The Open Rights Group recently launched a fund-raising appeal to mount a legal challenge against a copyright troll aiming to target thousands with demands for cash settlement. Now the troll in question has responded to this call for public funding by asking like-minded troll supporters to fund a fight back. But with ‘hacktivists’ already waiting in the wings, is it really worth getting involved?
As reported last week, the Open Rights Group has launched an appeal in the hope of achieving a legal ruling that would stop an avalanche of so-called copyright troll lawsuits in the UK.
ORG have applied to intervene in an appeal mounted by Golden Eye International, a company linked to the Ben Dover porn brand and one that’s intent on re-introducing the so-called “pay-up-or-else” model back into the UK.
In summary, Golden Eye were told by the High Court that they could chase down alleged infringers of their own content but were not allowed to start representing other rightsholders who want to do the same – they would have to do their own work and incur their own costs.
And this is what this is about – money. If Golden Eye only have to go to court once in order to obtain court orders in respect of infringements of their own content and that of other companies, there is much more cash to go round. It’s worth noting that Golden Eye are keeping 75% of each settlement so that pie needs to be as big as possible.
ORG asked for £5,000 in donations to fight Golden Eye but not wishing to be outdone (or beaten in court), Golden Eye are now asking for contributions too.
“The perception of pornographers outside the industry may well be filthy rich; however as anyone with an ability for rational thinking will appreciate any business who’s [sic] core product has been decimated by piracy is experiencing a massive downturn in turnover and profitability,” Golden Eye chief Julian Becker informs Xbiz.
“[Open Rights Group] are appealing for funding for their court costs, which having checked our bank balance recently has given me the idea to do the same.”
Becker quite rightly makes the point that the case has huge implications and of course that has already been recognized, first by Consumer Focus who have brilliantly handled intervention so far, and now by ORG who have recently taken over.
But while ORG want to ensure, as a judge put in an earlier hearing, that “the intended Defendants’ privacy and data protection rights” don’t get sold “to the highest bidder”, Golden Eye want allies to turn their scheme into a significant money making venture.
“Therefore any financial support, however small, that can be given will help the cause massively. If you can’t give then supportive messages also are appreciated if not lost in the deluge of personal abuse and threats from the faceless keyboard warriors,” Becker concludes.
And those “warriors” do exist. In the United States copyright-trolls do have opponents, no doubt about that, but for some reason in the UK their actions are taken a whole lot more personally and tend to provoke more direct action.
TorrentFreak is aware that a hard core of opponents are researching everything about Julian Becker and his associates, from where they live, their connected business ventures and other private issues including, as one person showed us last week, that Becker currently has a Ferrari up for sale. Every element of their on-and-offline lives are under scrutiny, ready to be exploited whenever Golden Eye launch their campaign. More aggressive but unrelated campaigners have indicated that DDoS and hacking attacks are also on the agenda.
This kind of action is not new. ACS:Law were punished relentlessly by anti-troll groups and activists such as Anonymous, and it could conceivably happen again with Golden Eye.
However, although in some cases it has proven very effective, taking direction ‘hacktivist’ action is not without its risks. This week a court in the UK has been hearing a case against an alleged Anonymous ring-leader who participated in “Operation Payback” attacks against not only PayPal but the IFPI and BPI.
Student Christopher Weatherhead, 22, also allegedly launched attacks against Ministry of Sound and their lawfirm Gallant Macmillan after the companies tried to extract cash payments from alleged file-sharers.
A month later Ministry of Sound abandoned their file-sharing settlement project but clearly the events that led to that decision will have consequences for those involved.