Copyright Trolls Overplay Their Hand In Finland, Bringing A Government Microscope To Their Practices

from the oops dept

Copyright trolls operate on a precarious edge.They have to find enough people willing to fall for their threat settlement letters to be profitable, while at the same time not causing enough of a stir to be noticed by the general public or risk backlash. Quite often, copyright trolls do indeed cross this line. It's not all that often, however, that they cross it in spectacular fashion.

Yet that appears to be exactly what they've done in Finland, where so many internet account holders have been sent threat letters that both local law enforcement groups and the national government have been forced to respond.

HS estimates that as many as 60,000 people could be in line to receive cash demands similar to the one detailed above. They come from Hedman Partners, the Helsinki law firm that’s been involved in copyright trolling cases in Finland for the past couple of years. Based on a 2,200 euro settlement, the cash involved is potentially enormous. For every hundred cases settled, the law firm reportedly pockets 130,000 euros for “monitoring costs”, with 90,000 euros going to the rightsholders.

Due to the scale of the problem, complaints from letter recipients are now being reported to various local authorities. After receiving dozens of complaints from bewildered Internet account holders, police were forced to issue a statement last Friday.

That statement from the police essentially amounted to stating that there was no criminal aspect to any of this, that it was instead a civil matter, and could the public please stop inundating them with calls about it, please? It's not surprising that the police were called, however, as these types of threat letters are typically constructed in a manner that might lead the reader to assume there are criminal penalties that could be levied against them. It also seems that many of the bewildered account holders had contacted the police to make a claim of fraud against the copyright troll, a claim the police decided not to pursue.

But the Finnish government might, it seems.

With the police backing away from any involvement, expectations have now fallen on the government to tackle the problem. Thankfully for those involved, the Ministry of Education and Culture appears to be taking the matter seriously and has promised an investigation.

“It is not intended that our legislation should be used for milking [the public],” said ‎Government Counsellor Anna Vuopala. “It seems that it is appropriate for the Ministry to convene the parties involved in order to find out whether the law is being complied with in all respects,” she said.

This is probably the worst case scenario for a copyright troll: creating enough of a fervor with the public to warrant a look-see from the public officials beholden to that public for votes. Specifically, the government is going to examine whether Finnish ISPs are following the law that requires them to hand over account holder information if piracy occurs on an account to a "significant degree." It seems that some of the settlement letters are going to account holders that have, at most, engaged in something of a one-off case of filesharing. Whatever the definition of the laughably vague term "significant degree" might be, it certainly seems obvious that such a degree can't be a single instance.

A crackdown on copyright trolling may now be on the menu, all because the trolls overplayed their hand.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2017 @ 8:49am

    FTFY

    “It is not intended that our legislation should be used for entities other than the governmentto be milking [the public],” said ‎Government Counsellor Anna Vuopala. “It seems that it is appropriate for the Ministry to convene the parties involved in order to find out whether the law is being complied with in all respects,” she said.

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

    • icon
      Ben S (profile), 27 Jan 2017 @ 10:47am

      Re: FTFY

      My understanding, coming from conversations with Fins, is that the government is, for the most part, pretty good at doing what's right for the public. For example, I remember explaining to one girl that in the US, we aren't given a mandatory paid vacation every year at Christmas time by law, and her being rather surprised.

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

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 27 Jan 2017 @ 8:58am

    As usual

    It's that one bad apple making things tough on all the good copyright trolls. ;)

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 27 Jan 2017 @ 9:51am

      Re: As usual

      Please don't talk bad about all copyright trolls. The plain truth is that 99.7 % of copyright trolls give the rest a bad name.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:05am

        Re: Re: As usual

        funny, but ....


        The cops sometimes actually perform useful functions, whereas copyright trolls never do.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 27 Jan 2017 @ 3:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: As usual

          Not true, they often employ lawyers who's ethics and standards make them unfit for any respectable position, keeping such poor scum from starving and having to get real jobs. That's got to count for something right?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2017 @ 8:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: As usual

          Fair point.

          Unfortunately cops of late seem to be engaged with copyright trolls in a race to the bottom.

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

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 27 Jan 2017 @ 9:21am

    Lesson Learned for other Trolls

    How to read the article:

    "The minister notes that you have made $130,000 and also notes that he has not received your campaign contribution. Therefore, he feels an investigation is needed".

    You can't fleece the flock if you don't share appropriately.

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 27 Jan 2017 @ 9:50am

    Righthaven, Prenda etc

    So it's like Righthaven and Prenda, but scaled up to the size of an entire country and getting a government response instead of a pissed off judge.

    Sweet!

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

    • identicon
      David Slater, 28 Jan 2017 @ 2:34am

      Re: Righthaven, Prenda etc

      C'mon guys,

      Please... I've asked you nicely before. Please stop using my patented trademarked monkey-selfie piccie as an avatar. You're just not being fair.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2017 @ 9:54am

    So, what's the latest word on Prenda, anyway? When's the trial?

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 27 Jan 2017 @ 11:46am

    60,000 people not happy with the current crappy distribution channels is worth a lot to trolls.

    It is not intended that our legislation should be used for milking [the public]

    They're clearly not stuffing enough money into the politicians' pockets.

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

  • identicon
    123, 30 Jan 2017 @ 3:01am

    Supposedly the Finnish Government has accepted Daniel Macek's technical proofs of the program, the same person that failed to prove anything substantial in Australia?

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

    • icon
      PasiK (profile), 30 Jan 2017 @ 3:45am

      Re:

      The Market Court of Finland believed the technical reports of Daniel Macek and Simone Richter. At least it believed them to a certain degree. They forced the ISPs to relinquish the contact information of specific account holders.

      To my knowledge, no one (of the sued account holders) has directly questioned the technical proofs or the operation of the program in court, so the Market Court has reserved is judgment on the matter as far as individual cases go. One recent case, which will be resolved this February, may force the Market Court to have some kind of judgment.

      Furthermore, the government investigation mentioned in the article may also change matters. If they don't investigate the trolls in Germany, I'm surprised and deeply disgusted.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

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