Suing Fans Is Back! But Now, the Fine Is $10

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Is this fair, or just another fraudulent crackdown on fans?

Enter LA-based Digital Rights Corp., a company that has been sending letters en masse to thousands (and maybe hundreds of thousands) of suspected infringers, while demanding $10 per infraction.  The payments are finalized online, and a legal release is automatically generated.

So far, it looks no one has been hauled into court. Instead, the company’s business model involves signing up content owners (ie, labels, publishers, studios, whatever), monitoring platforms like BitTorrent, and blitzing thousands of letters.  Oh, and they also shut down internet accounts, according to the firm’s site.  And, these emails are sent automatically, with the cooperation of ISPs that resolve IP addresses to actual email accounts.

The activity was first discovered by paidContent.

We’ve heard that a few music companies are signed up, but identities are not being disclosed (though of course, please feel free to share in comments or by dropping a note to news@).

The fine is designed to be more reasonable, easily paid (online). And despite the overhang of legal threats, supposedly court-free.

That’s a big change from the RIAA, which insists on ransom-size fines and expensive court battles (for example, the trade group is still fighting to stick Joel Tenenbaum with a $675,000 penalty for uploading 30 songs, a case that started in 2003.)

The question is whether any of this is legal, and across the pond, UK-based ACS Law was excoriated for a similar approach.  Back in LA, some familiar problems are cropping up – including misdirected letters, multiple letters, and issues with shared WiFi accounts.