The highly dubious practice of speculative invoicing, which sees law firms demanding large sums of cash from people of accused of copyright infringement if they want to avoid being dragged through embarrassing and possibly expensive courts cases, is thriving in Germany.
Although very few of these cases have come to trial, most are dismissed because the accusations are based on data supplied by ISPs which can't reliably identify who was actually using the connection at the time of the infringement.
Unfortunately, a large number of people pay the cash rather than risk public humiliation.
The whole scam is a numbers game which relies on a tiny fraction of those who receive the threatening letters being intimidated enough to pay out anything up to £1500.
Two recent cases in the US brought to court by the US Copyright Group each saw more than 20,000 alleged file sharers accused of downloading movies based on shaky evidence forced out of ISPs by court orders.
Now, according to thinq_ (opens in new tab) German ISPs are being asked to hand over the details of their users at a rate of more than 300,000 per month, or 3.2 million a year.
The figures were published by Germany's Internet industry association ECO in an attempt to expose the money-making scam which has done little to reward artists for their endeavours, but seeks to make piles of cash for the copyright holders and law firms involved.