I’ve recently come across a news story that gives an idea for the perfect scam. The story follows a law firm that specialises in copyright protection of porn production companies. Their main strategy is to send hundreds of cease and desist letters each week. Of course like most bottomfeeding strategies to do with copyright, they don’t target commercial entities but individual users — for allegedly downloading pornography illegally through bit torrents and the like.
Their offer is simple: pay us a 500-1000 GBP settlement or we’ll take you to court. Oh, and of course the video the defendant is alleged to have downloaded is often pretty outrageous, eg. granny porn or horse porn or some such.
And therein lies the evil brilliance. For in reading the article you see that those who they interviewed who received the letters tended to deny downloading these. For example:
“He is accused of downloading the track ‘Evacuate the Dancefloor’ on October 2 last year…Mr [name redacted] says he was in Dorset at the time, not in Aberdeen where his IP address is registered, and that he has airline tickets and medical appointment records to prove it. He says he leaves his internet connection switched off when he’s away and no one else has access to it. He has no interest in pop music.”
However some probably pay up to save the embarrassment of defending themselves against charges of downloading granny porn. So, the greatness of the scam is that you don’t need to act on behalf of any porn production company. You don’t even need to “catch” people illegally torrenting porn files. I say just print these out and send away. Just make sure the porn titles are outrageous enough. I’m sure a lot of people will pay.
This is a very natural outcome of what happens when you have (1) an online copyright system which basically operates on a presumption of guilt and (2) a culture that’s still largely sex-negative, where it’s impossible to find men who haven’t watched porn but where many will die rather than admit this. Perhaps it will take someone getting busted for operating this scam where the victims have never torrented anything to highlight the absurdity.