Princeton Prof Reports Bogus Infringement Notices

Last year, computer scientists at the University of Washington who were studying peer-to-peer networks reported that they received more than 400 bogus takedown notices in two months.

Their paper, subtitled "Why My Printer Received a DMCA Takedown Notice," concluded that nearly all Web users risk receiving notices alleging copyright infringement for reasons ranging from "buggy software" to deliberate efforts to frame innocent users.

Now, Mike Freedman, an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton, reports that a research system he runs, CoralCDN, recently received around 100 letters alleging copyright infringement.

Freedman says that the infringement allegations were "demonstrably false," because the IP addresses referenced in the letters weren't running BitTorrent clients.

What's worse, the letters, sent by a group called the Video Protection Alliance (which represents adult entertainment companies), didn't simply request that the infringement cease, but also demanded that the guilty parties pay a "pre-settlement" fee or face litigation.

The notices only identified alleged infringers by their IP address, but didn't include any names. But the notices instructed recipients to visit a particular site where they could learn the exact amount of their supposed pre-settlement assessment -- and, presumably, provide identifying information. Freedman says he didn't log in, so doesn't know how much the group intended to charge.

David Kurzman, an agent with the Video Protection Alliance, says that the company typically seeks $10 to $40 to pre-settle cases without involving lawyers. Once the organization hires a lawyer to subpoena the name of users, the price of pre-settlement increases to $500.

Kurtman also says the group hasn't yet filed any lawsuits, but plans to in the near future. "We just had a lawyer send out a bunch of letters and whoever doesn't respond to those letters is going to get sued," he tells MediaPost.

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1 comment about "Princeton Prof Reports Bogus Infringement Notices".
  1. Mark Schmidt from None , December 2, 2009 at 5:05 p.m.

    Its worth pointing out that Video Protection Alliance uses an anti-piracy company called Nexicon http://www.nexiconinc.com to collect data. Some recent articles from Torrentfreak:

    - http://torrentfreak.com/automated-legal-threats-turn-piracy-into-profit-090628/

    - http://torrentfreak.com/tag/video-protection-alliance/

    Looks like the founder/cto is this Tommy Stiansen guy:

    - http://ww.nexiconinc.com/corpblog