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Piracy Your Rights Online

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up 376

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.
A few weeks ago, Rightscorp announced plans to have ISPs disconnect repeat copyright infringers. mpicpp (3454017) wrote in with news that Rightscorp announced during their latest earnings call further plans to require ISPs to block all web access (using a proxy system similar to hotel / college campus wifi logins) until users admit guilt and pay a settlement fine (replacing the current system of ISPs merely forwarding notices to users). Quoting TorrentFreak: [Rightscorp] says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each. ... What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" in order to "get all of them compliant" (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved. ... "[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what's called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web." The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp", one that costs $20 to have removed.
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

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  • "Hard redirect" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Megane (129182) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:34PM (#47699439) Homepage
    aka "extortion"
    • Tribute. but, it's the same thing.
    • by mikeiver1 (1630021) on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:10PM (#47699695)
      So just how would one handle the issue of not ever having ever downloaded any copyrighted content and still having gotten locked out wrongly? Oh yah, just pay the $20.00 fee and then challenge it later to get reimbursed....SURE! This friends is the business model of the future of entertainment. Grab your ankles and say "thank you sir, may I have another?"
    • by techno-vampire (666512) on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:39PM (#47699863) Homepage
      I don't know how it works in other countries, but here in the USofA, there's a little thing known as "the presumption of innocence," meaning that the accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. This does the exact opposite by assuming that anybody who's accused must be guilty and penalizing them without allowing them to present a defense. No judge would ever be stupid enough to rule in favor of Rightscorp, making the idea DOA at best, even if they don't get sued into bankruptcy the first time they try to enforce it.
      • For the same reason speed cameras with automated fines should be unconstitutional too, but we still have them.

        • by morgauxo (974071)

          From what I have heard all you have to do is claim it wasn't you driving your car and that you don't know who it was. I haven't tried it. I was told that works though.

          • At least in Canada the reasoning is that the ticket is issued against the car and not the driver. That's why there are no points issued against the driver when a ticket is issued via a red light camera.
      • Re:Unconstitutinal (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sixoh1 (996418) on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:03PM (#47700003) Homepage

        While its nice to think that the Constitution prevents this kind of thing, it is generally ONLY applicable to criminal defense. You can still be indicted, arrested and jailed awaiting trial, and until you enter the courtroom this presumption of innocence doesn't event matter. You only get the benefit from this Constitutional right _AFTER_ you have been through all of the previous steps, so don't expect to pull out your laminated copy of the Bill of Rights as a shield.

        In a civil matters, particularly a trial, you are not entitled to automatic presumption of innocence as a defense, and not even a tiny amount of deference is due to you in the exercise and enforcement of a contract you might have with your ISP.

        About the only legal protection an individual might have is a class-action lawsuit alleging fraud against the ISP, and that's something that takes years to work its way up to the pain threshold of settlement or trial.

        • by mark-t (151149)
          That's all very well and good, except that copyright infringement actually *IS* really against the law. So why shouldn't a presumption of innocence exist?
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Because it's a civil and not criminal matter?

            • by countach (534280)

              Yes, the real problem is not so much presumption of innocence, but rather lack of due process.

      • Re:Unconstitutinal (Score:5, Insightful)

        by s.petry (762400) on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:09PM (#47700051)

        Correct in concept, wrong in practice. Today you are guilty first, and parallel construction will be used to ensure guilt if someone want's you that way. Unless of course you have a whole lot of money, in which case you will never see charges let alone a trial.

        I hope you are right that it never happens, but in practice how long was that porn company [courthousenews.com] extorting money from people? Nobody from the company went to jail for extortion to my knowledge, they were just told by a judge to stop. I'm not going to dig past a summary, you can surely do more if you like.

        The point is that you should never say never, especially with the high level of corruption we are seeing in the USA. It may be implemented just to test the waters, I personally would not be shocked.

      • by jythie (914043)
        That is one of the downsides of having a 'DIY justice' civil suit oriented legal system. At no point in this process is criminal law brought in, at no point is guilt even on the radar. It is purely agreements between companies and the crippling cost of engaging with the legal system. One can not even get a public defender if one can not afford to defend themselves.
      • Re:Unconstitutinal (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday August 18, 2014 @11:16PM (#47700607)

        That only applies to the legal system. Rightscorp is bypassing the legal system and instead getting the ISPs to do the work of law enforcement, and with no analogue to the court system. Basically there are three private parties, Rightscorp, the ISP, and the ISP's customer, and any of the three is legally allowed to presume the other two parties are guilty bastards without proof. Also any of the three are able to sue if they feel unfairly treated if they think some laws are being broken, and they can countersue if anyone sues them, if they'd rather spend that kind of money doing so.

      • Re:Unconstitutinal (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:30AM (#47702323)

        I don't know how it works in other countries, but here in the USofA, there's a little thing known as "the presumption of innocence," meaning that the accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. This does the exact opposite by assuming that anybody who's accused must be guilty and penalizing them without allowing them to present a defense. No judge would ever be stupid enough to rule in favor of Rightscorp, making the idea DOA at best, even if they don't get sued into bankruptcy the first time they try to enforce it.

        You really do not understand how the US legal system works. I'm not an attorney, but my best friend is. He has taught me a lot about how the legal system really works here. I can assure you that it is indeed quite possible to find a judge who would rule in favor of Rightscorp. Anything can happen in a US court - anything. I know of a case involving a business dispute in my city where an appellate court ruled that the court that decided the case made up the law out of thin air. Think about that - a court was found to have made up the law they ruled on. My friend told me he had never heard of that happening before. The Naxos vs. Capitol case,which had devastating results for those of us who hoped that copyrights might actually expire one day, in my opinion also resulted in a ruling where the court that heard the case made up the law they ruled on out of nothing. If the US Supreme Court was to get some kind of hypothetical case where the law technically was very clear and required a certain ruling but actually giving that ruling would destroy the United States, plunge it into civil war and directly lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people, at least 4 members of the current court would shrug their shoulders and give that ruling, acting powerless to do anything else. There were all kinds of crazy decisions made by courts allowing mass mailings of infringement notices some years ago and that was probably as big a violation of due process as is even possible, yet it took years before judges in general began to oppose the practice. And this isn't even getting into the practice of having juries decide complex patent cases. All I can tell you is that if you haven't served on a jury, you really cannot even comprehend how stupid and technically challenged many if not most jury members are.

    • so basicly like malware.
    • Silly rabbit. Property rights and contract laws don't apply in the digital world. Control is 99/100ths of the law.

    • Without a case in court, it is absolutely extortion. This is, in itself, a potentially worse crime than piracy. Wow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And the correct way to handle this is to put Rightscorp staff in jail . And if that is not possible, then kill them at first sight with extreme prejudice.
  • If you download stuff that the rights-holders don't want to sell you, and you end up paying $20, of which $10 goes to the copyright holder, that's pretty damn decent.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So, if I say that I have evidence that you're using water flowing into your house to make drugs, I guess you're absolutely fine with having that water cut off until you can prove that you're not indeed using it to make drugs. If you are making drugs, I guess you're ok with your family going thirsty even though it's not their crime.

    • You mean as opposed to buying something they do want to sell you for $20 and the artist only gets $0.20?
      You've mixed up artist and rights holder.
      In this case you'd pay $20 and the artist gets $0.00

    • by jrumney (197329)
      Are you sure that $10 is going to the actual copyright holder, not the multinational corporation that holds the distribution rights? If it is, then I'm going to have to start pirating content to support the artists. Because that's a much better deal than they're getting under their current contracts.
    • If you download stuff that the rights-holders don't want to sell you, and you end up paying $20, of which $10 goes to the copyright holder, that's pretty damn decent.

      Don't you mean "If RightsCorp claims you downloaded stuff, you end up paying $20"? Because that's all it would take, a claim. If I were RightsCorp and this was in place, I could claim you downloaded my copyrighted material and have your ISP block all of your access. You would then have 3 options:

      1) Cancel your ISPs account and sign up with a

  • As long as... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mad-seumas (59267) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:38PM (#47699463)

    they can be sued out of existence for every mistake they make, I'm cool with it.

    • by Smallpond (221300)

      You can sue for damages. Please provide documentation of monetary damages resulting from being disconnected from the internet.

      • You can sue for damages. Please provide documentation of monetary damages resulting from being disconnected from the internet.

        Actually, I'm contracted with my ISP to provide Internet access. Could Rightscorp be sued for tortuous interference with a business relationship?

        • You can't sue anyone if the ISP is following the law. That would be a clause in the contract.
          All Rightscorp need to do is lobby hard enough.

      • Re:As long as... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:19PM (#47700091)

        I run my own business from home where the internet is critical. I literally have to stop working if it goes offline. Now I have redundant internet connections because of that but if they turned those off it would be very easy for me to prove substantial losses.

  • none of my fingers are going to pay up.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947)

    It's what's for dinner.

    • Can you run a P2P connection through Tor with any efficiency?

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      If the ISP is redirecting every port coming from your IP, it doesn't matter what protocol you use. Instead of getting the "hotel" like page, you get nothing.

      • by mcl630 (1839996)

        I think he's saying use Tor to avoid being caught in the first place. Of course there's nothing stopping Rightscorp from just accusing people at random, since there's absolutely no recourse for the falsely accused but to pay up or lose your Internet connection.

        • I'm sure they wouldn't just accuse people at random. They'd do market research and select targets that meet a profile. Something like middle class households with parents that aren't particularly tech savvy but with teenage kids that might be, all of which use decent amounts of data. All they'd have to do is convince the parents that the kids downloaded something that could illegal or hint to the fathers that it might be the porn their wife doesn't know about. And boom $20 faster than you can blink.

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Depends on how they do this. The cheap way is to just catch HTTP and HTTPS at some router someplace then do some filtering on IP addresses. Problem for the ISP is that now they have to actually THINK about their network design, because it has to work at some point, then redirect at others.

        For me, this would be loads of fun to bypass. About all I'd have to do is change my MAC address and restart the router and presto, I am somebody else. I even managed to run TWO independent connections from time to tim

      • If the ISP is redirecting every port coming from your IP, it doesn't matter what protocol you use. Instead of getting the "hotel" like page, you get nothing.

        If the ISP is redirecting/blocking everything, there will be hell (and a lot of its lawyers) to pay the moment someone with VOIP tries to dial 911 after they were blocked.

        If data of any form can get out of the pipe to a host not controlled by the ISP, then the blocking can be circumvented.

  • nuisance fee (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bored_engineer (951004) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:41PM (#47699489)

    The trouble is, that this is just a nuisance fee. I can pay $20 out-of-pocket to make a bogus "piracy claim" go away. I'm sure, though, that they'll include contractual language asserting my guilt, even though I've never downloaded from The Pirate Bay or its ilk. Once they've confirmed that I'm willing to pay, how many times will they come back? The article mentioned settling accounts exceeding $300 for multiple "infringements."

    Also, how are they going to convince my ISP, with whom I have both an ongoing relationship and competitive alternatives, to do this?

    • "with whom" -->"with which"
    • by Herkum01 (592704)

      They offer a kickback to the ISP for doing a good job, and everyone is happy!

    • Re:nuisance fee (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcl630 (1839996) on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:03PM (#47699655)

      As the article states, it's very rarely only $20... they're charging $20 per song. And yes, they expect you to admit guilt along with the payment.

    • Re:nuisance fee (Score:5, Insightful)

      by russotto (537200) on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:21PM (#47699753) Journal

      Once they've confirmed that I'm willing to pay, how many times will they come back?

      You know the answer to that... once you've paid the Danegeld, you'll never get rid of the Dane.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      They are going tp say they will sue them if they don't take steps to prevent you from pirating their material. That is what they did to get the 3 strikes process started.

      So The ISP has a choice of caving to their demands and getting a kickback or fight a costly battle that they may or may not win.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Worse, unless they agree in writing that the $20 settles the matter in full, they'll then sue you and use your payment as an admission of guilt (true or not).

    • I'd rather pay this "fee" with a bullet in the head of the lawyer making the charging and send him back to their office ... Just the head.
  • CFAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:44PM (#47699507)

    These Rightscorp asshats should be prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and serve multiple-lifetime prison sentences each.

  • SMH (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:45PM (#47699517)

    Cryptolocker malware creators should sue Rightscorp for stealing their idea.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:47PM (#47699531) Journal

    Seems to me that any ISP that redirects browser HTTP requests becomes liable to suit from the customers - for substantially more than $20.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:48PM (#47699549)

    "The Computer Misuse Act (1990) was introduced to help deal with the problems caused by the misuse of computers and communication systems, especially that of âhacking' and âunauthorised access.' The Act introduced three offences; it is illegal for any unauthorised person to access programs or data, the unauthorised modification of that data, and having unauthorised access with further criminal intent."

    Seems clearly within the description of this law.

  • Useful Tip (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:54PM (#47699599)

    A top-notch, full-speed, multi-country VPN service can be had for $40/year, with $20/year deals available if you shop around a bit.

  • It's implied that I've paid their extortion fees I'm free to download as much as I want. Right? Sure it costs a bit more than Netflix but TPB has a better selection anyway...
  • Isn't this just another problem for encrypted darknets to solve?
  • I note in the OP that they are focussed on "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" which is basically means they are only going to bother with cable providers that have localised monopolies where subscribers can't just switch to a new ISP.

    While that may work where cable monopolies exist (i.e. USA) it would fail utterly in markets where xDSL is the more predominant carriage method as most people would just churn from one ISP to the next rather than pay a "fine" and admit guilt, especially if the "fine(s)" add up to more than the cost of changing.

  • I'd really love to see them do this to somebody who takes them to court for it. Rightscorp and the ISP will have to prove the guilty party is the account owner. If they can't, then they still have to prove who the guilty party is, and make them pay. It's called burden of proof [cornell.edu]. This company is simply attempting to circumvent the U.S. legal system because in most cases, they won't be able to prove who was downloading the copyrighted material.

    The problem is rooted in the fact that an IP address is not the

  • suppose you run a vpn from home. they can't easily put a redirect in when its not port 80 (etc) traffic.

    wonder what they plan to do with us vpn guys?

  • Robert Steele is not a god. But maybe someone could prove me wrong?
  • by Nyder (754090) on Monday August 18, 2014 @10:52PM (#47700503) Journal

    You don't want to cut off their web browsing, you want to cut their power. Get the electric companies to cut the power till they pay up. Can't download or watch them infringing files with no power.

    Cut the power!!!!

  • metaphors (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @01:29AM (#47701101) Homepage Journal

    is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp"

    No, it is not. A wheel clamp is attached by police, i.e. the executive branch of the government elected by the people. Like it or hate it, it's part of the democratic system and it is authorized to do this.

    • Just like that speeding ticket. Rightsflop is, at least last time I checked, not part of the executive branch of the legal system. In other words, they have no right whatsoever to demand anything like this.

      Unless someone bought a new law and I missed it...

  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @02:16PM (#47705211)
    Watch as I refuse to pay my internet bill due to my internet no longer working. Why would an ISP agree to such a thing?

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