Stories by Kevin Lin at Techdirt.

from go fishing department

It’s no secret that copyright trolls have plagued many countries for some time now. The typical copyright troll method is quite simple. You buy or acquire the rights to certain media, you monitor the illicit appearance of any of these media on the Internet, then you attempt to legalize the IP addresses of ISPs or web hosts, then threaten those who use these IP addresses with a trial if they do not pay a “settlement fee”. This system is problematic for a number of reasons: it’s not how copyright laws were supposed to work, IP addresses aren’t people representing culprits, there’s been a ton of fakes positive, etc. etc etc

But one of the theories or questions that sometimes comes up is: how do we know that the rightsholders themselves aren’t uploading the content themselves on a fishing expedition at settlement expense? Well, a lawyer in Taiwan is accused by authorities of doing just that.

Taiwan prosecutors have indicted five men for running an operation to download movies from the Internet and then extort cash settlements from BitTorrent users who downloaded them. One of the men is former ultramarathon runner Kevin Lin, who founded a copyright consultancy after graduating from law school in 2020.

According to reports, Lin’s company tricked users into downloading the torrents, tracked their IP addresses, and then sued for copyright infringement in a bid to profit from cash settlements. Lin said that because of his support for the opposition government and his criticism of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the investigation against him is politically motivated.

If true, the scheme covered 18 movie titles. Not content to wait for the movies Actually being hacked, Lin is accused of uploading the films. If so, of course it is not piracy. The rights holder appears to have released these films on torrent sites. Anyone downloading them would simply be taking what the rights holder has freely given away, and therefore licensed.

As with many of these criminal schemes, it appears that Lin and his company were discovered because they were simply too greedy and the scheme worked too big.

Prosecutors are demanding heavy sentences for Lin and a lawyer identified by the surname Cheng, who played a key role in shaping the litigation strategy. The company’s lawsuits have overwhelmed the intellectual property police force, other police departments and prosecutors’ offices, authorities said.

Is this the first time in the world that this has happened? Obviously not. Nor does it excuse copyright infringement in general.

But what it certainly does is demonstrate how current copyright enforcement mechanisms around the world are open to abuse.

Filed Under: copyright, trolling copyright, honeypots, kevin lin, taiwan

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