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Questionable "Best Effort" Copyright Enforcement 123

Posted by kdawson
from the when-best-is-not-good-enough dept.
pmdubs writes "Princeton University Professor Michael Freedman, creator of CoralCDN, discusses how he received around 100 pre-settlement letters in one month from various copyright agencies after invalid BitTorrent tracker requests were issued through CoralCDN's proxies. Interestingly, the participating agencies made no effort whatsoever to verify that the Coral nodes were actually running BitTorrent, which they weren't! He questions just how much effort agencies take to reduce false positives when it comes to DMCA notices. Considering the credence that network operators give to such notices (they'll often cut your service upon receipt), it would seem that the answer is 'not enough.'"
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Questionable "Best Effort" Copyright Enforcement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:16PM (#30371872)

    Sneaking some bitTorrent traffic onto someone's network is the new, legitimized DDOS?

  • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:18PM (#30371896)
    It would be kinda nice if they where required to get the sign off of a judge before submitting a pre-settlement offer. But thats just not how civil cases work. More's the pity, but often the defendant in a civil case needs to go to court and ask for a dismissal if the person leveling the suite has no actual grounds. Just doing so can cost a fair amount, so it boils down to "pay us or we'll sue you can it'll cost more".
  • by Meshach (578918) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:44PM (#30372152)

    It would be kinda nice if they where required to get the sign off of a judge before submitting a pre-settlement offer. But thats just not how civil cases work. More's the pity, but often the defendant in a civil case needs to go to court and ask for a dismissal if the person leveling the suite has no actual grounds. Just doing so can cost a fair amount, so it boils down to "pay us or we'll sue you can it'll cost more".

    That is one of my pet peeves about these frivolous lawsuits. The amount of time/money it can cost to go against an empire with limitless resources seems very prohibitive. Who can afford it? Basically you are damned if you go after them and damned if you don'y (financially).

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:46PM (#30372172)

    Bittorrent allows independent artists/authors/programmers to distribute their works at little to no cost. This is their competition. The more people find independent works (for example, creative commons music, independent video clips, Linux distributions, etc), the more business they lose.

    False threats may lead to people thinking "well I better not run Bittorrent at all, to protect myself/my organization."

    Not to mention that this lets sleazy lawyers "fish" for people willing to pay them off rather than prove they did nothing wrong.

  • Which is cheaper? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikep554 (787194) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:12PM (#30372434)

    They are effectively shifting the work of verification to the recipient of the letter. If you are guilty, they found their mark. If you haven't done what they accuse you of, and you will probably be indignant enough to go through some effort to correct their "error". Sending out the letters without verification requires almost no work from them, has no risk, and sometimes gets them money. Verification would only add more work with no payback in reduction of risk or increase in monetary return.

    I am surprised more people don't see this as a shakedown racket. Also, since the RIAA gets money in return for the cost of a trained monkey running mailmerge in Microsoft Word, I don't see why they haven't purchased an electronic copy of the phone book so they can simply send out letters to everyone in the country.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:22PM (#30372544)

    I like the way you think! Maybe we should wait for the 3 strikes laws so we can take the government and every major corporation of the net for good.

  • I aworkld where (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:33PM (#30372644) Homepage Journal

    guilt is assumed, it's up to to to prove your innocence.

    That is why the DMCA and current copyright enforcement laws are a complete slap in the face to our most important rights.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:38PM (#30372686) Journal

    No, no, embarrassment over his or her love of Britney Spears's music was almost certainly the *reason* that he or she used Tor....

  • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:44PM (#30372728)
    I recall that one of the things built into the DMCA to get it to pass is some fairly harsh penalties for sending out false notices. There have been many documented false notices now, but has anyone actually been hit with a penalty for issuing a false law?
    It's not a just law. It's an extortion racket. Those using it are not sticking to it themselves when the use it as a blunt instrument. It will get worse until companies get fined and people get fired for these instances of "demanding money with menaces" which would put private citizens in jail.
  • by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:04PM (#30372874)
    I would think, if they're using a Tor node at Marquette, the downloader is probably not at Marquette...?
  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:45PM (#30373176) Journal

    I am not a lawyer, and you do not have deep pockets to fight it but....If you've given the entire story they may be violating the DMCA by refusing to reconnect you if you respond to the accusation by saying you were not doing it. Next, it could be defamation to tell other people you were doing something illegal if you were not. It could also be considered coercion to pressure someone to admit to a crime they did not commit. I'd be getting legal advice, preferably pro bono if you can find it.

  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:50PM (#30373212)
    Send your DA a letter a day. Not an email, a physical letter. And yes, contact the EFF. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that needs to see its way into the courts. Especially because this was your own book, there's no grey area where someone might have actually violated copyright, this is a clear cut case where you did absolutely no wrong whatsoever.
  • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:10PM (#30373356)

    I can't see how this is fraud. He returns a signed letter. He's not being deceptive with poor wording, or trying to obfuscate something. Everything is right there in plain English. If the university doesn't bother to read the letter he sent, that's their loss.

    If this is legal for a record company to do (sending a different contract than was agreed on), I don't see why it wouldn't be for a student.

  • Re:False DMCA fee? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pipedwho (1174327) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:19AM (#30374068)

    Actually, it's more along the lines of fraud; akin to mailing out an invoice to a company for a service (or item) that was never provided.

    What the RIAA is doing is similar to a fraudster sending out invoices to everyone in the local business directory knowing that only a small number of those businesses were ever provided with his/her service.

  • Re:False DMCA fee? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dlgeek (1065796) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:23AM (#30374330)
    1.) The notice is published to a third party: The ISP or content provider
    2.) The third party knows the defamed: the defamed is a user/account holder with whom the third party has an existing business relationship
    3.) The notice can harm the third parties reputation: the notice is falsely informing the third party that someone with whom they have a business relationship is engaging in illegal activity while using a service provided by that third party, most likely in violation of the contract (through the inclusion of an acceptable use policy or terms of service) between the third party and that user.

    To me, it sounds like this meets the standard your bring.
  • by Psaakyrn (838406) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @04:55AM (#30375176)

    And the less people attempt, the rarer it'll be.

  • by VShael (62735) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:40AM (#30375574) Journal

    or thieves like you could stop leeching music from everyone else who pays for it.

    I'll only leach from people who haven't paid for it then. Fair?

  • by grahamm (8844) <gmurray@webwayone.co.uk> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:24AM (#30375742) Homepage

    If it is an extortion racket, should the perpetrators not be charged under RICO?

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