Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘DMCA Scare Letters’ Category

I am observing “shifting sands” when it comes to the number of internet users who are getting caught in the web of CEG-TEK DMCA-based settlement demand letters.

For almost two years, I have been telling people that there are three internet service providers who are working with Ira Siegel — Charter Communications, SuddenLink, and CenturyLink. This has been true, and continues to be true.

I have also told people that if your ISP is participating in the “Six Strikes” anti-piracy system — specifically, Comcast (Xfinity), Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision – then there is nothing to worry about (because these ISPs are no longer forwarding Ira Siegel’s DMCA settlement demand letters, meaning that there is nothing at the moment to settle).  This is NO LONGER TRUE.

In recent weeks, I have observed Comcast (Xfinity) infringement notices sent to subscribers in spite of the “Six Strikes” system being in place.  [The Comcast notices contain relevant infringement information, yet only reference the “CEG-TEK Case Number;” Comcast has, however, neglected to provide the password so that the accused downloader could visit CEG-TEK’s website to determine what claims they have against him.  The unintended consequence is that in order to see what claim(s) CEG-TEK has against the accused subscriber, the subscriber would be forced to contact CEG-TEK directly to obtain the password corresponding to the Case Number (thus exposing his identity, and potentially incriminating himself when answering questions). Direct communication with copyright trolls is a big no-no, as you know it is my opinion that communicating directly with them is a bad idea because their goal is to extract a large settlement from you on behalf of their clients.]

As for the 100+ small and mid-sized ISPs who did not join the “Six Strikes” system, with hindsight, we now know that CEG-TEK has spent the last two years on an aggressive campaign to enroll as many ISPs to work with them as they could… “to stop piracy,” of course.  While it was surprising to us is that CEG-TEK went after Giganews and a growing number of VPN providers (finding the downloaders where the downloaders allegedly reside), the breaking news is that CEG-TEK has signed on COX Communications to send Ira Siegel’s DMCA letters to their subscribers.

Again, just in case you missed it – COX COMMUNICATIONS is now working with CEG-TEK.

Cox Communications has literally millions of subscribers.  They were almost expected to be part of the “Six Strikes” system, but then they declined to join keeping them free of the “Six Strikes” rules.

On a personal note, Cox used to annoy me when various copyright trolls would sue their subscribers. Instead of housing a subpoena department internally, they used to outsource all of their business relating to their subscribers to a company named NEUSTAR, a company that was complicit and merciless in turning over the records of hundreds of accused defendants in the copyright trolling lawsuits over the years.

In sum, with this article I take back a number of things that I thought almost two years ago, namely that the Six Strikes system would kill CEG-TEK’s business.  As you can see from the list below, CEG-TEK has responded to the “Six Strikes” system by focusing their efforts on growing the number of ISPs who are working with them.  Now that they have Cox Communications on board, this will be a problem for many thousands of users in the months and years to come.

Below is a list of ISPs who have been known to forward Ira Siegel’s DMCA settlement demand letters.  This list is obviously incomplete (and I have no intention of updating this list), but what is important is that two years ago, these ISPs were not working with CEG-TEK.  Now they are, and accused internet users are receiving notices of infringement instructing that they visit CEG-TEK’s website and settle the claims against them.

LIST OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS KNOWN TO WORK WITH CEG-TEK:
AeroSurf
AirtranNet
Arvig
Ashland Home Net
Bloom Broadband
Blue Ridge Communications
CenturyLink
Charter Communications
CondoInternet
DigitalOcean
EPB Fiber Optics
First Communications
GigaNews
Google Fiber
Hotspot Broadband
Internet Services of Cincinnati (ISOC.net)
MetroCast
Midcontinent Communications
Mid-Rivers Communications
Morris Broadband
NeoNova Network Services
OlyPen Cable
PenTel Data (another name for Blue Ridge Communications)
ResTech
SuddenLink Communications
ViaSat / Exede Internet
StrongVPN
Whidbey Telecom
WildBlue (service through ViaSat)

UNIVERSITIES KNOWN TO FORWARD CEG-TEK SETTLEMENT DEMAND LETTERS:
Rice University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Stanford University
University of Michigan
Wisconsin University
University of Alaska

Read Full Post »

The first rule of Usenet is “you do not speak about usenet.”  While writing something like this can upset those I would not want to upset, there is a bigger problem — what happens when the Usenet service provider (or more accurately, newsgroup service provider) fingers you as the internet user who is accused of committing a crime you did not do?

My mind can swirl with the possible implications of the above inquiry (oh what crimes can one commit), but in the context of this TorrentLawyer blog, there is a Usenet provider which is causing problems for their subscribers by identifying them as being the users who downloaded one or more copyrighted videos.

Many privacy-minded individuals flock to a service called Giganews because the content they provide is parallel to none.  The problem is that Giganews providers their subscribers with a Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) called VyprVPN (in conjunction with their Golden Frog service), where their VPN is supposed to hide the identity and the activities of the users while they are logged into the Giganews service.  This is effective for privacy-minded individuals who wish to communicate with others privately (e.g., stream a VoIP phone conversation over an encrypted connection) or mask their IP address from websites they visit.  Similarly, a VPN is useful when your ISP monitors your connection for the purposes of what is known as “traffic shaping” — making certain activities happen faster, and slowing down less-favored activities.

[To those that have been paying attention, VPN providers are not created equally.  Notoriously, some (e.g., HideMyAss) have turned over the identities of their subscribers causing their arrest and incarceration.  Giganews has also been implicated as being infiltrated by the FBI, and they are known to track and log all of their subscribers’ activities, even those activities apparently masked through their VyprVPN service.]

To the chagrin of those who have placed their trust in the VyprVPN service, many have received notices from Giganews implicating them as being the downloaders of copyrighted materials.  They are sent one or more DMCA settlement demand letters from companies (such as CEG-TEK), even when they have not done any downloading at all.

While in this case I cannot fault any of the parties (accused subscriber, CEG-TEK) who are now enmeshed in a “yes you did,” “no I didn’t” fight, I can fault Giganews / Golden Frog / VyprVPN for mistakenly pointing the finger at one of their users for activities that user did not partake in.

Now obviously as an attorney, I represent many accused internet users, many of whom “have always been downloaders, and will always be downloaders,” but specifically with Giganews, too often there is an inaccuracy where the wrong user is accused of downloading copyrighted media when that user was not even logged into the Giganews service at the time the downloads allegedly happened.

This is a problem with timekeeping and recordkeeping, something Giganews (or Golden Frog) should remedy ASAP.

Read Full Post »

I believe it is the duty of the copyright holders to “police their own copyrights,” meaning, if a company sees a bittorrent tracker or website hosting an unlicensed copy of their copyrighted work, BY ALL MEANS, issue a DMCA takedown notice to the website or to the bittorrent tracker, and that torrent will be GONE AND UNAVAILABLE for downloaders to take the content.

Rather than doing this, copyright holders hire CEG-TEK to target EVERY SINGLE DOWNLOADER with a letter forwarded by various ISPs, VPN providers, or university IT departments who are cooperating with CEG-TEK (sometimes for profit). Account holders receive “notice of infringement” letters sent directly to them either via an e-mail, FedEx, or a screen pop-up link along with a notification that they have violated the ISP’s terms of service. CEG-TEK’s letters now ask for $250-$300 per download, and they direct the accused downloaders to the “Copyright Settlements” website (http://www.copyrightsettlements.com) with a link which pre-populates the assigned Case Number and Password into the website.

With the cooperation of the ISPs in forwarding CEG-TEK’s letters to accused downloaders, there is no longer an anonymity barrier between the accused downloaders and the copyright holders as there once was when CEG-TEK would need a court order to access the identities of the accused downloaders. Now, since various ISPs and universities (e.g., Charter, Suddenlink, CenturyLink, Giganews/VyprVPN, etc.; NOTE: Comcast, Verizon, and the other big ISPs appear NOT to be working with CEG-TEK for the moment) have been useless in stopping the copyright holders from contacting the account holders, other than hiring a lawyer such as myself to create a buffer between the copyright holders and the accused account holders, bittorrent users should probably be aware of which companies are using this extortion tactic of “we will sue you unless you pay us money for the video you have downloaded.”

Here is a list I compiled from my own records as to which copyright holders are [at the moment] using Ira Siegel and CEG-TEK to “monetize” their “most pirated” copyrights. I want to point out that I am conflicted as to whether to post this list because the list itself can be deceiving — a title “not” on this list can still be monitored, and by no means am I suggesting that someone avoid these titles and download others. Perhaps by listing which companies are enforcing their copyrights using this extortion-type of “settle or else we’ll sue” method, it might shame the companies into doing something a bit more ethical (e.g., by policing their own copyrights and issuing DMCA takedown letters rather than attacking the downloaders as a means for financial revenue):

Axel Braun Productions
- “Batman XXX: A Porn Parody”

Celestial Inc., DBA Lethal Hardcore
- Fuck My Mom and Me 17

Cinderella Distributors Inc.
- Backdoor To Hollywood 6

Coast to Coast Video
- Older Women Younger Men 16

Combat Zone Inc.
- Daddy’s Little Princess #2

Daring Media Group
- Pretty Woman

Diabolic
- Swallowing is Good For You

Digital Sin, Inc.
- All About Ashlynn 1
- Incestuous
- Little Darlings
- My Anal School Girl
- My Plaything Ashlynn Brooke
- Perfect Little Pussy
- The Family That Lays Together
- The Innocence Of Youth #3, #5, #6
- This Is My First… A Gangbang Movie

Echo Alpha, Inc. DBA Evil Angel
- Fetish Fanatic 12
- Fetish Fuck Dolls 3
- Raw 16
- Rocco’s Perfect Slaves 3
- Rocco’s Young Anal Adventures

Fallout Films
- Naughty Girls 2

Froytal Services Limited DBA Babes
- Abrasador
- Amatores
- Dancing With Myself
- Hearts Racing
- Love Encounter
- Raving With Pleasure

Froytal Services Limited DBA Brazzers
- Dani’s Back and Ready to Play
- Driving Mrs. Madison Wild
- I Can Walk!!!
- Miss Titness America
- Mommy Got Boobs 15
- Sharing My Roommate’s Cock (Milfs Like It Big)
- Slutty Sorority Contest
- Teens Like It Big 12
- The Dangers of Working From Home (Kiki Minaj)

Froytal Services Limited DBA Mofos
- Best Vacation Ever! (Ivy Laine)
- Cheerleader Fantasy
- Flashing Gets Her Whatever She Wants
- Fun And Sex Games
- I Make It Rain On Your Tits (I Know That Girl; Dillon Harper)
- Jewels for the Duch-ASS
- Rub a Dub Gimme a Tug
- Swinging Slut Buffet

Froytal Services Limited DBA Twistys
- Burnin’ Luv
- Cum Over And Taste..

GGW Direct, LLC DBA “Girls Gone Wild”
- ALL NEW COLLEGE GIRLS EXPOSED VOL 1
- ALL NEW COLLEGE GIRLS EXPOSED VOL 2
- ALL NEW COLLEGE GIRLS EXPOSED VOL 3
- ALL NEW COLLEGE GIRLS EXPOSED VOL 4
- ALL NEW COLLEGE GIRLS EXPOSED VOL 5
- ALL NEW COLLEGE GIRLS EXPOSED VOL 6
- Baby Bash Live & Uncensored
- Bad Girls 2
- BEACH BABES 3
- BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
- Best Breasts Ever
- BEST BREASTS EVER 2
- Best of Blondes 2
- Celebrity Look-A-Likes
- CO-ED TRYOUTS
- CO-ED TRYOUTS 2
- CO-ED TRYOUTS 3
- DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS
- Endless Spring Break 3
- Endless Spring Break 4
- Endless Spring Break 5
- Endless Spring Break 6
- Endless Spring Break 7
- Endless Spring Break 9
- Endless Spring Break 10
- Endless Spring Break 11
- Endless Spring Break 12
- Endless Spring Break 13
- Endless Spring Break 14
- EXTREME ORGY 1
- EXTREME ORGY 2
- EXTREME ORGY 3
- FIRST TIMERS
- FIRST TIMERS 2
- Freshman Class
- FRESHMAN ORIENTATION 1
- FRESHMAN ORIENTATION 2
- FRESHMAN ORIENTATION 3
- FRESHMAN ORIENTATION 4
- GGW – Extreme Sex
- GGW – On Tour 1
- GGW – On Tour 2
- GGW – On Tour 3
- GGW – On Tour 4
- GGW – On Tour 5
- GGW – On Tour 6
- GGW – On Tour 7
- GGW – On Tour 8
- GGW – Sweet Young Sex Maniacs
- GIRL POWER
- GIRL POWER 2
- GIRL POWER 3
- GIRL POWER 4
- GIRL POWER 5
- GIRL POWER 6
- GIRL POWER 7
- GIRL POWER 8
- GIRL POWER 8
- GIRL POWER 9
- Girls On Girls
- GIRLS WHO CRAVE SEX
- GIRLS WHO CRAVE SEX 3
- Girls Who Like Girls
- GIRLS WHO LIKE TOYS
- Horny Cheerleaders
- HORNY SCHOOL GIRLS
- HORNY SCHOOL GIRLS 2
- HORNY SCHOOL GIRLS 3 (PRIVATE TAPES)
- HORNY SCHOOL GIRLS 4
- Hottest Texas Coeds
- ISLAND ORGY
- MARDI GRAS INVASION
- My 18th Birthday
- Road Trip
- ROCKS AMERICA
- Sex Race
- SEX STARVED COLLEGE GIRLS 2
- SEX STARVED COLLEGE GIRLS 3
- SEX STARVED COLLEGE GIRLS 4
- SEX STARVED COLLEGE GIRLS 5
- SEX STARVED COLLEGE GIRLS 6
- SEX STARVED COLLEGE GIRLS 7
- SEX STARVED PANTY RAID
- Sexiest Moments Ever
- Sexiest Moments Ever 2
- SORORITY GIRL ORGY
- SORORITY GIRL ORGY 2
- SORORITY GIRL ORGY 3
- SORORITY GIRL ORGY 4
- Spring Break 2007
- SPRING BREAK SEX RIOT
- The Perfect Pair
- THE SEIZED VIDEO
- Ultimate Rush
- Usually a siterip or a torrent containing 25+ titles.
- Wild World
- Wildest Bar in America

Giant Media Group, Inc. DBA Devil’s Film
- Ass Full Of Cum 4
- Best Of Gangland Cream Pie
- Cum On My Hairy Pussy 2
- Cum On My Hairy Pussy 16
- Don’t Tell My Wife I Buttfucked Her Best Friend
- Gangland 70
- Gangland 85
- Gangland Cream Pie 24
- Gangland Cream Pie 25
- Gangland Cream Pie 26
- Gangland Cream Pie 27
- Gangland Cream Pie 28
- I Wanna Buttfuck Your Daughter 10
- My Wife Caught Me Assfucking Her Mother
- My Wife Caught Me Assfucking Her Mother 2
- My Wife Caught Me Assfucking Her Mother 5

Girlfriends Films Inc.
- I Dream of Jo 4 True Passion
- Mother Daughter Exchange Club 27
- Poor Little Shyla 2
- Tides of Lust
- Lesbian First Timers
- Lesbian Seductions 46

Intense Industries
- Fucking Your Socks Off

JM Productions Inc.
- Suck Off Races 3

JW Releasing Ltd
- Kinky Business

Kick Ass Pictures Inc.
- Foot Fetish Daily 9

LFP Internet Group, LLC DBA Hustler
- Barely Legal 2
- Barely Legal 16
- Barely Legal 19
- Barely Legal 84
- Barely Legal 100
- Barely Legal 127
- Barely Legal 128
- Barely Legal 131
- Barely Legal 134
- Barely Legal 138
- Barely Legal 139
- Barely Legal 140
- Barely Legal Little Runaways
- Barely Legal: All Stars 5
- New Wave Hookers
- The Opening of Misty Beethoven
- This Ain’t Game of Thrones

Manwin Content RK Limited DBA Reality Kings
- 2 For 1 Pink
- A Lavish Load
- Belle Bottom
- Bouncing Deluca (Big Naturals; Angel Deluca)
- Cum Hard
- Dirty Minds
- Full Figure (Monster Curves; Katie Banks)
- Getting Hardy
- Girlfriends Revenge (GF Revenge 6)
- Hello Alexis
- Leather and Lace
- Licking Lessons – Jasmine Wolff (Moms Bang Teens 2013-12-30)
- Naughty Kennedy – Kennedy Leigh (Moms Bang Teens 2014-01-20)
- Pussy Love (Money Talks – Esmi & Lily)
- Riding Riley
- Ripping Through
- Sexy All Star
- Sexy Stella
- Sweet Veronica
- Tits and Hips
- Ass In Heels – Angell Summers (EuroSexParties 2013-05-30)
- Busty Bikini Babes 1
- Finger Licking Good
- Lick It

Manwin DP Corp. DBA Digital Playground
- Bad Girls 5
- Bad Girls 6
- Bridesmaids
- Code of Honor
- Don’t Fuck My Sister
- For Sale
- Island Fever 2
- Island Fever 3
- Jack Attack 4
- Jack’s POV 2
- Jack’s POV 3
- Jack’s POV 5
- Jack’s POV 7
- Jack’s POV 8
- Jack’s POV 10
- Jack’s POV 12
- Jack’s POV 15
- JACK’S POV 19
- Jesse Jane Fuck Fantasy
- Jesse Jane Kiss Kiss
- Lost and Found
- Nurses
- Pink Slip
- Pirates
- Raven Alexis The Substitute
- Riley Steele Deceptions
- Riley Steele Satisfaction
- The Girlfriend Exchange
- Titlicious 2
- Top Guns
- unSEXpected
- Web Whore
- WHEN DADDY’S AWAY

Marc Dorcel
- Cathy 40 (Cheating Housewife)
- WIFE NEXT DOOR

Marc Dorcel DBA SBO Pictures, Inc.
- Orgy Anthology

SBO Pictures DBA Vouyer Media
- Jack In Me POV 2

SBO Pictures DBA Wicked Pictures
- Daddy Did The Babysitter
- I Was a Mail Order Bride
- Octomom: Home Alone
- Selfies
- Spacenuts
- Teen Ravers

Metro Media Entertainment
- Cute Little Asses

Millennium TGA, DBA Grooby Productions
- Buddy Wood’s Shemale Bedtime Stories

New Sensations Inc.
- Almost Heaven
- Anal Sex Secrets
- Ashlynn Brooke Is Sexy
- Big Bang Theory A XXX Parody
- Big Girls Are Sexy #3
- Double D Vixens
- Friends A Xxx Parody
- I Can’t Believe I’m Doing This (Zeina Heart)
- I Love Asians 11
- I Love Asians 5
- Redheads Are Sexy #5
- Sexy Student Bodies`
- WKRP in Cincinnati: A XXX Parody
- Young Girls With Big Tits 10

Patrick Collins Inc., DBA Elegant Angel
- Alexis Texas Is Buttwoman
- Big Wet Asses #3
- Big Wet Asses #6
- Big Wet Asses #7
- Big Wet Asses 16
- Cuties 4
- It’s A Daddy Thing!
- It’s A Secretary Thing!
- It’s A Secretary Thing! 2
- Massive Facials 5
- Performers Of The Year 2014
- Real Female Orgasms 10
- The A Line
- The Bombshells 5
- The Greatest Squirters Ever! 4

Pleasure Productions Inc.
- Wild Honey 2 (Tera Patrick)

RLD Distribution LLC
- Girls Of Red Light District – Sasha Grey
- I Bang Teens (Megan Salinas)
- White Dicks Black Chicks

Second Phase Distribution Inc.
- Big Butt All Stars – Crystal Clear
- Mama Turned Me Out 3
- Mama Turned Me Out 4
- Mama Turned Me Out 5
- Pigtail Virgins

Third Degree Films, Inc.
- Big Boob Orgy 2
- Curve Appeal
- Illegal Ass 2
- Laid In Lingerie 2
- Laid in Lingerie 3
- Spunk’d 7
- Spunk’d 8
- Top Ten 2

Vivid Entertainment LLC
- Farrah 2 Backdoor and More
- Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom
- Kim Kardashian Superstar
- Raven Alexis Unleashed
- Raylene’s Dirty Work
- Tera, Tera, Tera (Tera Patrick)
- Tila Tequila Backdoored and Squirting
- Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to the G-Spot

White Ghetto Films Inc.
- Group Sex Junkies

Zero Tolerance Entertainment
- Dr. Ava’s Guide to Sensual BDSM For Couples
- Is Your Mother Home?

Now obviously you will notice a common theme along each of these copyright holders, and that is the “genre” of content they all produce. You will also notice that in this list there are “copyright trolls,” (meaning, companies who in the past have used or use the federal courts to sue individual downloaders for copyright infringement) and there are “not” copyright trolls (meaning, companies who have NOT sued defendants for copyright infringement). You can see which are copyright trolls by either searching the web for their name, or doing a search on http://www.rfcexpress.com to see whether they have sued in federal court.

A few things to note.

1) Many of the larger companies have multiple websites, and do business as multiple entities. For example, Froytal Services Ltd. “does business as” (“DBA”) Mofos and Brazzers (corresponding to their Mofos.com and Brazzers.com websites).

2) Many copyright holders are OLDER COMPANIES and FAMILY OPERATED BUSINESSES. This means that it is common to have former porn companies hire CEG TEK to track and send letters for “vintage” films from the 1970′s and 1980′s. The copyrights for these films ARE STILL IN EFFECT, and the former owners of those companies are now elder individuals who are now enforcing their copyrights from FORTY YEARS AGO. On the flip side, many older couples have been caught downloading a film from their youth thinking that since the titles were so old, it was probably legal to do so.

In sum, all I ask of everyone is to understand that the bittorrent networks are no longer safe, and when you download something, assume someone else is watching you. And, be aware that there are companies out there like Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK Int’l) who are waiting to send you a settlement demand letter.

Read Full Post »

As we near the end of 2013, I expect to see “2013 Year in Review” articles. I decline to write my own here, but it has been a very busy, work-intensive year. I would compare it to using nothing but strength and muscle to push metal against a spinning wheel with the result of seeing sparks flying.

Prenda is dead. Or, is it. Lawyers spent most of the year enjoying the exposure of Prenda Law, Inc.’s failings (or more accurately, “fallings”) where their scams and schemes became unraveled over and over again for all to see. Judges called them on their bluff, brought the principals into court, and ordered them to pay large sums of money. Yet, what was actually paid (and what will actually be paid) is still hidden from our eyes. My guess is that they’ll pay something, but compared to the millions they raked in since 2010, it will only be a tiny fraction of their windfall profits.

It is my opinion that what undid them was greed. Had they continued to sue defendants en masse, and had they continued to “name and serve” defendants and move forward with the lawsuits in good faith (if there ever was good faith), they may still be in business. Thankfully, where there is “rolling in dough,” there is also born greed and corruption. AF Holdings was born, the “Alan Cooper” alter-ego was invented, papers were forged, settlement money was sent offshore to various entities, honeypots were discovered (where it was discovered that Prenda Law Inc. was seeding the pornography they later sued on), and so-called paralegals became the named “owners” of the entities who were suing to enforce their copyrights. If all this (and getting caught) was not enough, they threw their own local counsel attorneys “under the bus,” they sued the internet and bloggers for defamation, and they started a war with the internet service providers (ISPs) and Cable Companies, a fight they could not have won. Why they went after the ISPs, nobody will know, but in my opinion, this was their mistake.

But this article is not only about Prenda, or the Steele|Hansmeier gang, or the Mark Lutz characters of the world (or their many life-altering experiences over the year), but it is also about what has been happening outside the federal courts (“out-of-court”).

A year ago, I wrote a few articles about Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK), a brainchild of Ira Siegel. After his experiences in the Northern District of California, followed by the experiences of his local counsel Mike Meier, Marvin Cable, and for a time, Terik Hashmi, their cases went silent in the federal courts. No new cases were filed, and for a time, all we saw were dismissals of our law firm’s clients.  Then, tens of thousands of so-called “DMCA Letters” began pouring out from various ISPs directing accused internet users to their copyrightsettlements.com website (no link, this is on purpose) to entangle themselves in their settlement system.

There was a moment where I thought the “Six Strikes System” would kill CEG-TEK’s business model because the ISPs would no longer forward their “pay us now or else we will sue you” scare letters, and by depriving the copyright enforcement companies of their ability to contact accused internet downloaders in their homes and out-of-court (without the supervision of a federal judge), this would cause CEG-TEK and their ilk to go out of business, but this was a disappointment.

The “Six Strikes System” ended up being a dud. It only applied to a few of the “elite” ISPs, and those ISPs used the Six Strikes System to demand large sums of money from the copyright owners and sent the notices to their subscribers anyway, but only a truncated version of CEG-TEK’S “scare” letter. Comcast, case in point. I watched as a fight broke out between Comcast and CEG-TEK, where Comcast only forwarded a snippet of CEG-TEK’s letter, but still directed users to their CopyrightSettlements.com website so that the settlements can continue. Then in other letters, they botched the CEG-TEK settlement link alltogether, and then, did not include the link [in their letters] at all. (And, just for “me too” news as of today, “Johnny-come-late” to the game, RightsCorpis reported by Torrentfreak to have experienced the same thing).

In sum, the Six Strikes System did not kill CEG-TEK as I thought it would, nor did it hurt the “copyright trolls” or stop them from filing lawsuits. CEG-TEK merely found other ISPs and universities to cooperate with them by forwarding their settlement demand letters to the ISP’s subscribers, and CEG-TEK’s collection attempts have continued unhindered.

Lastly, there has been little slowdown to the copyright infringement lawsuits. As I predicted a few years back (link), the lawsuits merely got smaller and more focused (link). The days of suing 5000 “John Doe” defendants bunched together in one federal lawsuit are over. Similarly, the smaller lawsuits having just a handful of defendants [where the lawsuits are filed in the states in which the defendants live] are also over. Now, the lawsuits are so small and focused that it is common to have only one defendant in a lawsuit, and this has made it impossible for our firm to watch, read, and report on every case that is filed in every jurisdiction.  Then again, it has made it more expensive for the copyright trolls, and (ugh) more scary for the carefully targeted defendant.

In sum, it has been a year of grinding and a year of watching the effects of previous years of work change, alter, and shape the bittorrent lawsuits to the form in which they are today. Congress and lawmakers have been useless in making this copyright trolling phenomenon disappear, as have been the attorney generals and the various state bar ethics boards, who [with some very notable exceptions] have been sitting on their hands. I do not think the copyright troll problem has been solved in any way. Rather, the plaintiff attorneys have gotten smarter, smaller, and more focused.  As a result, they have flown below the radar of those who have the power to stop them. And, while the lawsuits continue, former copyright troll attorneys (Ira Siegel / CEG-TEK) have continued their efforts, just outside of the court’s ability to monitor, sanction, and control their out-of-court settlement activities. And, I need not say this, but many new copyright trolls have popped up based on the lack of legal supervision, and I am concerned to say that I do not see this going away any time soon.

John Steele and his Prenda Law Inc. gang are down. CEG-TEK is thriving. Old copyright trolls such as Lipscomb & Eisenberg, along with their many local counsel across the US [and their lawsuits] are thriving. Other no-name “baby” copyright trolls are growing up and have learned to navigate the broken federal court system. And most important of all, more and more people are getting entangled into their legal spiderweb of extortion, settlement demands, and lawsuits, both in and out of court. This is grim, I know.

But there are still voices out there — SJD’s Fight Copyright Trolls website, DieTrollDie‘s website, along with organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who, [while they have been rightly so enveloped with dealing with privacy issues, government corruption, secret FISA courts, and fighting NSA police-state-like snooping techniques] are still very helpful in the copyright troll lawsuits with their countless efforts to make the problem go away once and for all.

So please allow me to be the first to wish everyone Happy Holidays, a safe winter, and a Happy New Year.

Warm regards,
Rob Cashman

Read Full Post »

I have been fighting with myself trying to determine whether to write this article for a problem with Warner Brothers’ $20 settlement demand letters that they are sending out to accused downloaders of their content. Yet I suspect that this is just the beginning of something larger — I fear that the MPAA might be jumping on board the “DMCA settlement letter” scheme or even worse, starting to sue defendants again en masse for copyright infringement.

Under a company named “Rightscorp, Inc.,” (Website: http://www.DigitalRightsCorp.com) Christopher Sabec is sending out “DMCA Letters” almost copying CEG-TEK’s letters accusing the internet user of copyright infringement and offering to settle the claims for a mere $20.

RightsCorp is representing, however, mega corporations such as Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc. (“Warner Bros.”) on their ABC Family teen shows such as “Pretty Little Liars” (file: “Pretty.Little.Liars.S03E05.HDTV.x264-LOL.mp4″) among other TV shows geared at teenagers who are quite savvy on the internet. The expectation is that not all of the episodes are available on their http://abcfamily.go.com website, and so naturally kids will migrate to the internet and Bittorrent to download the earlier episodes taken down from their websites.

What is bothering me, however, is that the release on their https://secure.digitalrightscorp.com/settle website (pasted below) releases the accused defendant from their claim of copyright infringement for a mere $20, but it has the defendant ADMITTING GUILT to the infringement. Thus, in legal terms, an accused internet user who pays the $20 may be released from liability for THAT instance of infringement, but the next time they catch that user downloading, they can not only sue for the full $150,000 (or ask for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS as a settlement), but in court, they would use the prior settlement as EVIDENCE OF GUILT that the accused defendant habitually downloads copyrighted videos and TV shows.

To be clear: EVERY settlement agreement for copyright infringement should have language stating that the accused defendant is not admitting guilt, or else the act of settling a copyright infringement claim can be construed as an “admission” of guilt in a court. Specifically, the language (e.g., taken from CEG-TEK’s settlements) would say something like “this Liability Release represents a compromise and that nothing herein is to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of RELEASEE.” This language appears to be purposefully ABSENT from the RightsCorp Settlement Agreements.

For this reason, it is difficult for me to suggest hiring a third party / attorney and paying one of us to anonymously settle a $20 matter, BUT it is my opinion that the RightsCorp settlements are simply dangerous to your legal rights.  Yet the flip side is that Warner Bros. is a MPAA member, and they have unlimited pockets to sue a defendant (they have in the past, and they could again in the future), and that not settling could later result in a second claim against you for a lot more money (it is not unlike them to ask for $20,000 as a settlement for one title).

My ThoughtsI am not sure I would want the MPAA (or any of its members) to have my client’s contact information with what is essentially an “I did it, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, here’s $20″ settlement agreement.  And, if I settled a claim, I would probably do so anonymously and respectfully.  

I would not want to instigate a “David vs. Goliath” fight with Warner Brothers or the MPAA on behalf of my client (who would likely end up being the HARD-WORKING PARENTS of the kid who did the download).  In a court battle, we would have the uneven legal situation [yet again] where the plaintiff copyright troll has unlimited financial and legal resources and the defendant has limited means to even hire an attorney to represent them.

The MPAA has been lying dormant these past three years while the porn companies and their copyright trolls fight out the issues in the various federal courts across the U.S. My suspicion is that they are getting ready to dip their toes back into the water and start suing internet users again. I am suspicious that perhaps this $20 scheme is just their way to start getting names and contact information to gear up to sue “repeat offenders” who have already settled one of their claims. And for $20, it appears to me that this will be an easy way to lure defendants into giving over their contact information to be solicited later for something else.

Here is a sample copy of their release (noting that the “no admission of guilt” language is missing):

WB Sample Settlement Agreement
Liability Release & Settlement Receipt

IMPORTANT: Please retain this document for your records. It releases you from liability for the below mentioned infringement and serves as official notice of settlement.

Reference # TC-4ab****************************

Title Pr*******************

Filename Pr********************

Timestamp 2013-06***********

Infringement Source Torrent

Infringers IP Address 61*************

Infringers Port 4****

In consideration of the settlement payment made and the representations and agreements made in this Release & Settlement, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (“WB”) for itself, for its past, present and future directors, shareholders, members, managers, officers, employees, agents, attorneys, representatives, partners, trustees, beneficiaries, family members, heirs, subsidiaries and affiliates, and for its and their predecessors, successors and assigns (collectively the “Releasor”);

Hereby finally, unconditionally, irrevocably and absolutely releases, acquits, remises and forever discharges robert steele, 3100 donald douglas loop n santa monica CA, 90405 and such person’s family members and heirs (collectively the “Releasee”);

From any and all manner of actions, suits, debts, sums of money, interest owed, charges, damages, judgments, executions, obligations, costs, expenses, fees (including attorneys’ fees and court costs), claims, demands, causes of action and liabilities, that arise under the United States Copyright Act, in each case whether known or unknown, absolute or contingent, matured or unmatured, presently existing or hereafter discovered, at law, in equity or otherwise, that the Releasor may now have or that might subsequently accrue against the Releasee arising out of or connected with the specific Infringement of copyrighted material(s) referenced above;

Provided however, that this release shall not, and shall not be deemed to, constitute a release with respect to any other past, present or future infringements by Releasee other than the specific Infringement of copyrighted material(s) referenced above.

Robert Steele agrees not to infringe any of WB’s filmed entertainment (including but not limited to films, videos, video games, animation and television programs), whether now in existence or later created, that is owned or controlled by WB. In furtherance of this agreement, Robert Steele agrees to immediately and permanently cease the unauthorized copying and/or distribution (including, but not limited to, downloading, uploading, filesharing, file “swapping,” or other similar activities) of WB filmed entertainment, including, but not limited to, those items listed in this correspondence.

Settlement Date 2013-06**********

Transaction Id 102**************

Settlement Amount ***

If you have any questions about this release, please contact rsteele@digitalrightscorp.com

6/21 UPDATE: I have been seeing lawsuits filed by Warner Bros Home Entertainment Inc. v. “named defendant” et al. I have provided a screenshot below from the http://www.rfcexpress.com website. After a quick investigation, these lawsuits are NOT RELATED to what I am referring to in this article.  Yet, it is still concerning that Warner Bros. is taking such an enthusiastic interest in the federal court system for copyright infringement lawsuits.
062113 Warner Bros Lawsuits

Read Full Post »

Back in November 2012, I wrote an article about CEG-TEK’s CopyrightSettlements.com web site “crashes” where following a failed settlement transaction (purposeful or not), accused infringers received letters essentially saying, “[B]ecause you have decided not to settle, we will be moving forward against you in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Please pay us $3,500 or else we will sue you.” These letters were apparently sent from Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK), a software brainchild of Ira Siegel.

Now it appears that CEG-TEK is “stepping up” their game again, and more letters are being sent out, but this time from CEG-TEK’s local counsel, Marvin Cable. What is particularly concerning is that this letter appears to be sent out to:

1) ANYONE WHO CALLED IN TO CEG-TEK, BUT DID NOT SETTLE (they are scouring the CALLER-ID RECORDS and matching them with publicly available contact information), and

2) ANYONE WHO ENTERED THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION ON THEIR WEBSITE (e.g., to process their credit card payment), but the website “crashed,”

3) ANYONE WHO LEFT “BREADCRUMBS” WHEN INTERACTING WITH THEM, BUT DID NOT SETTLE.

NOTE: I have personally heard reports of 1) and 2), but 3) is a catchall for items I have not yet heard about, but expect that they are doing.

In sum, as I suspected when the Six Strikes System was put into place, with the big ISPs no longer forwarding their “$200 per title” settlement letters, their settlement stream of cash has started to run dry. As such, their production studio clients are forcing them to do whatever they can to “monetize” their clients IP (here, scrubbing the voicemail records, the caller ID records, and website tracking records, and putting names to those traces left by accused internet users), or else sue. In order to keep these clients, we see examples of letters such as this one:

Just to be clear, for a long time, when people ask “Should I settle or ignore CEG-TEK’s DMCA letters? What are my chances of being sued if I ignore?” I have been telling people that they could do either, and I laid out the factors to consider.  I am still of this opinion, namely that 1) Neither Ira Siegel, Terik Hashmi, Marvin Cable, or Mike Meier have sued anyone in MANY MONTHS (since July, 2012 to be exact), and 2) the purpose of their CopyrightSettlements.com website was to convince production companies that it is easier for them to sign on with CEG-TEK and run a settlement “IP monetization” campaign, rather than to sue everyone in a copyright infringement lawsuit.  I assume they are still trying to salvage this system, especially with the renewed efforts to find those who have not settled.

And as always, if you haven’t read my previous articles on the topic, I am still getting reports of website transactions not working (website “crashes,” failed transactions), and so once again, be smart and protect your contact information. Know that when you visit a website, unless you are using Tor or you subscribe to a private VPN, you share with that website your IP address, and when you call Copyright Enforcement Group’s phone number to inquire about your matter, you leak your phone number which can easily be cross-referenced back to you.

In other words, be careful with your information, and the “breadcrumbs” you leave when you conduct your daily life.  These breadcrumbs can be traced back to you, and next thing you know, you’ll be on the phone with me asking how to defend a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against you and 200 other Doe Defendants.

Read Full Post »

As you can see, I am taking some time educating individuals involved in the Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK) / Ira Siegel DMCA letters being sent to thousands of individuals across the U.S. by their http://www.CopyrightSettlements.com system.

As a recap, anyone involved in receiving such a letter should read the following three articles I have written on their tactics:
1. Why CEG-TEK’s DMCA settlement system will FAIL (2/22/2013)

2. When CEG-TEK’s DMCA notices contain duplicate titles. Purposeful luring of defendants or not? (11/26/2012)

3. The trouble with Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK)’s DMCA scare letters. (11/2/2012)

Now, as far as the topic of this blog entry, the question people often ask is “what are the risks that CEG-TEK or Ira Siegel will sue me if I don’t settle?”  

While the easy answer is that so far it appears as if they are NOT suing (remember, they are soliciting their clients under the premise that they’ll make more money by making use of their DMCA settlement system rather than by suing), that answer needs to be elaborated.  I hope you will forgive me saving time in answering this way, but I have laid out my answer below in the form of an e-mail I sent to one of the individuals who called me for assistance.

LETTER SENT TO CLIENT:

It is good to hear from you. Just to reiterate, the “case” numbers are not actual lawsuits (at least not yet). If you did not settle by their due dates, their threat is that they would file a lawsuit against you [likely for only one of the titles; knowing them, in order to maximize their return, they would reserve the other titles for separate lawsuits]. Also, my opinion is that the lawsuit would be filed in the Northern District of California (where Ira Siegel is), or the Southern District of New York (where Mike Meier is). Even though you live here in [LOCATION REDACTED] and [COURT REDACTED] would be the proper location for a lawsuit, by filing in the wrong location, they know by doing so they would push you to settle rather than hire an attorney (someone like me) to fight the jurisdiction issue on your behalf.

So far as we discussed, their lawsuits are few and far in between. In fact, up until a week or so ago, I was ambivalent whether a client ignores the letter or settles it (see below article link for what has changed). If you want to see what they are doing lawsuit-wise, you’ll find them by looking for the words “Digital Sin” or any of their other clients on the http://www.rfcexpress.com website. Alternatively, you can search for “Mike Meier” since he seems to be their top guy as far as skill in suing defendants aside from Ira Siegel himself.

It is my opinion that they are not in the habit of suing at this point, which means they are trying to “milk” the settlements for all they are worth. However, they do have three (3) years from the alleged date of infringement to sue, so if you didn’t settle, you’ll be looking over your shoulder waiting for them to have a bad day when they decide to press the button and sue everyone.

I wrote an article yesterday on my http://torrentlawyer.wordpress.com website which should answer your questions as to the factors influencing the odds of whether they’ll be suing defendants in the near future, or whether they would wait the full three-years to sue everyone at once.

Once again, it drives me nuts when attorneys try to scare defendants into settling their cases.  With these DMCA “scare” letters, I am merely stating the obvious paths CEG-TEK and their attorneys can take.

For me, I think Ira Siegel and the Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK) would like to avoid suing defendants.  It didn’t seem that profitable for them the first time around, and it took incredible resources to maintain their copyright infringement lawsuits prior to the creation of their out-of-court turn-key settlement system. Then again, they are IP enforcement companies who are serving the needs of their production company clients (the copyright holders), and if the clients pay them to use their CopyrightSettlements.com system and send DMCA letters to the ISPs, they send the letters.  If the clients instruct them to sue, they sue. It is my understanding that they dislike the other copyright trolls, and that they compete for business (e.g., the production companies). Thus, if their settlement system dries up as I believe it inevitably will, they will do anything not to lose their clients to the likes of Lipscomb, Steele, or the other less credible trolls out there.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 113 other followers