The MPAA and their fellow anti-piracy organizations send out thousands of infringement notices. Only a fraction of these are played out in court, and those that do make it into court are settled at an early stage. So why not circumvent the whole legal system, and gently coerce people to pay for “amnesty”?
This is exactly what the suits at the MPAA must have thought, because they asked Nexicon to develop a program to convert infringement notices into cash.
The GetAmnesty program is a combination of both enforcement activities and efforts to turn infringers into paying “customers”. It tracks down copyright infringers by using a wide variety of methods. But, instead of sending out the regular infringement notices, they now include links for people to get amnesty. Basically they are asking to pay them an X amount of money, and they promise drop everything and go away.
Here’s what you read on the website, and allegedly in the infringement notices:
If you receive a notice that means that we have evidence of you infringing a copyright holder that we represent. Please stop and consider what such a paper trail could do to one’s future. We understand that this notice may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but we sincerely believe that signing our agreement is in your best interest.
I’m not sure how we’re supposed to call this.. extortion? Intimidation? They are clearly trying to scare people into giving their money to the copyright holders without clear evidence.
They might have an IP address, but this doesn’t mean anything. The MPAA, or any other anti-piracy organization can’t sue someone simply because he or she pays the bills for the internet connection. Several cases (example 1/2) were dropped already because of this argument. An IP address is not a person.
Andrew Norton, a spokesperson of the US Pirate Party, said in a response to TorrentFreak: “These efforts to continually alienate their consumers will not do major rights holding groups any favors. Programs such as this are thinly veiled extortion efforts, and represent further efforts by media cartels to shore up their crumbling business models by intimidation, and violation of users rights.”
Norton continues: “It is impossible for any program to determine if something is infringing copyright, or if it comes under fair use. With the recent probes into the john-doe lawsuits and their usage, it is clear that this is a pathetic new method to try and shore up the outdated perceptions of the rights holders, rather than trying to adapt and change to suit the times. It is no longer the 1940s, and unlike FM, media conglomerates cannot wish or bury the internet, and modern technology.”
The MPAA and other content owners will use these methods because it’s an easy way for them to make money, and they save quite a bit on legal costs too. In fact, the RIAA already uses a website called P2Plawsuits where people can settle their cases online. I seriously question the legality of these extortion tactics.
GetAmnesty.com was launched a few days ago. If people receive infringement letters with links to this site, please contact us. In the meanwhile you might want to take a look at what SiteAdvisor says about GetAmnesty… Phishing or other scams … and that’s exactly what it is.
Update: The MPAA oficially denies having anything to do with GetAmnesty.