Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Turning The Tables

Even a hustler has lessons to learn
It started when Hollywood studio Voltage Pictures - in the person of Samuel Seow Law Corporation in Singapore - sent out threatening letters of demand to local Internet users for illegally sharing its film "Dallas Buyers Club": pay up or run the risk of being sued. By hinting at the possibility of criminal sanction, apparently the lawyers ran afoul of the Law Society's Practice Directions and Rulings 1989 which state: "It is improper for a solicitor to communicate in writing or otherwise a threat of criminal proceedings in order to achieve a stated objective in any circumstance."

Without going into the intricacies arguing that a case cannot even be made to say that a identified internet protocol (IP) address is proof one has actually downloaded one complete copy of a movie, the stinker here is that the whole exercise is a scare tactic and a copyright troll. Michael Wickstrom, vice-president of Voltage Pictures, has said that a letter from a rights holder is a “good deterrent” to further piracy, admitting,  “All I request is that our local attorneys send a warning, because I don’t anticipate a settlement from them except a warning.” Worse, his company has a notorious history of using tracking software to bait victims by mimicking a user of a peer-to-peer network and to offer a file for download to other file sharers.

Plenty of grounds for Internet Society (Singapore)’s president, Harish Pillay, to complain to the Law Society, accusing the firm of engaging in a “bad bullying tactic”. The parties named are Robert Raj Joseph, director, and Lee Heng Eam, associate, from Samuel Seow Law Corp’s litigation and dispute resolution practice group. Raj, who issued the letters of demand, is reported to be leaving the company and has been placed on "gardening" leave, a fancy term for an employee's suspension from work on full pay for the duration of a notice period, typically to prevent them from having any further influence on the organization or from accessing confidential information. Samuel Seow said that Raj’s departure is not related to the handling of the case, suggesting he might also be naughty in other fields of pursuit.

The positive outcome of this nasty episode is that it has rekindled revival of interest in virtual private networks (VPN) - unblock any sites, protect your privacy and surf anonymously with a free proxy. Have you installed yours yet?


  1. They call it "Speculative Invoicing". Voltage Pictures LLC itself is being sued by Toho for infringing on it's copyright to Godzilla. And the investors in the Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) film are also suing Voltage Pictures for not fully distributing the overseas profits from the film. And Voltage Pictures LLC and DBC LLC are suing uploaders of this film all over the world. It looks like the pot is blacker than the kettle.


  2. How did this threat gone for so long without someone calling their bluff is beyond me.
    Many of those earlier threatened were M1 subscribers who would have paid some good money to them avoid court proceedings.
    Voltage Pics had a reputation of baiting downloaders and threaten them with legal actions to order to get some financial returns when their pictures couldn't make it on the big screens
    Certainly the legal fratenity could have taken issue with one of their own instead of waiting for a complaint to act.

    1. "We are deaf to all criticism."
      Lim Peh Say Swee Swee

    2. "What is wrong with collecting more money?"

      If you are disgusted at the bullying tactics, greed and hypocrisy of Voltage Pictures LLC, DBC LLC and Samuel Seow LC, you can boycott all their movies. Here is a list of films mad by Voltage:


    3. Singaporeans are easily threaten.
      They are deliberately made that way and it just took less than 50 years for them to be conditioned.

      Dutch courage if any.

  3. //Singaporeans are easily threaten//
    And Singapore ISPs are the first to cringe and give way.
    Unlike M1, Starhub and Singtel, Australian ISP iiNet took Voltage to court, ending up with the requirement that any letters sent out has to be approved by the court. Another group, M2, has also indicated it may provide pro-bono legal assistance in similar cases, making the copyright trolls think twice before striking.

  4. In Sydney's federal court today (7 April 2015), Justice Nye Perram ruled that so-called preliminary discovery should be granted to the rights holder, with certain conditions.

    To protect customer privacy, DBC LLC will be restricted from disclosing the names and addresses of any alleged infringers iiNet hands over. Perram said the conditions he had imposed on DBC LLC around privacy and the wording of the letters would avoid account holders' potential vulnerability to "what may appear to be abusive practices".

    He said the damages for single instances of infringement were likely to be modest and potentially equal to the license fee the customer would have paid had they bought the film.

    Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/402442,iinet-ordered-to-hand-over-customer-details-to-dallas-buyers-club.aspx#ixzz3dwmR8Cxr