After reaching more than 3.6 million targeted individuals in Germany, in excess of 200,000 in the United States and having planted the seeds of further extortion-like activities in Canada, Australia is the next target for the file-sharing settlement lawyers. According to a report from one of the country’s leading ISPs, thousands of Australians will soon be receiving pay-up-or-else letters for allegedly sharing movies using BitTorrent.
By now it’s a well-trodden path. Partner up some law firm with a film, music or game studio who aren’t bothered by negative publicity. Hash together a piece of software, throw it into a BitTorrent swarm, harvest some IP addresses and obtain the real identities of the individuals behind them from their ISPs.
From there threaten legal action, but offer to settle for less money than it would cost to defend. Profit.
And now this controversial plague has spread to Australia.
According to John Linton, chief of ISP Exetel, his company has been approached by US film distributor Lightning Entertainment who were brandishing a list of some 150 IP addresses from where their movie “Kill The Irishman” is said to have been shared. This is reportedly just part of the 9,000 Australian-based infringements the company is said to be pursuing.
As is normal for studios working in this area, Lightning have commissioned a front company to carry out the controversial business of extorting money from alleged infringers. According to Renai LeNay of Delimiter who contacted TorrentFreak this morning, that outfit is called ‘Movie Rights Group’.
In common with other so-called rights groups in this area, Movie Rights Group (MRG) aren’t forthcoming about who they are and their domain WHOIS has been anonymized. However, LeNay did manage to track down their vice president of sales and marketing Gordon Walker who appears to have been very open about the company’s motives.
“Everybody knows that the Internet is the ultimate unkillable beast,” he told LeNay.
Going on to describe Movie Rights Group as “a commercial solution” to what had previously been seen as a legislative problem, Walker adds that on a chaotic information superhighway “You’ve got to have policemen and women in cars” dealing with infringement.
MRG, it seems, will be handing out the speeding tickets via their friends at Lloyds Solicitors law firm. Question is, will Australians roll over and pay their fines, or stand strong and call their bluff? Time will tell.