Remember Rightscorp? This is the wannabe "friendlier" copyright troll, that sends smaller bills than the traditional copyright trolls. Over the years, it's actually struggled to make any money... and has struggled with some of its more bizarre legal theories. Unfortunately, in late 2015, one of Rightscorp's partners got a big ruling against Cox, arguing that Cox violated the DMCA by not properly terminating repeat infringers (as we noted at the time, this was based on a tortured interpretation of the law. The case is still winding its way through the appeals process, but Rightscorp and its partners have continued to push forward, using the ruling in that BMG v. Cox case to pressure others. At least one other ISP has already been sued.
And, now, the company is out claiming that it's talking with "top ISPs" to get them to incorporate Rightscorp's copyright trolling efforts directly into their own infringement mitigation procedures:
“An ISP Good Corporate Citizenship Program is what we feel will drive revenue associated with our primary revenue model. This program is an attempt to garner the attention and ultimately inspire a behavior shift in any ISP that elects to embrace our suggestions to be DMCA-compliant,” the company told shareholders yesterday.
“In this program, we ask for the ISPs to forward our notices referencing the infringement and the settlement offer. We ask that ISPs take action against repeat infringers through suspensions or a redirect screen. A redirect screen will guide the infringer to our payment screen while limiting all but essential internet access.”
In other words, Rightscorp's demand and payment processes would get included directly into how the ISP notifies a user that someone has discovered the possibility of infringing activity on the account. Of course, issuing a press release saying that they're "now beginning to have some initial and very thorough discussions with a handful of the top ISPs" is... weird. You do your press releases after you come to a deal, not as you're beginning a conversation with companies who almost certainly don't want to work with you. The reality here is likely that this press release is just an attempt to signal to ISPs to be more receptive. I highly doubt it will work on most large ISPs who are slightly more sophisticated than to be duped by something as silly as this.
However, the threat of the BMG case being seen as good law is still a huge problem for those ISPs and hopefully the case will get dumped, and we can all go back to watching Rightscorp fail to make any money from its plans. Remember, in the BMG case, it came out that Rightscorp had a phone script that told people it accused of infringing that if they wanted to prove they were "innocent" they had to hand their computers over to the local police department so they could perform a search. Really. Does anyone think that a company with that sort of ethical compass should be the official partner of any ISP?
On top of that, as TorrentFreak points out in its article, for all the talk of how Rightscorp is a "friendlier" copyright troll in that it only demands $20 to $30 when it finds an infringement, that's misleading. Because, like responding to spam leading to more spam, paying Rightscorp can lead to many more demands:
In the wake of several similar reports, this week a Reddit user reported that Rightscorp asked him to pay a single $20 fine for pirating a song. After paying up, the next day the company allegedly called the user back and demanded payment for a further 200 notices.