Copyright Troll Rightscorp Ramps Up Its Efforts To Get ISPs To Push Its Payment Demands On Users

from the intended-consequences dept

Remember Rightscorp? This is the wannabe "friendlier" copyright troll, that sends smaller bills than the traditional copyright trolls. Over the years, it's actually struggled to make any money... and has struggled with some of its more bizarre legal theories. Unfortunately, in late 2015, one of Rightscorp's partners got a big ruling against Cox, arguing that Cox violated the DMCA by not properly terminating repeat infringers (as we noted at the time, this was based on a tortured interpretation of the law). The case is still winding its way through the appeals process, but Rightscorp and its partners have continued to push forward, using the ruling in that BMG v. Cox case to pressure others. At least one other ISP has already been sued.

And, now, the company is out claiming that it's talking with "top ISPs" to get them to incorporate Rightscorp's copyright trolling efforts directly into their own infringement mitigation procedures:

“An ISP Good Corporate Citizenship Program is what we feel will drive revenue associated with our primary revenue model. This program is an attempt to garner the attention and ultimately inspire a behavior shift in any ISP that elects to embrace our suggestions to be DMCA-compliant,” the company told shareholders yesterday.

“In this program, we ask for the ISPs to forward our notices referencing the infringement and the settlement offer. We ask that ISPs take action against repeat infringers through suspensions or a redirect screen. A redirect screen will guide the infringer to our payment screen while limiting all but essential internet access.”

In other words, Rightscorp's demand and payment processes would get included directly into how the ISP notifies a user that someone has discovered the possibility of infringing activity on the account. Of course, issuing a press release saying that they're "now beginning to have some initial and very thorough discussions with a handful of the top ISPs" is... weird. You do your press releases after you come to a deal, not as you're beginning a conversation with companies who almost certainly don't want to work with you. The reality here is likely that this press release is just an attempt to signal to ISPs to be more receptive. I highly doubt it will work on most large ISPs who are slightly more sophisticated than to be duped by something as silly as this.

However, the threat of the BMG case being seen as good law is still a huge problem for those ISPs and hopefully the case will get dumped, and we can all go back to watching Rightscorp fail to make any money from its plans. Remember, in the BMG case, it came out that Rightscorp had a phone script that told people it accused of infringing that if they wanted to prove they were "innocent" they had to hand their computers over to the local police department so they could perform a search. Really. Does anyone think that a company with that sort of ethical compass should be the official partner of any ISP?

On top of that, as TorrentFreak points out in its article, for all the talk of how Rightscorp is a "friendlier" copyright troll in that it only demands $20 to $30 when it finds an infringement, that's misleading. Because, like responding to spam leading to more spam, paying Rightscorp can lead to many more demands:

In the wake of several similar reports, this week a Reddit user reported that Rightscorp asked him to pay a single $20 fine for pirating a song. After paying up, the next day the company allegedly called the user back and demanded payment for a further 200 notices.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2017 @ 1:41pm

    "is what we feel will drive revenue"

    At least they are honest on that part!

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2017 @ 1:50pm

    "Unfortunately" because Rightscorp collects on behalf of creators and creators shouldn't make money because Mike Masnick hates them.

    Got that everyone? Good.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2017 @ 1:55pm

    >A redirect screen will guide the infringer to our payment screen while limiting all but essential internet access.”

    In other words we think somebody at your address infringed on copyright, and we want somebody there to pay us, and we do not care if its the infringer, or somebody else, so long as we get paid.

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

  • identicon
    Christenson, 19 Jun 2017 @ 2:12pm

    Moral Compasses...

    From the article:
    Remember, in the BMG case, it came out that Rightscorp had a phone script that told people it accused of infringing that if they wanted to prove they were "innocent" they had to hand their computers over to the local police department so they could perform a search. Really. Does anyone think that a company with that sort of ethical compass should be the official partner of any ISP?
    ****
    Why yes, I think that's the same moral compass as the ISPs...who only don't do that sort of thing because they know the backlash tempts fate!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2017 @ 12:07pm

      Re: Moral Compasses...

      The better argument to be made is: "Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law".

      These people assume guilt by association, and in the case of the phone scripts, demand proof from the defendant that they are innocent of their accusation. The burden of proof should lie on the shoulders of the accusing party in this case, and under no circumstance should the defendant suffer any penalty without the approval of a judge. Anything less is injustice, and the defendant should be entitled to compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of any penalty that was foisted upon them by RightsCorp or it's collaborators. (The ISP "partners".)

      That's before you get into the obvious racketeering that these buffoons are engaging in. ("Hey that's a nice internet connection, be a shame if something were to happen to it.") For that, they themselves should be facing fines and jail time for their abuse of the courts and attempts at strongarming money from innocent people. Considering that is also RightsCorp's primary business model, (by their own admission no less), their corporate charter should be revoked and their operations forcibly shutdown under RICO.

      If you want to enforce your copyright, that's fine, but you need to prove guilt, in a court, before you demand restitution.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2017 @ 2:55pm

    This is going to result in a lot of ISP customers terminating their ISP accounts. Just exactly what does Rightscorp consider essential internet access? Oh yeah, only email. LOLS. This is going to hurt ISP's right where it counts, the loss of thousands if ISP customers terminating their services.

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

    • icon
      Rapnel (profile), 19 Jun 2017 @ 4:39pm

      Re:

      Hold on. They're going to terminate their accounts because why, again? Oh. Right, because they have three or four different choices and one of them even throws in a VPN because options. No, I think if you get notice in the RightsCorp dream your only real choice is pay or fight(and pay more).

      It's weird that the "media" industry even needs or wants a bunch of shitheads like this working in their name. It's the Internet, if you can't sell your "good" media you're an idiot. Oh. Right. You think it's worth *that* much and you can work release windows for *that* much more. We're surrounded by idiots.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2017 @ 5:37pm

    "After paying up, the next day the company allegedly called the user back and demanded payment for a further 200 notices."

    This is known as "servicing the customer"

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

  • identicon
    one_of_the_best, 19 Jun 2017 @ 6:12pm

    What I learned from reading the Dec 2015 TD link, now trying to bridge the gulf between pirates and lawyers:

    If you pirates will for once try to understand, you'll be informed on several points where continually go wrong!

    1) DMCA notices from rightsholder by way of ISP to subscriber are legal notice, and are represented by the rightsholder as legal judgement to best of knowledge and belief that said infringement occurred.

    2) Screen name "Whatever" and an AC struggle mightily, but are up against sheer gainsaying by the militantly ignorant. This statutory legal process is much abridged from criminal: you DON'T GET full due process. You pirates simply don't understand, and refuse to learn, that statute makes this THE SYSTEM for dealing with copyright infringement OUTSIDE OF COURTS; that if after notice subscriber doesn't deny the charges, then ISPs must regard it as PROVEN. That's pretty solid legally, same as sending a bill, which if unanswered can later be used as evidence in court. It's modified here for the convenience of rightsholders -- the only ones who matter in the Constitution besides in my opinion -- and conveniently routed through same system that was used to create the liability for a fine.

    3) Ha, ha! Cox out $33 million! -- Sometime back in late summer of '015 I asked: "When exactly did ISPs become first line of Defendant's attorneys?" -- I knew that couldn't go on. Now you see the practical problems ISPs get into when argue for (and secretly re-connect) subscribers, and defeat the purpose of DMCA (to keep getting income). $25 million plus $8 million. They'll soon learn. Will almost certainly stand through appeals.

    ---------- pause for two seconds -----------

    That really is the law, the process that STATUTE makes in this area.

    Key specific: you DO NOT get full level of process as for criminal charges! Get that out of your mind, leads you astray. Allegations by DMCA notice ARE practically verdict. This is not Constitutional law, it's STATUTE.

    Give up the notion that it's "extortion" because you're simply WRONG! Those legalisms will not help you, wrong court. DMCA notices are supposed to be based on sound belief, which I think likely easily found. We all know pirating goes on, and there's no doubt some effort to see that these (early ones) are valid. -- If not, there's process to contest.

    You will still argue that's unfair, and will go insane because may eventually prevent you from getting free content, but should at least MAKE YOURSELF UNDERSTAND THAT'S THE LAW. -- To be accurate, it's what courts will PRESUME. Start figuring out presumptive law.

    >>> THIS ONCE I'm trying to help you pirates at least to understand statute. You don't know the hidden tricks of CORPORATIZED CIVIL LAW, have premises wrong, and will get nowhere until grasp the above. It'll serve you right if don't read, or Techdirt blocks.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2017 @ 12:17pm

      Re: What I learned from reading the Dec 2015 TD link, now trying to bridge the gulf between pirates and lawyers:

      Then the law is corrupt and needs to be fixed.

      Whenever a law _presumes_ that you are guilty of a crime, it's ripe for abuse.

      Corporations need to be knocked back down a peg (or six). They think they can rule with an iron fist and "change the deal" whenever they feel like it with impunity. In short they are, (not all of them, but quite a number of them), no different than the dictators and kings of old, and they need to be shown the same door that we kicked those dictators and kings out of.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2017 @ 1:25pm

      Re: What I learned from reading the Dec 2015 TD link, now trying to bridge the gulf between pirates and lawyers:

      "If you pirates will" ...

      Guess I do not need to read the rest of it as I am not a pirate.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 20 Jun 2017 @ 3:49pm

        Downright polite really

        It's always handy when someone starts out with a line and/or tell letting people know that reading past that will be a waste of time. Such a great time-saver.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2017 @ 6:14pm

      Re: What I learned from reading the Dec 2015 TD link, now trying to bridge the gulf between pirates and lawyers:

      So not only does the narcissistic, failed-to-be-anonymous chump give himself a self-aggrandizing moniker (that also hints at his previous pseudonym, what a surprise), he celebrates "corporatized civil law". After years of bitching about corporations.

      Proves what anyone with a functioning brain cell has known all along - out_of_the_blue is cray-cray for corporate cock.

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

  • identicon
    YaOG, 19 Jun 2017 @ 6:41pm

    It's called blackmail...

    So, essentially here's the conversation between ReichsCorpse and generic ISP...


    Yoh, ISP, we heahz you ain't falling intah line wit our "Screw your customah sanz lube" prograhm.

    T'would be a shame if we were to have to break all your stuffz and stealz all yah loot. You'd best get wit da program and forward deze hehr fake billz see, gets us our scammola from da pissed-ons yous calls customahz, beforz wez havtuz poundz yaz into da sandz.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Jun 2017 @ 8:03pm

    "repeat infringers"

    The problem with "repeat infringers" is it is based on accusations.
    While I am sure the corporations would love that to be enough, innocent until proven guilty is that pesky law of the land.

    We have a secret black box, that they actually were sanctioned for hiding the code from review in court, generating these alleged records of alleged infringement.

    We can point at an IP address, but many courts have rightly ruled that an IP is not a person. Holding the person who pays for the account liable for actions they might have no knowledge of runs afoul of that.

    We can demand the recipients of these notices take some action, but the law doesn't demand passwords on wifi.

    As I have said before about the Judge who oversaw the case...
    If I sent 30 notices that claimed he was a pedophile but if he paid $200 for each notice I'd not report him to authorities, how would he feel?
    Then how is is possible that notices from a company who gets paid for sending notices with no vetting is allowed to get a payday from customers and the ISPs?

    We have a legal system, allowing a kangaroo corporate quasi-legal system to set the law of the land runs afoul of it. We have laws, they have remedies under that law... sorry if its not as profitable and threatening to sue unless you pay them off.

    Copyright, it makes extortion seem to be legal.... just ask the copyright trolls (well not Prenda, cause they pissed off the right people to get stopped).

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 Jun 2017 @ 4:59am

      Re: "repeat infringers"

      The problem with "repeat infringers" is it is based on accusations.

      And that right there nicely highlights how absurd their 'You need to disconnect 'repeat infringers' assertion is, and makes the fact that they actually got a judge to buy their crap all the more insane.

      The 'repeat infringers' they're talking about aren't people that have been found guilty of copyright infringement, instead it's (as far as I can tell) people that have merely been accused of copyright infringement. Boil it down and they're basically saying that an accusation of guilt should be treated the same as a finding of guilt, such that multiple accusations should be grounds for disconnecting someone from the gorram internet.

      Unless of course the accused wants to caught up a 'little' money and make that problem go away of course...

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Jun 2017 @ 8:51am

        Re: Re: "repeat infringers"

        Its the same mentality in the Judiciary that let Prenda flourish. No lawyer would lie to me in court or mislead me. If they say its a notice, its a notice.

        They spew some technobabble and the Judge just nods never asking a question because they don't want to look foolish, even if they don't understand anything about the case.

        I wish the lawyer for Cox had had the balls to use the pedophile example I use. Just because someone says something doesn't make it true & a Judge accepting assertions as actual facts undermines the entire legal system

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 19 Jun 2017 @ 8:25pm

    Truth in naming

    They should be required to change their name to Blightcorp.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2017 @ 1:39am

    Raiders of the Lost Ark Revisited

    "...it's talking with 'top ISPs'..."

    Who?
    TOP ISPs.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 20 Jun 2017 @ 2:11am

    Good Corporate Citizen = MAFIA enforcer?

    'Being the good guys' does not seem to rate very high on the ISPs priority scale. That aside, googling for 'Prenda' might help the ISPs realize that blackmailing alleged pirates can not only be seen as very bad, it can be the direct road to bankruptcy and worse.

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

  • identicon
    Andy, 20 Jun 2017 @ 3:58am

    Missing paren

    ... repeat infringers (as we noted at the ...

    As a programmer, I search frantically for closing parens. When I don't find them, I panic a little and feel unfulfilled and uneasy.

    I may recover from this, but it's going to take time.

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 20 Jun 2017 @ 7:30am

    The copyright industry claims to be mad at ISPs for not terminating the accounts of people accused of multiple copyright infringements, but then they turn around and want the ISPs to pass along their cash demands. Someone should point out to the courts that the lawsuits are a scam designed to get the ISPs to help them extort money from users. That they really want to squeeze money out of them, not get them booted from the ISP.

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Jun 2017 @ 8:54am

      Re:

      RightsCorp is just the latest in a long line of scum, they just have the labels willing to pay up for court cases while the company is bleeding cash with paying the top men way to much money while declining revenue.

      There were/are a few outfits who sent 'DMCA Notices' that were thinly disguised pay us or else threats. Some ISPs got pissed and started cutting off the payment information portion, so that they had compiled with forwarding the notice.

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

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 20 Jun 2017 @ 3:53pm

    RightsCorpse desperately trying to find new ways to plug the giant hole bleeding what little money they bring in?

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


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