How Anti-Piracy Trolls Tried and Failed to Ruin Christmas

Opinion

Copyright trolls do not care about people. Copyright trolls do not care about family life. Copyright trolls do not care if they ruin someone's reputation. What copyright trolls care about is money, as much money as they can get their greedy hands on. Nevertheless, some people have been standing up to them and today they will enjoy the fruits of their patience, sharing Christmas day with family and spending their money on those who matter.

xmastrollFor the last couple of years TorrentFreak has run semi-regular articles on the efforts of GoldenEye International, an adult movie outfit affiliated with the Ben Dover porn brand and one that realized there’s money to be made from the bullying game.

Just like most other trolls their business model is simple. Send threatening letters to ISP account holders telling them that they have been caught watching some pretty embarrassingly titled movies and inform them that paying a cash settlement is the only way to remedy the situation.

TorrentFreak invited people targeted by the company to contact us and over the past year we’ve had a steady stream of terribly worried individuals email us with requests for information. The more of these emails you read, the more you appreciate the scale of the heartbreak for all of those involved.

At this point we should be clear – some people we spoke with clearly knew more than they were prepared to admit and some probably did download some content without permission. However, many others obviously did not and when you come across these cases you can see that companies like GoldenEye really do not give a damn about who they hurt, and they will brush off collateral damage like it doesn’t exist.

If GoldenEye only took the time to speak to the people that we have, they might see what their threats are doing. One retired lady we spoke with said she had no idea what she was going to do. Threatening court action, GoldenEye had demanded around £500 for a movie she is extremely unlikely to have been interested in. The only money she had in the world was around £1,500 in savings and now this company wanted a third of that.

One young man told us that his parents had gone crazy when his father, as the bill payer, had been accused of downloading porn. Trying to protect himself against the wrath of his wife, the finger of blame naturally got pointed by the father at his son who in turn contacted us, desperate for a solution to clear his name. Another told us how his mother could no longer cope after receiving a third letter asking for money despite her innocence.

In cases like these where we believe that people have been wrongly accused we are more than happy to help. Throughout the year we corresponded with a couple of dozen individuals, half a dozen or so on a regular basis, in order to keep pace with their cases.

And guess what?

Of those who stuck in their heels, stood by their principles and refused to pay, GoldenEye stopped threatening 100% of them. After the initial three or four letters bounced back and forth, the company backed off, a characteristic of most bullies when they realize their intended victim is refusing to become one.

As a result, today these people are able to enjoy Christmas with their families. Rather than finding themselves £500 in the hole in order to finance GoldenEye’s Christmas party or Ben Dover’s festive lunch, that money is being spent were it should be.

“The final letter GoldenEye sent said that they were going to review my case and then make a decision on whether they were going to proceed or not. At that point I started to understand what was going on finally,” says ‘John’, a recipient of a £500 threat letter.

“GoldenEye are a company who just send letters to people to try and threaten and bully them into paying money, but do not take it any further. It was just like a game of poker to me as they were bluffing all the time so I played the game and won as I didn’t back down to their demands.”

“I am relieved I don’t have to pay any money to them as I don’t have that kind of money to give away. I can get on with my own life now without the extra worry of dealing with these legal scam artists,” he continues. “I am not letting people like this get what they want from me. They have to fight me in court if they want their money.”

Sure, it’s likely that GoldenEye have managed to get payments from a lot of people this year, but their complete lack of compassion has been hit head on by those who refused to give in. And for those people, Christmas this year will be all the more special.

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