Canada Copyright Troll Threatens Octogenarian Over Download Of A Zombie War Game

from the killer-grandma dept

Copyright trolling is somehow still a thing and it never seems to fail to provide ridiculous examples of miscarriages of justice. It has been long pointed out how rife with inaccuracy the process of threatening individuals with lawsuits and fines based on infringement as evidenced only by IP address is. Even courts have time and time again pointed out that an IP address is not sufficient to identify a person responsible for a given action. Yet the trolls still send out their threat letters, because bullying in this manner generally works.

The latest example of this kind of trolling misfire comes from Canada, where 86-year-old Christine McMillan received a threat letter from CANIPRE over an alleged infringing download of Metro 2033, a game in which the player slaughters zombies in a post-nuclear world.

"I found it quite shocking … I'm 86 years old, no one has access to my computer but me, why would I download a war game?" McMillan told Go Public.

In May, she received two emails forwarded by her internet provider. They were from a private company called Canadian Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement (CANIPRE) claiming she had illegally downloaded Metro 2033, a first-person shooter game where nuclear war survivors have to kill zombies.​ McMillan's IP address, the string of numbers that identifies each computer communicating over a network, was used to download the game.

McMillan says she thought the threat letter was a scam at first and, to be fair, it kind of is. With all the discretion of a carpet-bomb, CANIPRE saw her IP address associated with an infringing download and decided she had to pay $5k as a result. Because of Canada's Copyright Modernization Act, her ISP forwarded the notices to her blindly. Needless to say, this lovely woman in her eighties was both scared and confused, being told that the threat letters were legal and legit, but having never murdered a digital zombie in her life. Since receiving the letter, her confusion has turned to understandable anger.

"It seems to be a very foolish piece of legislation," McMillan said. "That somebody can threaten you over the internet … that to me is intimidation and I can't believe the government would support such action."

I'm right here with you, Christine, because this kind of fear and threat tactics are generally reserved for the exact kind of scams too often targeting senior citizens that she initially assumed this was. For the courts to push back on the very "evidence" that groups like CANIPRE rely on solely to threaten people with thousands of dollars in settlement offers isn't so much copyright enforcement as it is extortion. Wireless networks, even when secured, can be used by unauthorized users. Every instance of threatening those whose networks have been accessed in this way to commit copyright infringement is victimizing someone who is already a victim, which is as clear a miscarriage of justice in the Western system as I can think of.

But, again, copyright trolls do this because it works. Even CANIPRE doesn't defend the practice beyond saying that it is technically legal to do all of this, before bragging about how many people fearfully pay upon demand.

The owner of CANIPRE told Go Public he gets 400 calls and emails from people on a busy day and "most of them" settle.

"Ultimately, we are helping our clients get their educational message out about anti-piracy and theft of content and how it harms them and their rightful marketplace," Barry Logan said.

When asked about the wording that McMillan found threatening, Logan said his company ran the language by lawyers and it's legal. He says his company has collected about $500,000 for its clients since the Notice and Notice regime started almost two years ago.

Keep in mind that this is a house of monetary notes built entirely on IP addresses and preying on a public that mostly is unaware of the subtlety in the law and the legal defenses they have at their disposal. Whatever that is, it certainly isn't justice.

Filed Under: canada, christine mcmillan, copyright, copyright trolling, ip address, shakedown
Companies: canpipre


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 11:51am

    There aren't zombies in Metro 2033.

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

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      I know... Cant people tell the difference between a radioactive gene mutation and the un-dead? Sheesh.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 10:55pm

        Re: Re:

        yeah, but I mean...the closest to people you fight are angry ghosts and...well people, living Russians.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 1:40am

        Re: Re:

        The original story correctly calls them mutants. Tim's introduced that factual inaccuracy all by himself.
        Just keeping his hand in, I guess.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 9:18am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, hey, someone at the BBC evidently reads TechDirt, because they're now reporting this story with a "zombie" game, too. Nice fact-checking back to the original story with the correct information, BBC.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 9:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The comments on the original CBC article has people referring numerous times to zombies (including some that seem to be questioning the article), and the byline shows that the article was edited several hours after originally posted.

            Sadly, it's more likely that the BBC made the same mistake as Tim did and sourced the inaccurate story before it was edited, than it is that the BBC are secretly avid visitors who like to copy stories from here.

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

  • icon
    Trails (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 11:54am

    Little do they know

    That gramma is well known in the "scene" as l33tx0|2zG|24|\/|z

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

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:09pm

      Re: Little do they know

      I kept picturing her pulling an Alienware laptop from under the couch, firing up a vpn client, then downloading movies/games while yelling: " Yeah bitches!!! "

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

  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:12pm

    Perhaps....

    ... this is actually a marketing ploy?

    A way to get some new eyes on a six year olde FPS no one cares about other than THQ and CANIPRE?

    and by the WTF, CANIPRE?

    Why not just change the company name to "Canadian IP Vampires Llc ? or is that what CANIPRE actually already stands for?

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

  • icon
    PeterScott (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:32pm

    Stephen Harpers legacy lives on.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:34pm

    They do love to target seniors...

    A few months ago a family friend received about 30 such copyright notices, forwarded from his ISP under Canada's Notice on Notice regime.

    He's a senior citizen in his late 80s living in a retirement home. He has just the one PC connected to his cable modem, and no WiFi. He had never heard of BitTorrent or the obscure show in question.

    But seniors are lucrative targets for fraud and shakedowns. FaceBook and others have built databases of users that let advertisers and political campaigns "target market" by race, age and other demographics. No doubt this is just one more side-effect.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:40pm

    wait...

    " but having never murdered a digital zombie in her life."

    Does this mean she tried but was unsuccessful? Maybe her "game" was not not ready for the Zombie Apocalypse? Inquiring minds want to know!

    joking aside...

    I bet that they are likely going to drop this case to avoid egg on their face, but being the trolls that they are... Let's once again hope that this might be another nail in the coffin of these bastard ass trolls!

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 1:43am

      Re: wait...

      "Does this mean she tried but was unsuccessful?"

      No, it means she's murdered plenty of zombies in the real world, she just can't the hang of it digitally!

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

  • icon
    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:43pm

    Nothing new, but no less disgusting.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:56pm

    What about non-seniors?

    OK, so she'll get out of it because, based on media reaction, apparently an elderly person couldn't be guilty of such a thing. But if they're firing these off indiscriminantly, what happens when an innocent 18­­-35-year-old male gets one?

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 7:23pm

      Re: What about non-seniors?

      That's probably the most common case. But what illustrates the absurdity of their actions is the absurdity of the threat "targeting".

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:58pm

    its clearly a scam he picked a game he had no knowledge of and told people he had "proof" they pirated it. He specifically targets people that have no knowledge of gaming to know that he is intentionally making false claims against them.

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

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 1:03pm

    Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

    I recently updated to a Tomato router that has built in VPN pointing to my ISP's free VPN. With Sonic's name on that IP address, they will be the one getting the letter. And given their previous record, they are going to stand up to IP bullies like this.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

      With Sonic's name on that IP address, they will be the one getting the letter.

      Except that based on stories like this, innocent people can get letters for no apparent reason. You might get a letter associated with your real IP anyway. They've sent letters to printers after all.

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

      • icon
        mhajicek (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 7:44pm

        Re: Re: Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

        Email is not a valid method for delivering legal notices. If it doesn't come with some dead tree it's spam.

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

    • icon
      pixelpusher220 (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 2:42pm

      Re: Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

      I use PIA and while it works absolutely fabulous for my needs, it seemingly wouldn't work for full time usage as too many times their IPs get blocked by various mainstream sites, making those sites less than fully functional.

      The non-techies in house can't deal with that unfortunately.

      Any suggestions for when the VPN IP gets blocked?

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

      • icon
        Dave Cortright (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 2:57pm

        Re: Re: Yet another story reinforcing my whole-house VPN

        I've not had that problem. Maybe because Sonic isn't getting flagged as a VPN provider. Perhaps Tor as an alternative? Or use a different VPN provider?

        I also have my DSL modem which has 4 Ethernet ports in it. For devices I don't care about (like my IP phone) I plug straight into it. You could always have a sandboxed computer/laptop that you keep plugged into a bypass port like that for just such needs.

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

  • identicon
    Nigel, 31 Oct 2016 @ 1:10pm

    Fire up the fax machine

    Send your responses in the form of a 40 page black document.

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

  • icon
    Vinquus (profile), 31 Oct 2016 @ 3:58pm

    he gets 400 calls and emails from people on a busy day and "most of them" settle... He says his company has collected about $500,000 for its clients since the Notice and Notice regime started almost two years ago.

    Hmm let's see. Four hundred times (let's say) 250 working days in a year, times five thousand dollars: equals 500 million dollars, not $500k.

    I'm guessing they say "$5 to make it go away", because anything more than nuisance money would make people ask questions.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 1:18am

      Re:

      Hmm let's see. Four hundred times (let's say) 250 working days in a year, times five thousand dollars: equals 500 million dollars, not $500k.

      Read very well:

      He says his company has collected about $500,000 for its clients

      It's easily explained: The rest goes into the pockets of this middleman.

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

  • identicon
    techno, 31 Oct 2016 @ 11:04pm

    so something sounds off...

    This is a Russian game, made by Ukrainians in Malta, that aside from the recent refresh is a bit long in the tooth. Unless it's the Redux version(which is currently selling for less than $10), you're talking about a game that released in 2010. I'm wondering if the Candian organization is actually even authorized to be performing this shake down in Canada.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 2:21am

    Because we said so... the greatest lie every told to courts.

    He must be the porn pirate, despite us finding no evidence at all, because he has a penis.

    Our super secret fantastic tech is absolutely perfect, so obviously this bed ridden woman has been downloading our FPS.

    At some point the courts need to admit that these systems are ripe for abuse & that the law need to be fixed.

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


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