Tag Archives: copyright troll

ISP Reports Movie Company to Data Protection Agency Over ‘Piracy’ Data

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-reports-movie-company-to-data-protection-agency-over-piracy-data-190530/

While some movie companies are satisfied with the income generated by their content, others are increasingly looking for additional revenue streams via legal action.

One of those companies is Venice PI, the outfit behind the Bruce Willis movie Once Upon a Time in Venice. It has filed several lawsuits in the United States with the aim of extracting cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent users, cases that haven’t always gone in the company’s favor.

In common with other companies involved in so-called “copyright trolling” cases, Venice PI has already found itself in awkward positions in court. That hasn’t prevented it from filing further lawsuits, however.

Indeed, Venice PI and partners have gone after ‘pirate’ services too, including Dragon Box, Showbox, and Popcorn Time. Given the status of these cases, it seems that settlements rather than full trials are still on the agenda.

Venice PI also appears to be testing similar markets overseas, with the company demanding that Spanish ISP Euskaltel hand over the identities of individuals who allegedly downloaded and shared the previously-mentioned Bruce Willis movie.

Euskaltel says that it has repeatedly refused to hand over any data but was eventually ordered by Commercial Court No. 2 of Bilbao to hand over the personal details of subscribers behind IP addresses said to have pirated the movie.

“Despite the repeated refusal of the ISP to deliver any data to the Court, the Commercial Court number 2 of Bilbao issued a ruling dismissing Euskaltel’s opposition allegations, forcing the ISP to provide the Court with the required information,” a statement from Euskaltel reads.

“The Court forced Euskaltel to provide the data of the affected clients, without the possibility of appeal, delivering them to the film producer.”

Of course, it was no surprise when, in recent weeks, Euskaltel customers began receiving correspondence from lawyers representing Venice PI.

Somewhat unusually for such cases, the ISP reports that customers were targeted via their email addresses (rather than regular mail) with demands to pay a 150 euro settlement within five days of the notice “to avoid the initiation of legal proceedings.”

Interestingly – and despite being ordered to hand over the information by the Court – Euskaltel believes the use of the personal data in this manner may constitute a breach of Spain’s Data Protection regulations.

“The Telecommunications operator Euskaltel has filed a complaint with the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) against the film producer Venice PI, LLC, for possible violation of data protection regulations as a result of the use of what the producer did with the Euskaltel customer data,” the company says.

“At no time did the Euskaltel group identify the owners of such IP addresses as authors of any infringement or make any assessment of the legality or illegality of the actions taken by users.”

The ISP says that when it provided information to Venice PI in compliance with an order for preliminary proceedings, the movie company was “not free to decide what to do the data, a circumstance that seems to have been breached and that may constitute an infringement of data protection regulations.”

The complaint was filed with the AEPD (Agencia Española de Protección de Datos) on May 20, 2019. The data protection agency has not yet commented on the complaint.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Suspected ‘Pirate’ Wins Data Disclosure Battle Against Copyright Troll’s Law Firm

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/accused-pirate-wins-data-disclosure-battle-against-copyright-troll-law-firm-190430/

For more than a decade, alleged file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees.

These so-called copyright-trolling efforts are fairly straightforward. Copyright holders obtain a list of ‘pirating’ IP-addresses and then request a subpoena from the court, compelling ISPs to hand over the associated customer data.

In recent years, several news reports have appeared on these cases in the US, UK, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and elsewhere. In Finland, they have been a common sight since 2013.

One of the outfits that spearheaded the practice locally is the Helsinki-based law firm Hedman Partners. Representing a variety of movie companies, it went after tens of thousands of alleged pirates, asking them to pay hundreds of euros in damages each.

One of the firm’s targets was a Ritva Puolakka, While she first appeared to be just another target, Puolakka was not intent on paying the 800 euros in damages the law firm requested. Quite the opposite, she went on the offensive.

Puolakka became an active opponent of the so-called “copyright trolling” practice. She denied any wrongdoing. On top of that, she went after the law firm requesting that it hands over any and all data it had on her, stating that it’s her right to have access to this under local privacy law.

The law film partly complied with this request but also held quite a bit of information back. Handing over all data could cause damage to the business relationship with the rightsholder, the argument was. This undisclosed information was technical evidence of the alleged infringement such as IP-address logs.

The law firm further pointed out that, because the woman had denied distributing films, the information might not apply to her but to someone else.

Puolakka was not satisfied with the limited disclosure and with backing from the data protection officer, she took the matter to the Administrative Court, which sided with her.

The Administrative Court ruled that the law firm didn’t properly justify the limited right of inspection. The law firm’s duty of professional secrecy is not a legitimate ground for restriction, and Puolakka’s right to control her data weighs stronger.

The Court concluded that, under the Personal Data Act, accused file-sharers are allowed to have access to all logging information related to their IP-address, regardless of whether someone else may have used the connection.

While this ruling doesn’t help any defendant to get rid of any settlement demands, it could lead to an administrative overload for the law firm. If tens of thousands of accused pirates request access to all IP-address logs, there’s a lot of paperwork to go through.

TorrentFreak spoke to Puolakka, who also takes part in the local MuroBBS community, which actively helps accused file-sharers. She told us that she’s happy with the outcome and hopes that it will help to frustrate the copyright-trolling efforts.

MuroBBS activist Hasturinpoika, meanwhile, encourages other victims to request their data from Hedman Partners. With the recent ruling and the EU’s new GDPR regulation, the law firm will have to comply.

“I would encourage to all those who have received letters from copyright trolls to use this decision to check out their information because now that GDPR in effect, there is possible to sanction the trolls more severely if they don’t obey with the new regulation,” Hasturinpoika tells us.

The Administrative Court’s decision can still be appealed at the Supreme Administrative Court. However, considering the recent history, Puolakka is not going to back away from her battle against copyright-trolling.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

ISP Questions Impartiality of Judges in Copyright Troll Cases

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-questions-impartiality-of-judges-in-copyright-troll-cases-180602/

Following in the footsteps of similar operations around the world, two years ago the copyright trolling movement landed on Swedish shores.

The pattern was a familiar one, with trolls harvesting IP addresses from BitTorrent swarms and tracing them back to Internet service providers. Then, after presenting evidence to a judge, the trolls obtained orders that compelled ISPs to hand over their customers’ details. From there, the trolls demanded cash payments to make supposed lawsuits disappear.

It’s a controversial business model that rarely receives outside praise. Many ISPs have tried to slow down the flood but most eventually grow tired of battling to protect their customers. The same cannot be said of Swedish ISP Bahnhof.

The ISP, which is also a strong defender of privacy, has become known for fighting back against copyright trolls. Indeed, to thwart them at the very first step, the company deletes IP address logs after just 24 hours, which prevents its customers from being targeted.

Bahnhof says that the copyright business appeared “dirty and corrupt” right from the get go, so it now operates Utpressningskollen.se, a web portal where the ISP publishes data on Swedish legal cases in which copyright owners demand customer data from ISPs through the Patent and Market Courts.

Over the past two years, Bahnhof says it has documented 76 cases of which six are still ongoing, 11 have been waived and a majority 59 have been decided in favor of mainly movie companies. Bahnhof says that when it discovered that 59 out of the 76 cases benefited one party, it felt a need to investigate.

In a detailed report compiled by Bahnhof Communicator Carolina Lindahl and sent to TF, the ISP reveals that it examined the individual decision-makers in the cases before the Courts and found five judges with “questionable impartiality.”

“One of the judges, we can call them Judge 1, has closed 12 of the cases, of which two have been waived and the other 10 have benefitted the copyright owner, mostly movie companies,” Lindahl notes.

“Judge 1 apparently has written several articles in the magazine NIR – Nordiskt Immateriellt Rättsskydd (Nordic Intellectual Property Protection) – which is mainly supported by Svenska Föreningen för Upphovsrätt, the Swedish Association for Copyright (SFU).

“SFU is a member-financed group centered around copyright that publishes articles, hands out scholarships, arranges symposiums, etc. On their website they have a public calendar where Judge 1 appears regularly.”

Bahnhof says that the financiers of the SFU are Sveriges Television AB (Sweden’s national public TV broadcaster), Filmproducenternas Rättsförening (a legally-oriented association for filmproducers), BMG Chrysalis Scandinavia (a media giant) and Fackförbundet för Film och Mediabranschen (a union for the movie and media industry).

“This means that Judge 1 is involved in a copyright association sponsored by the film and media industry, while also judging in copyright cases with the film industry as one of the parties,” the ISP says.

Bahnhof’s also has criticism for Judge 2, who participated as an event speaker for the Swedish Association for Copyright, and Judge 3 who has written for the SFU-supported magazine NIR. According to Lindahl, Judge 4 worked for a bureau that is partly owned by a board member of SFU, who also defended media companies in a “high-profile” Swedish piracy case.

That leaves Judge 5, who handled 10 of the copyright troll cases documented by Bahnhof, waiving one and deciding the remaining nine in favor of a movie company plaintiff.

“Judge 5 has been questioned before and even been accused of bias while judging a high-profile piracy case almost ten years ago. The accusations of bias were motivated by the judge’s membership of SFU and the Swedish Association for Intellectual Property Rights (SFIR), an association with several important individuals of the Swedish copyright community as members, who all defend, represent, or sympathize with the media industry,” Lindahl says.

Bahnhof hasn’t named any of the judges nor has it provided additional details on the “high-profile” case. However, anyone who remembers the infamous trial of ‘The Pirate Bay Four’ a decade ago might recall complaints from the defense (1,2,3) that several judges involved in the case were members of pro-copyright groups.

While there were plenty of calls to consider them biased, in May 2010 the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, a fact Bahnhof recognizes.

“Judge 5 was never sentenced for bias by the court, but regardless of the court’s decision this is still a judge who shares values and has personal connections with [the media industry], and as if that weren’t enough, the judge has induced an additional financial aspect by participating in events paid for by said party,” Lindahl writes.

“The judge has parties and interest holders in their personal network, a private engagement in the subject and a financial connection to one party – textbook characteristics of bias which would make anyone suspicious.”

The decision-makers of the Patent and Market Court and their relations.

The ISP notes that all five judges have connections to the media industry in the cases they judge, which isn’t a great starting point for returning “objective and impartial” results. In its summary, however, the ISP is scathing of the overall system, one in which court cases “almost looked rigged” and appear to be decided in favor of the movie company even before reaching court.

In general, however, Bahnhof says that the processes show a lack of individual attention, such as the court blindly accepting questionable IP address evidence supplied by infamous anti-piracy outfit MaverickEye.

“The court never bothers to control the media company’s only evidence (lists generated by MaverickMonitor, which has proven to be an unreliable software), the court documents contain several typos of varying severity, and the same standard texts are reused in several different cases,” the ISP says.

“The court documents show a lack of care and control, something that can easily be taken advantage of by individuals with shady motives. The findings and discoveries of this investigation are strengthened by the pure numbers mentioned in the beginning which clearly show how one party almost always wins.

“If this is caused by bias, cheating, partiality, bribes, political agenda, conspiracy or pure coincidence we can’t say for sure, but the fact that this process has mainly generated money for the film industry, while citizens have been robbed of their personal integrity and legal certainty, indicates what forces lie behind this machinery,” Bahnhof’s Lindahl concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Legal Blackmail: Zero Cases Brought Against Alleged Pirates in Sweden

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/legal-blackmail-zero-cases-brought-against-alleged-pirates-in-sweden-180525/

While several countries in Europe have wilted under sustained pressure from copyright trolls for more than ten years, Sweden managed to avoid their controversial attacks until fairly recently.

With Germany a decade-old pit of misery, with many hundreds of thousands of letters – by now probably millions – sent out to Internet users demanding cash, Sweden avoided the ranks of its European partners until two years ago

In September 2016 it was revealed that an organization calling itself Spridningskollen (Distribution Check) headed up by law firm Gothia Law, would begin targeting the public.

Its spokesperson described its letters as “speeding tickets” for pirates, in that they would only target the guilty. But there was a huge backlash and just a couple of months later Spridningskollen headed for the hills, without a single collection letter being sent out.

That was the calm before the storm.

In February 2017, Danish law firm Njord Law was found to be at the center of a new troll operation targeting the subscribers of several ISPs, including Telia, Tele2 and Bredbandsbolaget. Court documents revealed that thousands of IP addresses had been harvested by the law firm’s partners who were determined to link them with real-life people.

Indeed, in a single batch, Njord Law was granted permission from the court to obtain the identities of citizens behind 25,000 IP addresses, from whom it hoped to obtain cash settlements of around US$550. But it didn’t stop there.

Time and again the trolls headed back to court in an effort to reach more people although until now the true scale of their operations has been open to question. However, a new investigation carried out by SVT has revealed that the promised copyright troll invasion of Sweden is well underway with a huge level of momentum.

Data collated by the publication reveals that since 2017, the personal details behind more than 50,000 IP addresses have been handed over by Swedish Internet service providers to law firms representing copyright trolls and their partners. By the end of this year, Njord Law alone will have sent out 35,000 letters to Swede’s whose IP addresses have been flagged as allegedly infringing copyright.

Even if one is extremely conservative with the figures, the levels of cash involved are significant. Taking a settlement amount of just $300 per letter, very quickly the copyright trolls are looking at $15,000,000 in revenues. On the perimeter, assuming $550 will make a supposed lawsuit go away, we’re looking at a potential $27,500,000 in takings.

But of course, this dragnet approach doesn’t have the desired effect on all recipients.

In 2017, Njord Law said that only 60% of its letters received any kind of response, meaning that even fewer would be settling with the company. So what happens when the public ignores the threatening letters?

“Yes, we will [go to court],” said lawyer Jeppe Brogaard Clausen last year.

“We wish to resolve matters as much as possible through education and dialogue without the assistance of the court though. It is very expensive both for the rights holders and for plaintiffs if we go to court.”

But despite the tough-talking, SVT’s investigation has turned up an interesting fact. The nuclear option, of taking people to court and winning a case when they refuse to pay, has never happened.

After trawling records held by the Patent and Market Court and all those held by the District Courts dating back five years, SVT did not find a single case of a troll taking a citizen to court and winning a case. Furthermore, no law firm contacted by the publication could show that such a thing had happened.

“In Sweden, we have not yet taken someone to court, but we are planning to file for the right in 2018,” Emelie Svensson, lawyer at Njord Law, told SVT.

While a case may yet reach the courts, when it does it is guaranteed to be a cut-and-dried one. Letter recipients can often say things to damage their case, even when they’re only getting a letter due to their name being on the Internet bill. These are the people who find themselves under the most pressure to pay, whether they’re guilty or not.

“There is a risk of what is known in English as ‘legal blackmailing’,” says Mårten Schultz, professor of civil law at Stockholm University.

“With [the copyright holders’] legal and economic muscles, small citizens are scared into paying claims that they do not legally have to pay.”

It’s a position shared by Marianne Levine, Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Stockholm University.

“One can only show that an IP address appears in some context, but there is no point in the evidence. Namely, that it is the subscriber who also downloaded illegitimate material,” she told SVT.

Njord Law, on the other hand, sees things differently.

“In Sweden, we have no legal case saying that you are not responsible for your IP address,” Emelie Svensson says.

Whether Njord Law will carry through with its threats will remain to be seen but there can be little doubt that while significant numbers of people keep paying up, this practice will continue and escalate. The trolls have come too far to give up now.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

ISPs Win Landmark Case to Protect Privacy of Alleged Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-win-landmark-case-protect-privacy-alleged-pirates-180508/

With waves of piracy settlement letters being sent out across the world, the last line of defense for many accused Internet users has been their ISPs.

In a number of regions, notably the United States, Europe, and the UK, most ISPs have given up the fight, handing subscriber details over to copyright trolls with a minimum of resistance. However, there are companies out there prepared to stand up for their customers’ rights, if eventually.

Over in Denmark, Telenor grew tired of tens of thousands of requests for subscriber details filed by a local law firm on behalf of international copyright troll groups. It previously complied with demands to hand over the details of individuals behind 22,000 IP addresses, around 11% of the 200,000 total handled by ISPs in Denmark. But with no end in sight, the ISP dug in its heels.

“We think there is a fundamental legal problem because the courts do not really decide what is most important: the legal security of the public or the law firms’ commercial interests,” Telenor’s Legal Director Mette Eistrøm Krüger said last year.

Assisted by rival ISP Telia, Telenor subsequently began preparing a case to protect the interests of their customers, refusing in the meantime to comply with disclosure requests in copyright cases. But last October, the District Court ruled against the telecoms companies, ordering them to provide identities to the copyright trolls.

Undeterred, the companies took their case to the Østre Landsret, one of Denmark’s two High Courts. Yesterday their determination paid off with a resounding victory for the ISPs and security for the individuals behind approximately 4,000 IP addresses targeted by Copyright Collection Ltd via law firm Njord Law.

“In its order based on telecommunications legislation, the Court has weighed subscribers’ rights to confidentiality of information regarding their use of the Internet against the interests of rightsholders to obtain information for the purpose of prosecuting claims against the subscribers,” the Court said in a statement.

Noting that the case raised important questions of European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights, the High Court said that after due consideration it would overrule the decision of the District Court. The rights of the copyright holders do not trump the individuals right to privacy, it said.

“The telecommunications companies are therefore not required to disclose the names and addresses of their subscribers,” the Court ruled.

Telenor welcomed the decision, noting that it had received countless requests from law firms to disclose the identities of thousands of subscribers but had declined to hand them over, a decision that has now been endorsed by the High Court.

“This is an important victory for our right to protect our customers’ data,” said Telenor Denmark’s Legal Director, Mette Eistrøm Krüger.

“At Telenor we protect our customers’ data and trust – therefore it has been our conviction that we cannot be forced into almost automatically submitting personal data on our customers simply to support some private actors who are driven by commercial interests.”

Noting that it’s been putting up a fight since 2016 against handing over customers’ data for purposes other than investigating serious crime, Telenor said that the clarity provided by the decision is most welcome.

“We and other Danish telecom companies are required to log customer data for the police to fight serious crime and terrorism – but the legislation has just been insufficient in relation to the use of logged data,” Krüger said.

“Therefore I am pleased that with this judgment the High Court has stated that customers’ legal certainty is most important in these cases.”

The decision was also welcomed by Telia Denmark, with Legal Director Lasse Andersen describing the company as being “really really happy” with “a big win.”

“It is a victory for our customers and for all telecom companies’ customers,” Andersen said.

“They can now feel confident that the data that we collect about them cannot be disclosed for purposes other than the terms under which they are collected as determined by the jurisdiction.

“Therefore, anyone and everybody cannot claim our data. We are pleased that throughout the process we have determined that we will not hand over our data to anyone other than the police with a court order,” Andersen added.

But as the ISPs celebrate, the opposite is true for Njord Law and its copyright troll partners.

“It is a sad message to the Danish film and television industry that the possibilities for self-investigating illegal file sharing are complicated and that the work must be left to the police’s scarce resources,” said Jeppe Brogaard Clausen of Njord Law.

While the ISPs finally stood up for users in these cases, Telenor in particular wishes to emphasize that supporting the activities of pirates is not its aim. The company says it does not support illegal file-sharing “in any way” and is actively working with anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance to prevent unauthorized downloading of movies and other content.

The full decision of the Østre Landsret can be found here (Danish, pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

[$] A successful defense against a copyright troll

Post Syndicated from jake original https://lwn.net/Articles/752485/rss

At the 2018 Legal and
Licensing Workshop
(LLW), which is a yearly gathering
of lawyers and technical folks organized by the Free Software Foundation
Europe (FSFE), attendees got more details on a recent hearing in a German GPL
enforcement case. Marcus von Welser is a lawyer who represented the
defendant, Geniatech,
in a case that was brought by Patrick
McHardy
. In the presentation, von
Welser was joined by
Armijn Hemel, who helped
Geniatech in its compliance efforts. The hearing
was of interest for a number of reasons, not least because McHardy
withdrew his request for an injunction once it became clear that the judge
was leaning in
favor of the defendants
—effectively stopping this case dead in its tracks.

Patrick McHardy and copyright profiteering (Opensource.com)

Post Syndicated from jake original https://lwn.net/Articles/731941/rss

Over at Opensource.com, Heather Meeker, a lawyer who specializes in open-source licensing, published a lengthy FAQ on the GPL enforcement efforts of netfilter developer Patrick McHardy. In it, Meeker looks at how much code McHardy has contributed, specifics of the German legal system that may make it attractive to copyright trolling (or profiteering), and steps that companies and others can take to oppose these kinds of efforts.
Copyright ownership in large projects such as the Linux kernel is complicated. It’s like a patchwork quilt. When developers contribute to the kernel, they don’t sign any contribution agreement or assignment of copyright. The GPL covers their contributions, and the recipient of a copy of the software gets a license, under GPL, directly from all the authors. (The kernel project uses a document called a Developer Certificate of Origin, which does not grant any copyright license.) The contributors’ individual rights exist side-by-side with rights in the project as a whole. So, an author like McHardy would generally own the copyright in the contributions he created, but not in the whole kernel.

[$] The rise of copyright trolls

Post Syndicated from jake original https://lwn.net/Articles/721458/rss

At the 2017 Free
Software Legal and Licensing Workshop
(LLW), which was held April 26-28
in Barcelona, Spain, more information about the GPL enforcement efforts by Patrick McHardy
emerged. The workshop is organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe
(FSFE) and its legal
network
.
A panel discussion on the final day of the workshop discussed
McHardy’s methodology and outlined why those efforts are actually far from
the worst-case scenario of a copyright troll. While the Q&A portion of the
discussion was under Chatham House
Rule
(which was the default for the workshop), the discussion between
the three participants was not—it provided much more detail about McHardy’s efforts, and
copyright trolling in general, than has been previously available publicly.