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$10 Music Piracy Fine: Fair or Extortion?

LawsuitThe music industry is sending out notices to suspected copyright infringers asking for money. And while this might sound like “business as usual”, a new report has confirmed they are indeed mixing things up a bit. Instead of demanding $3,000 or more per infraction, file-sharing monitoring firm Digital Rights Corp has confirmed they are taking the shotgun approach to finding the guilty, asking for a mere $10 a pop.

Instead of the more expensive process of soliciting ISP’s for information and then going through the courts, DRC has discovered a way to automate the process, and handle these claims in bulk. When they discover an IP address suspected of infringement, they will send out a DMCA takedown notice to the ISP, which will pass it along to the subscriber’s email address on file. The email contains a link to the DRC website, where most likely, they will offer to settle your claim for a mere $10. Conveniently enough, you are offered the option to pay the fine using any major credit card.

The strangest twist in all of this is that DRC has no idea who the actual infringement claim is being sent to, and doesn’t actually have any information on file until you settle the claim. Even if you believe in the DMCA, copyright, and all the social justice Digital Rights claims to stand for, sending a settlement note out blindly like this doesn’t feel like justice.

In addition to threatening to shut down your Internet service if you don’t pay the $10 fine, the email also warns you that you could be liable for up to $150,000 in damages. What if you didn’t commit the offense you ask? Well according to the company’s FAQ, and I quote:

“I have never downloaded any music or movies from the Internet, why did I get this notice?

A computer using the IP Address”

Not sure what they are going for here, but it doesn’t look like they have an option for “not guilty”.


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09-25-2011, 04:18 PM
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