Tag Archives: copyright trolls

Prolific Pirate Bay User Agrees to Pay $2,900 to Movie Outfits

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/prolific-pirate-bay-user-agrees-to-pay-2900-to-movie-outfits-190617/

Every year, thousands of people are sued in the United States for allegedly sharing pirated video, mostly through BitTorrent.

These efforts share a familiar pattern. After the film companies acquire a subpoena to obtain the personal details of an alleged pirate, they contact this person with a settlement request.

In 2017, movie companies used this strategy to identify the then 72-year-old Mr. Harding from Hawaii, whose Internet connection was used to share more than 1,000 torrents. 

The film companies reached out to the man and offered a hefty $3,900 settlement, which would increase to $4,900 if he failed to respond in time. However, Mr. Harding denied downloading the files, describing the pay-up-or-else demand as “absolutely absurd.”

The accusations eventually made the local press and after a careful review of the matter movie company attorney Kerry Culpepper decided to dismiss the case against the elderly man.

However, that didn’t mean that the downloads were completely disregarded. After digging into the matter, the movie companies learned that, while the offending IP-address was linked to Mr. Harding, the home in question was used by someone else. 

The movie companies ‘ UN4 Productions ‘ and ‘Millennium Funding’ eventually found out that the resident or tenant in question was Mr. Graham. This prompted the rightsholders to file a new federal lawsuit, targeting this man, who they believed was the true ‘pirate.’

This time the accusations were indeed lodged against a prolific downloader. In a declaration submitted to the court Mr. Graham, who is in his fifties, admits that he regularly used The Pirate Bay to download files.

“Since approximately 2016, I have been downloading torrent files of motion pictures from websites of the Pirate Bay at my residence. I believed that it was acceptable to do so because the websites are completely open with their objective to share files,” he states. 

According to the declaration, Mr. Graham often downloaded so many files that he doesn’t remember the names of many torrents. As such, he is not confident that he downloaded the movies “Boyka: Undisputed IV” and Mechanic: Resurrection,” which are listed in the complaint.

The account holder of the Internet connection, who was initially accused, was not aware of this activity.  Mr. Graham, meanwhile, apologized to the rightsholders and agreed not to use The Pirate Bay going forward. 

“I agree to stop using the Pirate Bay,” Mr. Graham writes.

While the man denies liability, he does admit to downloading copyrighted movies through The Pirate Bay and in a consent judgment, submitted to the court, he agrees to a $2,900 settlement to cover costs, fees, and damages. 

In addition, the stipulated consent judgment includes a permanent injunction prohibiting Mr. Graham from infringing the copyrights of the two movie companies going forward. 

A copy of the stipulated consent judgment is available here (pdf).

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

‘Copyright Troll’ Lawyer Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-lawyer-sentenced-to-14-years-in-prison-190614/

In an effort to turn piracy into profit, copyright holders have chased alleged BitTorrent pirates through courts all over the world.

This so-called ‘copyright troll’ model was also adopted by the firm Prenda Law. However, the lawyers involved began to break the law themselves.

The firm was accused of all sorts of wrongdoing including identity theft, misrepresentation, and even deception. Most controversial was the shocking revelation that Prenda uploaded their own torrents to The Pirate Bay, creating a honeypot for the people they later sued over pirated downloads.

This eventually caught the attention of the US Justice Department. In 2015 we first reported that two Pirate Bay co-founders had been questioned by Swedish police, acting on behalf of the FBI. The feds were interested in the honeypot evidence, to build a case against Prenda.

A year later the investigation was finished, resulting in a criminal indictment against Prenda attorneys Paul Hansmeier and John Steele. The US Government accused the pair of various crimes, including money laundering, perjury, mail and wire fraud.

Since then both defendants have signed plea agreements, admitting their guilt in the fraudulent scheme.

Today the first of the two was sentenced. Paul Hansmeier appeared before a federal court in the District of Minnesota, where U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen sentenced the Prenda attorney to 14 years in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release.

The Judge departed upward from the 12.5-year prison sentence the U.S. prosecutor recommended. In addition to the prison sentence, Hansmeier must pay his victims a total of $1.5 million in restitution.

Among other things, Hansmeier instructed his brother to upload torrents of videos he produced himself. In doing so he misled the court, as he made it appear as if the videos were from a third-party company.

Whether the people that were sued were indeed guilty wasn’t much of an issue. This means that many innocent people were likely targeted as well.

“Hansmeier was generally content to take this step without investigating whether the subscriber was, in fact, the infringer. Hansmeier thus inflicted plenty of pain on persons who did not, in fact, download his pornographic bait,” the Government previously wrote.

All victims of the Prenda scheme are all eligible for restitution. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Minnesota previously invited those who were affected by the fraudulent anti-piracy lawyers to come forward.

John Steele, the second defendant in the Prenda case, is scheduled to be sentenced next month. The U.S. prosecutor previously stated that Steele has been very cooperative following his arrest so has recommended an 8-10 year sentence, as FCT notes.

Breaking story, further clarifications and updates will follow if needed.

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

Judge: Number of ‘Unprovable’ Piracy Cases is Alarmingly High

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/judge-number-of-unprovable-piracy-cases-is-alarmingly-high-190513/

By filing thousands of lawsuits over the past two years, Strike 3 Holdings swiftly became one of the most active copyright litigants in the U.S.

These cases target people whose Internet connections were allegedly used to download and share copyright infringing content via BitTorrent. In the case of Strike 3, that’s adult content. 

As is common in these lawsuits, Strike 3 only knows the defendant by an IP-address. It then asks the courts to grant a subpoena, allowing it to ask Internet providers for the personal details of the alleged offenders so it can send a settlement request.

There has been some pushback against these requests in certain courts. In the Eastern District of New York, for example, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein slammed on the brakes recently 

Judge Orenstein denied motions for expedited discovery in thirteen cases. This means that the adult video company can’t get a subpoena to identify the alleged pirates. While we have incidentally seen similar decisions, the motivation, in this case, is worth highlighting.

The thirteen cases

In his order, the Judge writes that allowing Strike 3 to obtain the identities of the account holders creates a risk.

Specifically, it will put Strike 3 “in a position to effectively coerce the identified subscribers into paying thousands of dollars to settle claims that may or may not have merit, so as to avoid either the cost of litigation or the embarrassment of being sued for using unlawful means to view adult material.”

Strike 3 was willing to give the Court assurances by accepting procedural safeguards on how the subpoenaed information can be used. However, considering the company’s history of avoiding judicial oversight, Judge Orenstein prefers not to issue any subpoenas at all. 

And there are more factors at play here. The order mentions that, if subpoenas are issued, it’s likely that Strike 3 will not use the account holders’ details to litigate these cases in court. That’s also backed up by the information the rightsholder shared with the Court. 

Since 2017, Strike 3 has filed 276 cases in the district, but zero have gone to trial.

Of the 143 cases that were resolved in the district, 49 resulted in a settlement and 94 were voluntarily dismissed. The latter number includes 50 cases where Strike 3 wasn’t confident that the defendant is the infringer. In other words, people who are likely wrongfully accused.

From the order

This means that in one-third of the resolved cases, Strike 3 has likely targeted the wrong person. This number is “alarmingly high,” according to the Magistrate Judge. 

“Strike 3 acknowledges that in many cases, the ‘Doe’ it has sued – that is, the subscriber – will prove to be someone other than the person who engaged in the allegedly unlawful conduct the Complaint describes,” the order reads.

“And as it has now revealed in response to my inquiry, the proportion of such unprovable cases is alarmingly high,” Judge Orenstein adds.

This means that Strike 3 is listing many people as Doe defendants, while it knows that quite a few of these are not the actual infringers.

“It is thus apparent that Strike 3 is deliberately asserting claims in a scattershot fashion against a broad array of individuals simply because it is confident that many of them will be liable – even if almost as many of them are not,” the order reads.

This seems to contradict the requirement that copyright holders should have good faith belief in the merit of their claim. While that’s not a violation of the federal rules per se, the Judge sees it as a reason not to issue the subpoenas. 

After all, it is clear that these type of lawsuits are also targeting innocent subscribers.

“While I do not suggest that suing three people because two of them probably committed a provable copyright violation is a technical violation of Rule 11, the certainty that such an approach will impose needless burdens on innocent individuals counsels against a finding of good cause to permit expedited discovery,” the order reads.

Strike 3 also argued that these type of lawsuits are needed to deter others from engaging in copyright infringement. However, the court waved away this argument as well.

Similarly, Judge Orenstein disagrees with Strike 3’s argument that it will be unable to enforce its copyrights if a subpoena is not granted. While this concern is valid, the Judge believes that these types of cases are not the answer, as they are plainly inefficient.

With the latter comment, the order references the work of Idaho Law Professor Annemarie Bridy, who previously published a paper explaining that litigation is not a scalable mechanism to deal with this type of copyright infringement.

In summary, the order delivers a devastating blow to Strike 3 and adds to the recent criticism of these types of lawsuits. If all judges ruled the same way, so-called copyright trolling practice would be finished. However, that’s not the case just yet.

A copy of the order, which dates back a few weeks and has mostly been flying under the radar, is available here (pdf)

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

75-Year-Old Can’t Sleep Following Accusations of Hardcore Porn Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/75-year-old-cant-sleep-following-accusations-of-hardcore-porn-piracy-190428/

The practice of copyright-trolling is now well-established in many countries around the world.

The companies involved often gather IP addresses from BitTorrent swarms, then via the courts, obtain identities of users from their ISPs.

What follows are threats to the account holder, warning that if he or she doesn’t pay a ‘fine’, then court action will follow. This, of course, is boosted with claims that if the process gets this far, things will get much more expensive.

In reality, however, copyright trolls rarely take cases to court and when they do, they tend to head for the hills when people put up a spirited fight. That was demonstrated again earlier this week when a troll targeted an IT specialist, then backed away after claiming his technical knowledge would allow him to cover up any infringement.

Considering the main evidence in most trolling cases is a simple IP address, captured way before the rightsholders even write to a defendant, it raises the question of whether even the trolls have faith that an IP address alone is enough to prosecute a case. Some courts certainly don’t.

Yet that evidence alone appears to form the basis of claims detailed in a letter received by a pensioner in Sweden during March 2019.

The 75-year-old man was told that his IP address (allocated by his ISP TeliaSonera) had been used to share the hardcore porn movie “The Creepers Family Part 7”, which was produced by Girlfriends Films and licensed to MIRCOM International, a company with a long history of involvement in similar cases.

The company doing the tracking was Media Protector International GmbH, which has been providing data for similar cases for more than a decade.

While there can be no doubt that many IP addresses caught in the dragnets of these companies were indeed used to download and share copyrighted content, innocents are regularly caught in the crossfire. The pensioner from Sweden says that’s the case with him.

He shared his story with Bahnhof, a Swedish ISP which acts as a competitor to TeliaSonera and one that offers a sympathetic ear to people targeted by copyright trolls.

“The infringement occurred on Friday February 2, 2018 at 6:43:17, that is, a time that I as a pensioner sleeps,” he told the ISP.

“I am 75 years old and I do not know much about technology, and I wonder if there is anything I can do or if I should just pay?”

This, of course, is exactly the strategy of copyright trolls. Whether their targets are guilty or innocent, they hope their strongly-worded letters will break the resolve of recipients and make them cave in, parting with cash to make the nightmare go away.

“I sleep poorly and feel great concern because of this, I just want it to stop. My wife wants to pay to get rid of the problem, but if we do will it just make things worse?” he added.

“I am afraid that the bills will continue to come from other agencies and companies, it seems to be a business idea that is better than selling movies. This can be my ruin.”

While the mainstream media has largely given up about worrying about those targeted by copyright trolls, history has shown us that cases against pensioners are rarely well received by the public or those in power.

Two years ago, for example, an 83-year-old grandmother from the UK went to the press after being accused of pirating the Robert Redford film The Company You Keep. That attracted the attention of her local member of parliament, who branded the practice “disgusting” and raised the matter with the government.

It is not known whether the woman ever paid up but given the negative publicity and outcry, it seems unlikely. The case certainly never went to court, which is common when those accused by copyright trolls fight back and/or tell their stories in the media and complain to politicians.

For Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung, not enough is being done to protect those wrongly targeted, with citizens currently left to fight for themselves.

“It’s a corrupt system promoting copyright trolls and legal firms that thrive on blackmail. Unfortunately, there is not enough political momentum to change the situation. It’s an ongoing scandal, and I believe that this affects the justice system as a whole,” Karlung told TorrentFreak.

“The only solution is to make this problem as visible as possible. People should also start asking their telecom operators why they save data for time spans of 24 months – Bahnhof only saves for 24 hours.”

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

Victims of Prenda Law ‘Copyright Trolls’ Can Now Register for Restitution

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/victims-of-prenda-law-copyright-trolls-can-now-register-for-restitution-190427/

In an effort to turn piracy into profit, copyright holders have chased alleged BitTorrent pirates through courts all over the world.

This so-called copyright troll scheme was also used by the firm Prenda Law. However, the lawyers involved started to break the law themselves.

The firm was accused of all sorts of wrongdoing including identity theft, misrepresentation, and even deception. Most controversial was the shocking revelation that Prenda uploaded their own torrents to The Pirate Bay, creating a honeypot for the people they later sued over pirated downloads.

This eventually caught the attention of the US Justice Department. In 2015 we first reported that two Pirate Bay co-founders had been questioned by Swedish police, acting on behalf of the FBI. The feds were interested in the honeypot evidence, to build a case against Prenda.

A year later the investigation was finished, resulting in a criminal indictment against Prenda attorneys Paul Hansmeier and John Steele. The US Government accused the two of various crimes, including money laundering, perjury, mail, and wire fraud.

Since then both defendants have both signed plea agreements. They now face years in prison. While it is by no means illegal to go after file-sharers, the Prenda attorneys crossed a line by repeatedly lying to or misleading the courts.

The US prosecutor recently recommended a 12.5-year prison sentence for Paul Hansmeier, who instructed his brother to upload torrents of videos he produced himself. In doing so he misled the court, as he made it appear as if the videos were from a third-party company.

In total, Prenda Law generated roughly $3,000,000 from the fraudulent copyright lawsuits they filed at courts throughout the United States.

Thus far very little has been said about the victims of the scheme but with the final sentencing coming up, this has changed. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Minnesota is now allowing people who were targeted by the scheme to register for restitution.

“HANSMEIER and STEELE were charged and convicted of orchestrating a multi-million dollar fraud scheme in which they obtained payments from victims to settle sham pornography film copyright infringement lawsuits,” the Attorney’s Office writes.

“At the sentencing hearing, the Court may, but is not required to, order HANSMEIER and STEELE to pay restitution to the victims of their scheme.”

The list of potential victims includes everyone who paid a settlement to any of the related companies, including Steele Hansmeier Law, Prenda Law, Alpha Law, Anti-Piracy Group, AF Holdings, Ingenuity 13, Guava LLC, Livewire, and LW Systems.

The Attorney’s Office encourages all potential victims to fill out a form, so it can identify whether they were indeed defrauded by the defendants. The information provided will be shared with the court, but it won’t be available publicly.

The sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for June 4, before Judge Joan N. Ericksen in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Here, it will be decided whether the two defendants must pay restitution, which is not a given.

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.

[$] 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.