A new copyright infringement case filed this week looks set to cause a fresh round of controversy. Copyright trolls from Switzerland, who say they are part of a non-profit organization, are about to shake down thousands of alleged pirates who shared the 50 Cent movie All Things Fall Apart. However, in addition to the usual subscribers of ISPs such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, the trolls are trying to obtain the identities of individuals located at universities around the United States.
Earlier this week and following the filing of dozens of file-sharing infringement lawsuits in the United States, hope came to a court room in Los Angeles as the trolls of Prenda Law finally began to receive their comeuppance.
After their no-show Monday they will all have to appear in court on March 29 to face the music, but in the meantime the U.S. copyright troll epidemic continues, this time in California.
In a fresh lawsuit filed by attorney Boden Davidson on behalf of his client Contra Piracy, it is claimed that thousands of individuals downloaded and shared the 50 Cent movie All Things Fall Apart. The anti-piracy outfit said it obtained the “enforcement rights” from Los Angeles-based Hannibal Pictures.
Contra Piracy claim to have monitored 2,919 individuals infringing All Things Fall Apart on more than 280,000 occasions. They say they cannot identify these people without the help of ISPs, so they are seeking the court’s help in this respect.
Adding interest to the case is that Contra Piracy are based in Switzerland. They say they are a non-profit group that brings together ‘independent members’ such as technology companies, law firms and copyright owners in order to reduce piracy.
Of course, a lack of profit isn’t usually a feature of copyright trolling. In this case Contra want an absolute minimum of $5,000 from each target in the hope they will reclaim at least $7,500,000. That is $500,000 more than the movie cost to make.
To collect its evidence Contra Piracy used anti-piracy monitoring company Logistep, a company that became infamous in the UK for its connections to troll pioneer law firm Davenport Lyons. Logistep was later banned from monitoring alleged pirates in its home country.
Contra Piracy / Logistep have provided the court with a huge list of IP addresses allegedly used to share the movie and it’s quite the who’s-who of United States ISPs. America Online, AT&T, BellSouth, Verizon, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Road Runner, Qwest, T-Mobile, Sprint – they’re all here. In fact, Contra want disclosure from a claimed 61 ISPs, which may well be a record in this type of case.
However, in addition to targeting thousands of regular domestic subscribers, Contra Piracy is revisiting the ‘bad old days’ of RIAA lawsuits by targeting educational establishments too.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, private Roman Catholic arts college The College of Saint Elizabeth, the Francis Marion arts university, University of West Florida, Lamar University, Wilberforce University and Montclair State University are all listed.
Secured Servers LLC web hosting company also makes an appearance, which could possibly be down to a customer running a seedbox. The Ingersoll Rand company can also expect a call.
How the universities involved will respond to Contra Piracy remains to be seen, but they may have to be compliant in order to show that they are worthy of federal funding.
Finally, we ran a few checks on Contra Piracy and found a couple of interesting things with their domain owner “Thomas Zeeck”. Not only does he own the Contrapiracy.com domain, he also owns domains which trade on the names of the German and Swiss pirate parties – Piraten-Partei-Deutschland.com and Piratenpartei-Schweiz.org