Over the last 10 years many have found themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits related to copyright infringement. Over time many law firms have popped up that specialize in hunting down people using torrents to download copyrighted material.
Although there is nothing illegal about enforcing copyright, how some of them did it comes into question. Now the FBI is investigating to in their words “determine if they violated Federal Laws related to their threatened litigation and demands for settlement from” Americans. The FBI referred to this in their letter as “a fraudulent scheme known as “trolling.”:
Now Cord Cutters News was shown documents from the investigation that are being sent to Victims of one of these law firms last week. (Note we removed the firms names as no charges have been filled at this time.)
We are investigating Removed and its related entities to determine if they violated Federal Laws related to their threatened litigation and demands for settlement from your clients. In particular, Removed and their related entities include: Removed, Removed, Removed, Removed, Removed, Removed, and Removed.
It is our understanding that the subjects may have threatened civil litigation suits against your clients for illegally downloading adult pornographic content. The subjects demanded an amount from your clients which was less expensive than civil litigation.
The FBI wants to make it clear that they view people who downloaded these files as Victims, in this case according to the questionnaire sent out by the FBI last week.
From the attached letter:
It is our understanding that your clients, the victims, may be hesitant to speak with the FBI and/or law enforcement, however we consider them victims in this matter, and as such, are entitled to certain Rights and services under Federal Law and the FBI’s Victim Assistance Program. It is our hope that by providing you this letter and the questionnaires you will be able to assist us with our investigation.
The FBI seems very focused on learning about the money that was demanded and are looking for people willing to testify. From the questionnaire that was sent out:
How much money were you initially offered to pay to settle the civil litigation? What is the name of your Attorney that assisted with settling this civil litigation? What was the final amount you paid to settle the civil litigation? What was the amount you were charged for attorney fees? These questions are being asked for restitution purposes.
If necessary, would you be willing to testify in Federal Court on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Minnesota? Currently, this matter is under investigation, and charges have not been filed.
This is currently only an investigation, but it has been under investigation for a year now. Based on the fact that the FBI is looking to contact Victims and find people willing to testify in court seems to mean the investigation has moved to a new level.
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