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Canada Piracy Entertainment

86-Year Old Grandma Accused of Pirating a Zombie Game (torrentfreak.com) 122

An 86-year-old woman named Christine McMillan from Ontario, Canada has been accused of downloading a zombie game she's never heard of. She faces $5,000 in potential damages. From a report on TorrentFreak (condensed): McMillan is one of the hundreds of thousands of people who've been accused of copyright infringement under Canada's "notice and notice" regime. Due to a change to Canada's copyright law early last year, ISPs are now required to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers. In the letter received from anti-piracy group Canipre, she's threatened with thousands of dollars in damages, if she doesn't comply. "They didn't tell me how much I owed, they only told me that if I didn't comply, I would be liable for a fine of up to $5,000 and I could pay immediately by entering my credit card number," McMillan told Go Public. At first, McMillan thought she was dealing with spammers but Cogeco, her Internet provider, confirmed that the email with the settlement offer was legitimate. The power of the settlement scheme lies in the uncertainty people face. McMillan is obviously not happy with the notice-and-notice legislation which she brands as "foolish."
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86-Year Old Grandma Accused of Pirating a Zombie Game

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    BURN HER!

    • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:45PM (#53186875) Journal

      She responded, "I'm not a witch, I'm your wife!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        That implies they are mutually exclusive. I'd even argue there's a correlation.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          On Slashdot? That would imply there are no witches. QED.

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        She responded, "I'm not a witch, I'm your wife!"

        And the difference is?

    • by LinuxIsGarbage ( 1658307 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @04:04PM (#53187029)

      For those not familiar with the "notice and notice" scheme, the ISP is required to forward the notice to the subscriber, but does not identify the subscriber to the copyright holder without a court order.

      So these notices can be safely discarded, as it's not worth the Copyright holder's time to pursue a court order for a relatively low maximum cap ($5,000). This low cap also prevents the absurd cases seen in the states where grandmas are taken to court for $2,000,000 for a couple Lady Gaga tracks. These notices "seem to be effective" in reducing piracy, so for now it prevents more draconian measures.

      However the copyright holders try to trick subscribers with threatening language in the notice to voluntarily identify themselves, and give them money.

      • Shakedown (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @04:21PM (#53187159)

        shakedown
        noun
        shakedown \shk-daun\

        : the act of taking something (such as money) from someone by using threats or deception

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Some media execs were seen pursing her while mumbling: Gains! Gains! Gains!

      • My ISP practically comes out and says here is a copyright notice we are required to send you, you can safely ignore it. Not in those exact words of course, but close enough.

        If somebody wants her to enter a credit card number, she obviously followed a link in the email. There was no reason for her to do that.

        Despite these letters coming from your ISP, you really have to treat them as a phishing scam. That is effectively what they are.

      • If the copyright holders decide to take you to court, they have to apply to the courts, with proof that the "subscriber" infringed on their copyright, for any subscriber information.

        Also, IF they take you to court, and IF they win, you cannot be sued for any other copyright violations that occurred before the one you got sued for.

        Also, if I recall correctly, here in Canada, which ever side looses the case, may have to pays the legal fees for both sides, depending on the judgement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:44PM (#53186865)

    But, she was dealing with scammers

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am impressed an 86 year old grandmother had the general tech-awareness to imagine that as a possibility. Older folks were brought up in a time of much more trust, long before the internet was a thing, and it is very often beyond their imagining that there could be so many people intent on defrauding their fellow humans (That is not an indictment of them, it's an indictment of modern society).

      • by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @05:14PM (#53187623)
        I wonder which grand child was using her computer?
      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        It's not "an indictment of modern society", it's and indictment of human nature and the way it responds to easy communication. When communication is difficult, and costs a whole nickel (6 cents airmail) then cons like this are relatively few. When it's cheap they rise. When long distance calls cost a bit, I never got spam calls, now I get 5 or 6 per day, even though we've never bought anything from any of them.

        There are bad things about modern society, and about past society, and they aren't all the same

      • perhaps it is different over their, my grandparents lived through WW2 in Latvia before living in Germany and Italy and finally Australia. They were two of the nicest people you could ever meet and would help anyone in need but they taught me their is no such thing a as free lunch and if something sounds too good to be true it really is. Scams, con artists and greedy companies are nothing new, they have simply evolved to modern technology, this myth that somehow the good ole days were safer is exactly that.
        • It used to be that people walked door to door with scams in the olden days. They were called door to door salesmen.

      • No - the increase in trust is a symptom of aging [nih.gov]. Longer ago, there were snake oil salesmen and no FDA. There have always been scammers around.

      • I am impressed an 86 year old grandmother had the general tech-awareness to imagine that as a possibility. ...

        To quote a very old phrase: "Don't try to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs!"

        Most -people- are not very good at computers, or security, even if they carry smartphones...

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:46PM (#53186889) Homepage
    The woman question --and this event-- are simply misunderstood by the public at this point. The purpose of copyright law and pre-emptive, out-of-court, undocumented and largely unaccounted settlements is to punish the very prevalent threat of geriatrics who pirate legitimate software from hard working wholesome developers. The unexpected quirk here is that this woman has accidentally disclosed what is largely understood to be nothing short of a protection payment.
    • Don't worry, now that CETA has been signed, Canadian businesses will soon be able to deal with that same threat across Europe as well!

      • ...and if they dare make it illegal (and we've guaranteed them that they retain the sovereignty to do so to put sand in the eyes of their electorates) we can still pull them by their hairs in front of the ICS (a/k/a ISDS lite) and sue them for... One Million Dollars! Bwhahahahahahahaaa!
  • just wait for them to run up the legal bill 5K may be cheap vs the cost to defend her self. Even if they what they have is very weak proof the cost to prove that in court is high.

    • In almost every case, these letters are pure bluff. Best ignored.

    • by johnnys ( 592333 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @06:08PM (#53187973)

      You're missing a very important point: Under CANADIAN law, the maximum fine for all of these downloading offenses combined is 5000$, provided she's not downloading these files for commercial infringement. She CANNOT be forced by a court to pay more than 5000$ for all the allegations no matter what happens in court!

      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      "A copyright holder can instead elect to protect his/her copyright under section 38.1, which allows for "a sum of not less than $100 or more than $5,000 as the court considers just." for all non-commercial infringement, and $500 up to $20,000 for each commercial infringement.[30]"

      This is an excellent law: It protects real Canadians from the flood of toxic lawsuits the USA citizens are suffering.

      Canada had to put it in to keep the USA from implementing punitive trade barriers, but in the USA they never put a cap on it so people can get screwed over big time by huge lawsuit judgements. In Canada the 5000$ cap means that no copyright owner will ever go to court to attack a person with no commercial infringement since the 5000$ won't even cover the lawyer costs to file the suit. So these nastygrams can be safely ignored.

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        I think better than a a specific monetary cap is how it is in the UK. The cap is *ACTUAL* losses for none commercial infringement. Generally this is going to be way lower than $5000. So downloading an album won't even attract the cover price in damages. It would have to be something like wholesale price minus manufacturing costs, something close to the profit plus royalties. It's why, despite it being illegal in the UK to rip your own CD into MP3's nobody has ever been or ever will be prosecuted for it.

        • by Whibla ( 210729 )

          It's why, despite it being illegal in the UK to rip your own CD into MP3's nobody has ever been or ever will be prosecuted for it.

          That's actually a debatable point. Section 28a of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act states:

          "Copyright of a ... musical ... work ... is not infringed by the making of a temporary copy which is transient or incidental, which is an integral and essential part of a technological process and the sole purpose of which is to enable ... b) a lawful use of the work; and which has no independent economic significance."

          In other words, if you want to listen to a piece of music that you have legally purchased, on

    • But what they hate worse than pirates is bad publicity when a grandma talks to the newspapers. I practically guarantee that they'll claim it was a mistake and fix the problem for her. That is, fix the problem for her but no one else. Public shaming works better than the lawsuit.

      • by Wulf2k ( 4703573 )

        Actually, they love the bad publicity.

        "Those monsters will even sue a sweet old grandma, if we get a letter we'd better just pay it rather than risk going to court against them."

        She isn't being sued by the game developers, she's being sued by an anti-piracy group.

  • Actual Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dangerous_Minds ( 1869682 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:53PM (#53186955)
    If anyone is interested, here's the link to the actual story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/... [www.cbc.ca]
  • This law will die or face significant overhaul as more of these stories hit the press. New of grandma charged thousands for supposedly downloading a $10 product for teens. Parents of young children charged thousands for their six-year-old downloading what they thought was a free game or movie.

    Few things anger the public more than faceless corporations using the legal system to batter the elderly and the young. These stores will continue to appear --- and rightly belong --- in the news media headlines.

    Wi

    • by Wulf2k ( 4703573 )

      But it's never a full reversal.

      It's always 5 steps forward, then one step back when people have had too much.

  • Notice-and-Notice (Score:5, Informative)

    by corychristison ( 951993 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @04:06PM (#53187045)

    The law only states the ISP must forward the notices. The ISP are not to hand over customer details or any personal information unless an actual lawsuit is filed and the information is subpoenaed.

    Many Canadians do not understand they have zero obligation to respond, and that by responding is how they get your contact information. All they have is a timestamp and an IP address, and that's all they'll ever have if you never respond.

    The Federal Government already tightened up the rules once about what the copyright holders can send in their notices. It seems it needs to be looked into again.

    • by orient ( 535927 )
      I have received once such a notice from my ISP. It started by saying that an entity claiming to be a copyright holder asked them to forward a notice to me and they are obliged by the law to do it. However, the ISP added that my information hasn't been disclosed to the entity and there is no guarantee that everything stated in the notice is true or legal. Then the notice followed, in quotation marks. Basically, my ISP told me to ignore the notice until I hear something from a court. They never tried again.
  • by misnohmer ( 1636461 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @04:08PM (#53187057)

    Reading the actual notice (http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3199120-Cogeco-Settlement-Letter-Blurred.html) it sounds like plain extortion. Personally I would go to the local provincial or federal authorities, and if they say it's illegal, demand that they press charges for extortion. If on the other hand they say it's legal, I'd consult with a lawyer how anyone can submit such settlement proposals, then offer an online service for anyone to submit such settlement proposals to everyone. ISP are required by law to forward them so this should make for a fun DoS attack. Everyone offering to settle with everyone for any potential copyright notices ought to jam the system up fairly quickly. After all, you never know when people may want to violate copyrights of a cat video someone made, so just in case, collect $5,000 so if and when they do you won't sue them.

    • it sounds like plain extortion. Personally I would go to the local provincial or federal authorities, and if they say it's illegal, demand that they press charges for extortion.

      I don't live in Canada, but here in New Zealand we have this thing called Private Prosecution where anyone can take a criminal prosecution against anyone else. The fact that the prosecutor has to pay their own expenses makes it a rare occurrence, but when a local mayoral candidate was accused of cheating on his electoral expenses and the Attorney General declined to take the case, a private citizen did us all a favour and took over. It ended with a loss on appeal, but the idea was a great one IMHO: This gi [stuff.co.nz]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Isn't it true in the commonwealth system that a private prosecution can end in a judicially sanctioned duel if the accused demands trial by combat?

        • No.
          Well, officially it's still on the books -even for state prosecutions - but no, it's not. Somebody tried it a few months ago on a traffic ticket case, and the court ruled that trial by combat is not an option. So there is now court precedent that you can no longer exercise this former right.

          Funny -I don't recall seeing any libertardians complain about another freedom lost. The freedom to get your oversized roid-using brother to kick the shit out of the cop who arrested you should be a thing again !

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @04:16PM (#53187119) Homepage

    for extortion. This is the same Canipre that has no problems pirating other peoples works https://www.techdirt.com/artic... [techdirt.com]

    • I imagine an 86 year old has better things to do than taking Canipre to court for extortion, such as enjoying the fact that today she's alive.

      • On the other hand, with very few years, on average, left to live - what does she really have to lose ? Even if she spent all her savings getting them convicted just to feel good about the victory - so what, why save for a rainy day when you aren't going to live through the sunny day ?

  • Until she is behind bars.
  • It's still spam even when the government does it. This is no more moral than a Nigerian Prince scam.

    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      From what I'm reading, it's not the government doing it.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      It's still spam even when the government does it. This is no more moral than a Nigerian Prince scam.

      Its not the government doing it in this case. Its just the Law turning a blind eye to it.

      The "notices" are being sent out by a private corporation working on behalf of "rights holders" (media conglomerates in other words). It is called "speculative invoicing" in corporate newspeak and basically works on the same principle as the the Nigerian Prince Scam. Send out dozens of letters at a few pence each, hope that someone takes the bait for a few hundred pounds. Easy money when you make it look official and

  • ...for others a dating game...

  • Wow, are you telling me that when you give the reins for extortion over to a private and unscrupulous hive of money-grubbing extortionists, they are going to use them exactly as everyone predicted? It's almost as if everyone not part of the copyright lobby was right when they said this is what's going to happen...

    (This might be a non-sequiteur, but also fuck you, Trudeau)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There's a women in her 70s in my World of Warcraft raiding group. She's also Canadian. I've known multiple women in their 60s who play as well. What's another decade?

  • How has no one mentioned Grandma Lilly ( Grandma's Boy [imdb.com] ). She rocked the dogshit out of that demon game... Maybe she got the itch for games.

  • by leftover ( 210560 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @06:18PM (#53188051) Homepage

    Every time stories like this come up, with a named perpetrator, it seems righteously karmic that they be subjected to relentless IP problems of mysterious origin. Unfortunately, it seems that Karma lacks admin access to switches and routers around the perps.

    Wonder if anyone here could help with that?

  • Unless that bill repealed all fees on physical media - passed to "pay" for "piracy" - then Canadians are getting DVDA'ed [youtube.com] by the corporations.

  • In what world in metro 2033 a zombie game? Goddamn noobs.
  • Ha ha, I once got one of these letters (living in Wisconsin). I lived in an apartment and left my wifi unlocked (on purpose). Someone must have downloaded a movie because I got a letter chiding me for downloading I Love You, Man. I chortled! I threw away the letter after enjoying a fantasy where they sued me and I got to testify about how I hate movies, don't watch movies, especially low-brow dumb movies, and would never ever ever spend two hours watching I Love You, Man. My hard drive sure as hell wouldn't

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