Meet the company which wants to stop pirates using the Web until they pay up

Rightscorp wants to work with ISPs to block Internet access and extract fines from suspected pirates.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Anti-piracy firm Rightscorp hopes to partner with Internet services providers (ISPs) to force alleged content thieves to pay up -- or have their access to the Internet removed entirely.


The company says new technology currently being developed will lock user browsers and stop them from visiting any online address through their ISP's connection until they pay a fine.

There's the stick, so where is the carrot for ISPs? Limited liability for their customer's actions.

On Monday, TorrentFreak reported that Rightscorp is looking for new ways to scrape together cash from alleged pirates of copyrighted material -- which, despite efforts to block such websites, is readily available via BitTorrent technology and .torrent search engines -- and technology called "Scalable Copyright" could be key.

Rightscorp described the technology as below:

"In the Scalable Copyright system, subscribers receive each [settlement] notice directly in their browser.

Single notices can be read and bypassed similar to the way a software license agreement works [but] once the Internet account receives a certain number of notices over a certain time period, the screen cannot be bypassed until the settlement payment is received."

It is unsurprising that Rightscorp is turning towards more aggressive ways to make money. ISPs are often reluctant to get involved in cases of copyright theft and pirating for a number of reasons, including the idea that customers may turn away from them if they consider themselves being spied upon. In addition, there is no real way to prove a customer and alleged pirate's identity can be defined by an IP address, and so cases against a suspect are often based on pressure and demands rather than court cases.

This results in suspect pirates often being sent little more than cease-and-desist letters. However, Rightscorp believes that ISPs can be turned to its way of thinking by providing online activity data to these providers for free, which could generate extra revenue through tailored Internet advertising.

However, the main temptation is "reducing their third-party liability," for what customers may or may not be doing with their connection.

Rightscorp reported a net loss of $3.43 million in the firm's 2015 financial results, and blamed a lack of clients, the uptake in the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and the reluctance of ISPs to get involved for poor results.

Whether holding suspects to ransom to pay a fine for alleged pirate activity is the answer is debatable. Without proof of someone's guilt, the technology -- if it was even implemented by ISPs - is little more than ransomware, and would likely hit the reputation of broadband providers the hardest, potentially putting off potential customers from signing up.

These are the best 2016 April Fools tech pranks on the Web

Read on: Top picks

Editorial standards