The Sword of Justice has just published an article titled ‘Terence Tsang undercutting his friends?” which asks some interesting questions about the operations of Davenport Lyons, ACS Law, and Tilly Bailey & Irvine. All three firms have sent ‘infringement letters’ to people that they claim have downloaded copies of movies and games. While Sword’s questions about the ties between the three firms are interesting, the point that really strikes me comes from Torrentfreak, apparently the monitoring software that the firms used cost them under $750.00!
OK, so we are in a down economy, and software engineers like everyone else are having a hard time finding work. But only $750.00? Assuming a charge rate of $100.00 per hour, that’s only one day’s worth of work. Now admittedly it appears that what they did was modify an existing bit torrent client, so a lot of the coding was already done. But on a lot of projects that I’ve been involved with, even the simplest ones, the planning stage takes a lot longer than that.
So would you trust something that was hacked together in that short of a time to give you reliable data?
I wouldn’t. No lawyer would either if he was planning on taking the information to court. It just wouldn’t stand up. This indicates that entire scheme has more to do with blackmail than with enforcement of copyright. The U.S. Copyright Group has admitted that to the Hollywood Reporter. Torrentfreak had additional comments:
We’re creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel,” says Jeffrey Weaver, a lawyer for U.S. Copyright Group.
So what proportion of the revenue stream goes to the rightsholders? In common with similar schemes in Europe, it’s relatively small. TorrentFreak discovered that the majority of a settlement payment – a huge 70% – goes to the U.S Copyright Group and its anti-piracy partners. The remaining 30% goes to the rightsholders.
The numbers involved in these schemes are huge. An admission from group lawyer Thomas Dunlap revealed that the program in Germany handled one particular limited-release movie and netted the copyright holder $800,000.
It is in this open admission of a financial motivation that recipients of these letters will find the key to combating the threats. All they have to remember is that these schemes are simply about generating profit – anything that can be done to reduce or remove the profit element has usually resulted in the lawyers backing off. No profit, no interest.
Right. Creating a revenue stream. Consider that in the past that laser printers have been accused of infringement, I have doubts about this scheme. It appears that the lawyers involved have doubts about it too, Tilly Bailey & Irvine were caught vandalizing their Wikipedia page. If you want to see the edit click here.
Monday April 5, 2010