When the Danish copyright troll Njord Law started operating in Sweden, it went to court saying that it was planning on enforcing copyright, not engaging in "speculative invoicing" — a kind of legal blackmail that involves sending out thousands of legal threats on the off chance that some people will pay you to go away.
But now that Njord Law has successfully convinced Swedish courts to force ISPs to hand out contact detail for more than 50,000 Swedes, a very different pattern has emerged. Njord Law has sent out some 35,000 legal threats, and by its own admission, only 60% of their victims have paid up.
What of the 14,000+ others that Njord Law had solemnly promised they would sue?
If Njord Law was really an avenging angel bent on enforcing copyright, you'd expect that they'd be fighting the kinds of unrepentant pirates who just wipe their asses with demand letters. Instead, Njord Law has solely and exclusively targeted easily intimidated people who were willing to cough up a few hundred dollars to make their threats go away — a sum calculated to be less than you would pay just to ask a lawyer if you should pay it.
As Andy on Torrentfreak points out, Njord Law's takings are likely somewhere between $15,000,000 and $27,500,000. The firm hasn't released any details of how much of that went to creators and how much it got trousered in "administrative overheads."
"There is a risk of what is known in English as 'legal blackmailing'," says Mårten Schultz, professor of civil law at Stockholm University.
"With [the copyright holders'] legal and economic muscles, small citizens are scared into paying claims that they do not legally have to pay."
It's a position shared by Marianne Levine, Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Stockholm University.
"One can only show that an IP address appears in some context, but there is no point in the evidence. Namely, that it is the subscriber who also downloaded illegitimate material," she told SVT.
Njord Law, on the other hand, sees things differently.
"In Sweden, we have no legal case saying that you are not responsible for your IP address," Emelie Svensson says.
Legal Blackmail: Zero Cases Brought Against Alleged Pirates in Sweden [Andy/Torrentfreak]