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$10 Music Piracy Fine - The Answer To The Piracy Problem?

Posted by: , 13:49 AEST, Mon September 26, 2011

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New anti-piracy firm only asks $10 to settle copyright disputes, but that may be $10 too much given what the firm can actually do if you don't pay up

A new anti-piracy company is trying a new trick, by asking for only $10 instead of the usual $2,000 to $3,000 settlement fee. Californian based Digital Rights Corp (DRC) gets ISPs to forward emails to alleged pirates, whose IP address has been identified as being used to download pirated music, and users only have to pay $10 to make the matter go away.

But there's a reason why DRC only asks for $10 - they don't know who you are.

Normal settlement offers work when the anti-piracy law firm subpoenas ISPs to get subscriber contact details, which then allows them to send a letter requesting the settlement fee, usually in the thousands. This entire process requires a lot of legal paper work, and so there is an element of cost involved - certainly higher than $10.

What DRC does is that instead of finding out who owned the account that the IP address is attached to, they simply forward a DMCA notice to the ISP, and the ISP does the identification work without informing DRC, with the email being sent to the subscriber. Up until this point, DRC still doesn't who the infringer is (or more precisely, who owns the infringing account), but the email contains a link that allows the user to pay the $10, and it's only after this payment that DRC actually finds out who did what.

Given these facts, it's surprising to find that DRC issues the same dire warnings as the other settlement lawsuit firms, with the possibility of $150,000 fines, and ISP disconnections, neither of which is going to happen unless DRC actually subpoenas ISPs and get user details, and even then, ISP disconnection is unlikely as DRC does not appear to be part of the rightsholder/ISP 'graduated response' deal, and this assumes your ISP is even one of the participating ISPs.

And perhaps even more misleading, as some research conducted by TorrentFreak found out, is DRC's FAQ page which says that if users pay the $10 fee, ISPs that have cut off the user's service will restore the service, something that's just not likely to be the case (either the disconnection, or the reconnection).

So how will the young, tech-savvy, be fooled by all of this? The answer is they won't, because, as TorrentFreak also points out, if you look at DRC's client list, the list of artists they represent, the youngest of which was born in 1946, with most of them having already died! By targeting the likely audience of these older/deceased musicians, DRC may have also found the right audience to be easily led to believe the claims being made, without the technical background to work out how easy it is to not pay the $10.


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