2Italy: Cracking Down on Copyright Violations

October 24, 2022

It is easy to break copyright on the Internet, but it is near impossible to enforce it unless you have time, money, and inclination. According to Giovanni Franchini’s blog post: “Copyright, The Antitrust Authority Condemns Fechner and Photoclaims’ ‘Illegal Letters’. Stopping The Scam,” German lawyer Robert Fechner sent copyright violation letters on behalf of the Photoclaim company to unsuspecting Italian citizens. The Italian Competition and Market Authority decreed that Fechner’s notices were illegal and to cease any further actions. The official documentation is as follows:

“In condemning the Fechner-Photoclaim system, the Authority states: ‘the payment requests sent by the lawyer Fechner, on behalf of Photoclaim, do not appear to comply with the high degree of diligence required by professionals in the legal protection of online copyright sector and are capable of considerably limiting the freedom of choice of the recipient micro-enterprises and inducing them to hire decisions of a commercial nature that he otherwise would not have made. Such conduct therefore integrates an unfair commercial practice, in violation of Articles 20, paragraph 2, 24 and 25, of the Consumer Code ‘“
Fechner and Photclaim sent violation notices en masse to people in the hopes of collecting fees. When one company received the notice, it decided to investigate and notified the Italian Competition and Market Authority. The Italian Competition and Market Authority then decided to conduct its own investigation, and asked Photoclaim and Fechner to comply with the process, but was met with resistance. Fechner and Photoclaim used their knowledge of international bureaucracy and law to drag the scam out as long as possible.

The Italian Competition and Market Authority finally called BS on Fechner and Photoclain, fined them, and told them to go away. The bad actors wanted to make a profit off of supposed copyright violations, but they failed to understand what copyright does. Copyright protects an individual’s or group’s rights and the originators of a unique body of work. It prevents others from copying or stealing the work for their own gain. If theft is suspected, then the copyright holders have the right to take legal action, demand a fee for usage, etc.

This scam is similar to fake tech support calls or Amazon/eBay violation scams. The bad actors demand fees, then threaten legal action to scare the victims into paying money. Fechner and Photoclaim went a roundabout way to steal money. Maybe they could learn a thing or two from Nigerian bad actors.

Whitney Grace, October 24, 2022


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