If CEG-TEK were a stone, I deeply analyzed every facet of it. I knew every client of theirs. I knew what business connections they had, how they acquired them, and which ISPs they were working with. I knew which of their principles answered the phones, and at what times. I knew what problems they were working on internally, and what business ventures they were working on externally. But then in August of 2016, they took a step back and stopped sending DMCA letters to ISP subscribers accusing them of copyright infringement.
I thought this was a win, namely, that there was one fewer copyright enforcement agency out there actively sending settlement demand letters and threats to sue for copyright infringement in federal court.
Before CEG-TEK stopped going after downloaders, there were rumblings of what was to come. …What they would and would not do, and as far as I understood, their success was causing their business model to fail. Around the same time, there was a huge opportunity missed for Keith Lipscomb to partner with CEG-TEK (consider this lucky timing based on him getting sued by his Malibu Media, LLC client), because if the relationship between Lipscomb and Malibu Media, LLC had not soured around the same time as CEG-TEK began to shift their client base and restructure the operations of the company, Lipscomb might have proposed a partnership and CEG-TEK might have agreed to it.
For those of you are newcomers because you received a notice or a letter forwarded to you from your ISP based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) statutes, Lipscomb used to be the mastermind behind each and every Malibu Media, LLC (adult film-based pornography lawsuit) and through his local attorneys across the US, he filed thousands of copyright infringement lawsuits against John Doe Defendants, initially asking for $20,000+ in settlement amounts from each defendant. Do the math.
If Lipscomb corrupted CEG-TEK’s Copyright Enforcement system, instead of asking for a mere $300 per title for the bittorrent download of one copyrighted title, Lipscomb would have employed Malibu Media, LLC’s strategy of “catch one torrent click, sue for 60+ titles which were all downloadable by clicking that one bittorrent file.” In other words, we would have seen settlement amounts of $18,000 ($300/title x 60 titles) per accused downloader.
But that didn’t happen, or so I thought…
HAS “RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT” BECOME THE NEW CEG-TEK?
Come now, a new entity dressed in new clothes, but one that still ‘walks and quacks’ like CEG-TEK did. This new entity named “RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT” (or, “RIGHTSENFORCEMENT”) appears to have gotten access (legally, illegally) to CEG-TEK’s proprietary systems and mechanisms and they started sending DMCA settlement demand letters directly to ISP subscribers, just as CEG-TEK did. They appear to be tracking and sending these notices the same way CEG-TEK did. They are asking for $300 per title as a settlement, just as CEG-TEK did. But the RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT name doesn’t carry the same history as does the CEG-TEK name, which caused me to write almost FIVE YEARS of blog entries on them.
A few weeks ago, I started to notice that people were finding my older website articles using the names of CEG-TEK’s old clients, as I outlined in CEG-TEK’s Client List (posted in 2014). I saw Google Searches such as looking for DMCA notices surrounding adult film companies such as Brazzers, Girlfriends Films, Reality Kings, Wicked Pictures (all CEG-TEK clients), just to name a few. I did not think anything about this until in the past few days, people started visiting my CEG-TEK articles. Again, I didn’t think much about it until the visits to the CEG-TEK articles started to spike in the last day or so, and this morning, I wrote a blog entry in alarm, asking why everyone was suddenly visiting articles on CEG-TEK, a sleeping entity?
I have to thank Sophisticated Jane Doe (“SJD”) of FightCopyrightTrolls.com for the tip-off. I am posting her comment in its entirety, and I do encourage her to write more about it. While I could answer a number of her questions about the mechanisms of how CEG-TEK did their tracking, and how their systems worked, SJD has pieced together who the entities are behind the scenes.
Crowell was cozying with Siegel since last summer. “London Has Fallen,” used for shakedown by both the Guardaley network and Siegel, was a test drive for something new IMO. This “new” is a new CEG-TEK-like outfit created and run by Crowell in December. Check it out. The letters are already being sent out. I wanted to write a post (and maybe I will) about these developments, but has been busy recently.
I don’t know who harvests IP addresses and have no idea to what extent Siegel and Crowell work together, if at all, but my gut feeling: they do.
The gravity of this news is that Crowell & Co have something that neither Rightscorp nor CEG-TEK had: credibility of threats to sue. As a result of non-paying to this new shakedown factory, at least one lawsuit was already filed (can’t locate it for the moment, but the complaint explicitly mentioned that the defendant was given opportunity to pay small ransom, but skipped).
Funnily, Crowell wrote about it anonymously yesterday, as if he didn’t know.
“RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT” IS NOT CEG-TEK
So what do we have now? We appear to have a new copyright enforcement entity called “Rights Enforcement” which acts as if it is CEG-TEK, just in new clothes. Aside from the fact that this name (RIGHTSENFORCEMENT) is impossible to search for in a Google Search (ingenious). Aside from the fact that it is next to impossible to bring scrutiny to Rights Enforcement’s practices because the name is so generic. And, aside from the fact that “rightsenforcement.com” is just as confusing to look at as “iwenttothestoreyesterdaytobuysomedaisies.com”… I believe what is going on.
CEG-TEK WOULDN’T SUE. RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT UNDER OWNERSHIP / MANAGEMENT OF ATTORNEY CARL CROWELL WILL SUE.
A big complaint the principles at CEG-TEK used to have is that they would ask for $300/title and threaten to sue if this amount was not paid, but when that notice was ignored, nobody at CEG-TEK filed any lawsuits. I would even say that Ira Siegel was averse to filing lawsuits, as we know that he used to file copyright infringement lawsuits, and then after having Siegel had a number of bad experiences with the California federal courts inquiring about his settlement rates, he dropped all of his lawsuits and went on to help form Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK).
However, RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT is run not by Ira Siegel, but by Carl Crowell. Putting aside everything that has been written about him on the other bittorrent-based blogs, one thing that you as a recipient of the DMCA letter must know is that Carl Crowell files lawsuits in federal courts, justified or not. This means that if a settlement is not reached, he will file copyright infringement lawsuits against individual John Doe Defendants, and instead of asking for $300 for one title (or whatever he is asking for in the DMCA notices), he will file a copyright infringement lawsuit for $150,000 for the infringement (unlawful download, upload, etc) for ONE copyrighted movie.
So in sum, as far as I understand it, RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT is a reverse-engineered copy of CEG-TEK, but with teeth and a salivating desire to sue accused downloaders who do not settle.
FOLLOW-UP NOTE (FOR ACCURACY PURPOSES): RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT, especially with litigious attorney Carl Crowell is certainly a threat to anyone who received a DMCA letter from their ISP. Why? Because whoever represents a client in a settlement MUST be prepared to also be able to fight Carl Crowell in the federal courts. It appears as if they have somehow acquired, or even reverse engineered CEG-TEK’s DMCA copyright infringement notice system (I have already contacted a number of individuals at CEG-TEK trying to ascertain who RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT is).
Either way, based on the way they appear to be structured, I believe that we’ll be able to settle these cases using the same methodologies as we did the CEG-TEK cases (keeping the accused downloader ANONYMOUS), but with a caveat that we did not need to give our CEG-TEK clients — these guys are a different breed of attorneys than CEG-TEK, and they come to the negotiations with a “we’ll take your house” mentality, so aggressive negotiations backed by a willingness to fight or be bullied is the strategy that will need to be used with this new RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT / CEG-TEK clone entity.
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