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.