Copyright trolls are not going away – and why should they, since the legal shadowlands contained in current US copyright law allow them to continue to ply their trade online.
The only thing that can stop this worrying at best and dangerously parasitic at worst practice is a change of that legislation. But in the meanwhile, we hear stories of long-standing trolls like CEG TEK simply catching up with the times, and also making some seemingly corporate, front-store changes along the way.
As Techdirt has it, what social media users are dealing with now is Okularity – but this one arose from CEG TEK, that played its part in the copyright troll scene some ten years ago, in what’s unflatteringly described as “one of the most ridiculous copyright trolling outfits.”
Keeping the CEG TEK legacy alive, and the lights on, is its former CTO Jon Nicolini, who is now behind Okularity. The charge here is that this company is all about extorting social platforms users for money, in a way that (no doubt given Nicolini’s previous experience) seems more “professional” than the usual modern-day crop of social media copyright bullies.
But even professional and experienced copyright trolls apparently make mistakes.
When Okularity went after Paper Magazine’s owner, Enttech Media Group, its lawyer went out to expose exactly how this alleged scam works.
Read the complaint here.
Apparently, it’s not just any old false DMCA notice strike; instead, according to lawyer Richard Tauler, Okularity “created software for the express purpose of disabling valuable commercial accounts on social media platforms (in this case Instagram) so that they can then demand extortionate sums (in this case over a million dollars) from the account holders to have the accounts restored.”
What Okularity is accused of doing here is bringing about DMCA-based account blocks that are apparently automatically activated on Instagram – “once a certain amount of DMCA notices have been submitted on a particular account.”
To speed matters along, Okularity is said to have developed a web-scraping bit of software that pulls in allegedly infringing images from the internet, to then automatically file DMCA takedowns to Instagram and other social media – which we know these obey first, and then ask the target the question of whether they’d like to appeal later.
“Okularity does this without any of the investigation, warning, or legal analysis required by the DMCA, let alone any demand letter to the alleged infringer,” the court filing said – but to be fair, social networks act much in the same way.
Unlike these platforms, which “merely deplatform” users, Ocularity apparently also engages in “negotiating ‘settlements’ for the alleged copyright claims” to go away.
And that’s obviously where the extortion accusation comes in.