Copyright Troll In Finland Gets Dinged For Violating Copyright Law In Trolling Effort

from the troll-thyself dept

The last time we discussed Hedman Partners, the law firm in Finland that has for some time been on a copyright trolling tear throughout the country, it was to mention how the firm appeared to have overplayed its hand. After sending out some sixty-thousand settlement letters, the firm found itself in the cross hairs of the government, with the Ministry of Education and Culture noting that the nation's copyright law was not intended to be a vehicle for milking the general public of money.

While it seems that the actual government response in the intervening year and a half must have been muted, evidenced by the fact that Hedman Partners is still happily trolling away, the firm has now for a second time been dinged for its practices. This time, ironically, the Finnish Bar Association is reprimanding Hedman Partners for violating copyright law in order to send out the settlement letters to supposed copyright infringers in the first place.

Now, this is something of a technicality, though it still speaks to the copyright troll's willingness to route around the very law it cites to bilk money from an unwitting public. This specific complaint revolves around how Hedman Partners is getting the account holder information it is using for its letters, and, importantly, what letters it sends to which account for each alleged infringement. The way it's supposed to work in Finland is that these trolls get an unmasking order from the courts for a specific infringement violation and then only use that account information to contact the account holder for that specific case of infringement. Instead, Hedman Partners appears to have used these unmasking requests more as a clearing house to build an IP address database.

However, it appears that after applying to obtain personal information on behalf of one client, Hatanmaa and Hedman Partners then used that same information to identify subscribers who had allegedly infringed the rights of other clients also managed by the law firm.

This means that when an IP address appeared on lists of those sharing multiple clients’ copyright works, the law firm made only one application to obtain the alleged infringer’s personal details instead of starting a new disclosure process for each client. When ISP subscriber data is handed over to a third-party, it is delivered on the basis that it will be used in a very narrow set of circumstances and certainly not for the benefit of many entertainment industry groups scouring the web for infringement.

The purpose for this is obvious. Customer data is jealously guarded for privacy purposes and account information is only to be handed over when a court finds there to be specific cause for it in a specific case. For a third party to then re-purpose that account information for a scope outside that which the court considered is essentially an end-around the legal process entirely. Each infringement accusation is considered on its own merits, in other words, with the court being involved in the important decision to circumvent the privacy of a customer based on the evidence presented.

For Hedman lawyer Joni Hatanmaa, however, this is all a matter of a vague interpretation of the law, and the Bar Association's reprimand means nothing at all.

“In this case, the Board of Supervisors considered that the application process should have been handled in a different way under copyright law,” he told Helsingin Sanomat. “The decision has made it clear that the law has the potential for a wide range of interpretations.”

In any event, the lawyer says, the cases against infringers will continue. Plenty are still underway and the project continues to expand.

And thus the overplaying of the hand continues. For now, it seems that Hedman Partners will continue to operate unchecked, but it's quite easy to imagine how this disregard for how the law is supposed to apply and be used, not to mention the ramping up of the targeting of Finland's public, could result in eventual backlash.


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  • icon
    hij (profile), 27 Jul 2018 @ 11:08am

    Violation of the GPR?

    Since Finland is part of the EU does using user information in this way violate the GDPR?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2018 @ 12:52pm

      Re: Violation of the GPR?

      yep, they pretty much managed to trash GDPR left, right and center.



      CHAPTER II, Article 5
      Principles relating to processing of personal data
      1. Personal data shall be:
      [...]
      (b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; [...]

      Article 14
      Information to be provided where personal data have not been obtained from the data subject
      [...]
      (c) the purposes of the processing for which the personal data are intended as well as the legal basis for the processing;


      Article 83
      General conditions for imposing administrative fines
      [...]
      5. Infringements of the following provisions shall, in accordance with paragraph 2, be subject to administrative fines up to 20 000 000 EUR, or in the case of an undertaking, up to 4 % of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher:
      (a) the basic principles for processing, including conditions for consent, pursuant to Articles 5, 6, 7 and 9;
      (b) the data subjects' rights pursuant to Articles 12 to 22;
      [...]

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 27 Jul 2018 @ 7:44pm

        Re: Re: Violation of the GPR?

        Odds of them being held accountable are low however, for several reasons:

        1) They're lawyers, and therefore are knowledgeable about how to fight back and weasel out of accusations.

        2) They have money, and therefore can fight back.

        And most importantly...

        3) Their actions are taking place behind the veil of 'copyright enforcement', behind which you can get away with basically anything and have the courts and politicians give you a pass.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2018 @ 7:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Violation of the GPR?

          We should not forget to mention reason #4

          4) All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal then others.

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

  • icon
    AEIO_ (profile), 27 Jul 2018 @ 4:19pm

    No?

    China: "the nation's copyright law was not intended to be a vehicle for milking the general public of money."

    US Gov: Really?? Then you're not doing it right -- here, let us help you. Think of it as a early gift in the upcoming trade wars.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Jul 2018 @ 7:37pm

    Ah good old extor- I mean 'copyright enforcement'

    After sending out some sixty-thousand settlement letters, the firm found itself in the cross hairs of the government, with the Ministry of Education and Culture noting that the nation's copyright law was not intended to be a vehicle for milking the general public of money.

    "... which is not to say we're going to stop you, but you'd better believe we're going to give you disapproving looks and consider expanding that to wagging our fingers in your direction."

    For Hedman lawyer Joni Hatanmaa, however, this is all a matter of a vague interpretation of the law, and the Bar Association's reprimand means nothing at all.

    In their shoes(greedy parasites willing to spread a little/lot suffering if it's profitable) I probably would too, because really, what actual penalties have they faced so far?

    "Oh noes, the bar wagged their finger at our highly lucrative extortion racket, whatever shall we do? Oh, I know, let's just ignore them and carry on making pools of money."

    Ah the joys of 'copyright enforcement', where you can bend and/or break the laws and engage in practices that would be seen as blatant extortion were it done without the cover of 'copyright enforcement'.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2018 @ 8:00pm

    out_of_the_blue's heroes, ladies and gentlemen!

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

  • identicon
    tp, 27 Jul 2018 @ 8:36pm

    Milking is disappearing

    Its great that hedman partners have found the milking pattern. It seems the milking is disappearing, with cows all milked automatically with machines. So great that they try to restore disappearing practises and find modern twist to the practise.

    Copyright laws allow the modern way to milk the people.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2018 @ 9:53pm

      Re: Milking is disappearing

      You support trolling, what a fucking surprise.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 2:40am

      Re: Milking is disappearing

      "Copyright laws allow the modern way to milk the people."

      ...which is exactly why intelligent people see the reason for them to be reformed as soon as possible. A shame you're not one.

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

      • identicon
        tp, 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:07am

        Re: Re: Milking is disappearing

        > > "Copyright laws allow the modern way to milk the people."

        > ...which is exactly why intelligent people see the reason for them to be reformed as soon as possible.

        Sadly for you, all the reforms are going to "wrong" direction. When people don't care about following the rules accurately enough, the only direction they can go is making the rules stricter and increasing the fines and damage awards involved in any violation of the rules.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:50am

          Re: Re: Re: Milking is disappearing

          ...and if you understood human behaviour, you would know that trying to block basic human behaviour and natural rights tends to end up with a lot of civil disobedience and the rules being ignored by so many people that they get revoked.

          The reforms *should* be going into the direction of returning what's been stolen from the public domain, returning copyright terms to less than "effectively infinite", properly punishing people for false takedown notices, honouring the fair use rights that are already written into law, and so on.

          But, if they insist on opposing that and continuing to strip the public of their rights in favour of corporations, you can expect them to continue to be ignored - until the point that they're as worthless as so many other bad laws.

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

          • identicon
            tp, 2 Aug 2018 @ 6:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Milking is disappearing

            > tends to end up with a lot of civil disobedience and the rules being ignored

            This is exactly why green hippies and treehuggers get funny looks whereever they're going. They're trying to play the civil disobedience -card, even though noone else cares whether their ideas of green revolution or "green peace" gets them chained to the trees forever.

            Basically you need to be either crazy or idiot or both if you subscribe to these civil disobedience ideals.

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


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