Dec 14, 2013

More than Porn: Cease and Desist Scandal in Europe

It happened a lot this week in Europe. Many viewers of movies from Redtube found a not so nice mail in their snailmail-box. A lawyer firm sends out mass cease and desist letters, and insist to pay quite some money, for streaming copyright material over this streaming portal.
Now wait a minute, you say. Streaming? How can this be illegal? Mind that porn movies are not illegal for the kind of movies in most EU countries. It's only about the copyright. Now Europe has a problem.

The whole process was wrong from the beginning. First the judges that gave their okay to allow this firm to get name and addresses from the visitors via the IP-address. It never should have been allowed. Many Lawyers say that streaming, and not downloading to keep, is not illegal. In fact, to be illegal, in Germany e.g. it needs to be from an obviously illegal source. This is not the case. So they never should have get the name. What was that about privacy?
Then there is the method of this firm to get the IP. It's strongly discussed at Heise.de. In an article they claim that the law firm got the IP with illegal methods. The company sits outside the EU. So you have to sue them in Switzerland. Almost all lawyers being interviewed said that you should not apply to this cease & desist letter. You're chances seem to be good to win a trial.

And what does that mean in general?
This is a very dangerous situation. If this methods are becoming the standard, we all will be flooded with c&d orders. No matter what you watch. Do you know how many illegal material is on YouTube? It's a lot. Illegal in this or that country. If simple streaming is illegal, or even if c&d lawyers have the slightest chance to win a trial, you can never ever watch something online again, until you have the permission from the author or rights-holder. This is insane. it would be the end of videos on the net. Anyone could sue you anytime.

So the courts missed to make their homework.This is the true scandal. If streaming goes illegal, it could affect videos internationally. And the politicians need to intervene here quickly. It's not about porn. It's about users of the Internet have no safety against this kind of cease and desist-lawyers or criminal blackmailing.
This problem even goes beyond the Internet. This is a new example of why a first cease & desist letter must be free. No money should be paid. Otherwise some lawyers always make things up and bet on the fear of people , quickly paying just to get in no trouble. with the first letter "free", they can still keep their clients copyright interests, but will think twice if it is really a matter. And maybe, if you get a cease&desist without a real substance, a fine should be put against the law firm. Mass sending those letters does shows the real intention. This must stop.


Btw. Redtube itself is fighting against the "blackmailing", so they say, of German viewers from this law firm. This is a little light. But nobody knows what that exactly mean. Both the law and the politics however, have to be clear about this, for the future of the Internet.

More Info on how you can react if you are a victim of such firms can be found and irights.info. Especially for this case with Redtube, you can found help in a dedicated article.