.org, which they say maps the “spread of extortion letters” from copyright holders.

It's somewhat poetic that a consumer-friendly ISP started a website and got a trademark on a term that a copyright troll then chose to adopt as its name. Bahnhof appears to have started this website in April or so of this year, while the copyright troll's operations appear to have started more recently, which means that this isn't a case of Bahnhof squatting. Instead, it appears that the copyright troll, so concerned in appearance with piracy, didn't bother to do its homework in the trademark arena. And Bahnhof, seeing an opportunity to strike back legitimately in its customers' interests, isn't going to let this chance go by quietly.

Now that the anti-piracy group has ‘stolen’ their name, Bahnhof plans to take action over the apparent trademark infringement.

“It is surprising that those who claim to defend intellectual property rights don’t track it better themselves. It says a lot about the quality level of their so-called initiative,” Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung says.

The ISP is demanding that the website of the anti-piracy group, Spridningskollen.se, is shut down.

“Our lawyers are looking into it. We see the many different ways that interfere with their operation. Extortion letters are unethical, anachronistic and counter-productive,” Karlung says.

The rest of the world needs ISPs like this to assist in the stamping out of disease-fire that is copyright trolls. One can only hope that Sweden will successfully export the concept of an ISP that actually looks out for its customers.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 1:54am

    I only understand trainstation. *scnr*

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 2:51am

    Bahnhof Turns The IP Tables On A Copyright Troll


    Pun intended? Pretty good, whether or not.

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

    • icon
      Gumnos (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 3:49am

      Re: iptables

      Was actually disappointed when it didn't involve the ISP throttling the troll's connection to the internet using some sort of bandwidth-shaping or destination blocking. I mean, blocking access to google (that den of copyright infringement!) would certainly slow down searches for infringement. 😉

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 3:16am

    Admiring Cheaters?

    Spridningskollen.se domain was registered May 26, 2016.

    Bahnhof registered the "Spridningskollen" trademark on August 31, 2016.

    Bahnhof registered the Spridningskollen.org domain September 1, 2016.

    Aren't we supposed to pretend to greater integrity than the speculative invoicing industry?

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

    • icon
      Ray Wodanson (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 8:01am

      Re: Admiring Cheaters?

      “Bahnhof was the first to apply for the Spridningskollen trademark rights at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office,” the ISP announced.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re: Admiring Cheaters?

        And obvious trademark squatting demonstrates "greater integrity" in your scoring system?

        This foolishly and indefensibly presents ammunition to the bad guys. Copyright troll to judge: See, we told you, the ISPs LIE and COMMIT FRAUD to protect their customers' right to STEAL.

        When we stoop, we lose.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 8:29am

      Re: Admiring Cheaters?

      The system of checks and balances is supposed to have greater integrity.

      If Bahnhof's attempt gets voided, there's no reason why lawsuits and requests brought forward by anti-piracy enforcement shouldn't get the same amount of scrutiny.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 2:40pm

        Re: Re: Admiring Cheaters?

        So let me get this straight - copyright reformers should act overtly illegally in hopes that court will treat them the way they hope that the court would treat the copyright industry? And copyright reformers don't even need to pretend to be doing anything related to copyright - obvious trademark squatting will serve just as well? Oh, and by announcing their anti-copyright support while copyright reformers execute this ploy, they're ingratiating themselves with the courts? Guess having ethical standard higher than the copyright trolls cripples my ability to reason the way you do.

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

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 8 Sep 2016 @ 8:35am

      Re: Admiring Cheaters?

      Haven't you been watching? It's not the one with the idea that's first. It's the one that makes it to the patent/trademark office first.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 2:22pm

        Re: Re: Admiring Cheaters?

        Oh, right - ceding the high ground and adopting the tactics of our enemies is always the right approach. I was watching, but I failed to have your "insight."

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 5:29am

    One can only hope that Sweden will successfully export the concept of an ISP that actually looks out for its customers.

    Unfortunately this would harm the customers because we'd have to give up on our extortive fees that prevent our users from receiving extortive fees. Think of the dying puppies! - Comcast

    Ahem. Cannot be exported to the US due to trade barriers. National douchebags aren't compatible.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 7:42am

    Can you stop the Ads for the unsafe and crappy VPN provider

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 6:52pm

    dEAR YOUNG PEOPLE >50 YEARS OLD..

    Im sorry to all you younger folk, for the idiocy of we older folk.
    For some reason, NONE of us have ever gained any basic knowledge of TECH..
    WE have also forgotten HOW cable TV used to be..
    Im sorry because I dont EVEN think these folks, know HOW cars USED to work, NOW work, or SHOULD work..
    I dont think these folks know HOW to balance a Check book, let alone ANYthing about Economy 101..
    Dont think we are ALL dummies... its just those you have elected.(we stopped voting years ago)

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


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