CEG-TEK: What are your financial risks and considerations of ignoring, settling, or being sued for copyright infringement if you live in Canada or Australia?

CEG-TEK NOW WORKING WITH CANADIAN ISPS.

I am not licensed to practice law in Canada, and my knowledge (as far as I am able to share) is limited to U.S. Copyright Law, and the states in which I am licensed.

That being said, I have received more than just a few inquiries from those of you who have received “DMCA Copyright Infringement Notices” from your ISPs in Canada and Australia, and I thought it was time to clarify which ISPs appear to be “working” with Ira Siegel (CEG-TEK), and what their capabilities appear to be.

HOW CAN CEG-TEK SEND OUT LETTERS TO CANADIAN CITIZENS, AND WHICH CANADIAN ISPs APPEAR TO BE WORKING WITH CEG-TEK?

So far, infringement notices began to be sent out to Canadians under a loophole which allowed U.S. copyright holders to send infringement notices to Canadian subscribers.  While many have received these notices, it appears to me that CEG-TEK is focusing on the following ISPs:

Bell Canada
Rogers Communications (a.k.a. Rogers Cable)

Shaw Communications Inc. (a.k.a. Shaw Cablesystems G.P., or “sjrb.ca”)
ACN Canada
Electronic Box Inc.
TELUS Communications Company
Start Communications (a.k.a. “start.ca”)
TekSavvy Solutions Inc.

Now obviously there are others out there, but these seem to be where the focus of the letters seem to be going out.  Also, remember that CEG-TEK spends a large amount of time recruiting ISPs to sign on to their “cause” to eliminate piracy.  I remember how happy they were when in the U.S., they got COX Communications to start working with them.  No doubt, they are working to recruit more and more ISPs every day, and these few ISPs seem to be the Canadian ISPs that CEG-TEK appears to be regularly using to send out the DMCA settlement demand letters.

WHAT DO THE CANADIAN ISPs [WHO WORK WITH CEG-TEK] APPEAR TO BE PROVIDING THEM?

Originally, I expected that because of the Canadian loophole, that CEG-TEK was sending these “blind,” meaning, not knowing who the downloader is.  But, because of recent trends (where CEG-TEK is now picking up “additional cases” which were downloaded by that same user sometimes weeks or months ago), I am now understanding that certain Canadian ISPs (my best guess, Bell Canada, Rogers, Shaw, and possibly the others) are working with CEG-TEK to provide them 1) geolocation data as to where the downloads are taking place, and/or 2) lists of past IP addresses which have been leased to that internet user / subscriber over the past twelve months (or, whatever that ISPs “IP Retention Policy” before they purge the IP address data for older records).

Thus, Canadian CEG-TEK cases are starting to look and act more like U.S. CEG-TEK cases as far as them having the ability to identify who the subscriber is, and CEG-TEK being able to “look back in time” to see what other bittorrent downloads belonging to their many clients [that their bots tracked on the bittorrent networks realtime weeks or even months ago] these subscribers participated in.

WHAT ARE YOUR CONSIDERATIONS AS TO WHETHER TO IGNORE OR SETTLE WHEN YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE U.S.:

If the Canadian accused of downloading copyrighted materials via bittorrent is concerned that maybe they will be named and served as a defendant in a U.S. federal court, and they have a reputation that they must preserve (meaning, they have little-to-no risk tolerance of having their name become associated with being part of a pornography or piracy lawsuit), AND THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER IS A “COPYRIGHT TROLL,” (meaning, they have sued John Doe Defendants in the U.S. courts, or they have made known that they intend to sue defendants who ignore the DMCA copyright infringement letters that are sent to accused internet users), ONLY THEN does it make sense to settle a CEG-TEK claim against you.

Why?  Because as soon as an individual is named and served as a defendant in a U.S. lawsuit, there are many “spiders” and “robots” which comb the U.S. District Court (federal) court cases, and report and index the names of the court cases on the various search engines.  The effect of these “spiders” on a Canadian is that information on the lawsuit gets posted on the internet and remains there forever.  That way, if someone (e.g., an employer, a creditor, or someone who wants to dig up information on a particular person) does an internet search for that person’s name, then that person’s name and his involvement in the lawsuit will show up as one of the top entries on the search engine’s results, along with the case information.

And to make matters worse (which is why I would like to see some discretion on the part of the websites NOT to index the names of defendants in search engine results), even if that accused defendant did not do the download but was merely the account holder when the download allegedly occurred, or EVEN IF THAT DEFENDANT FIGHTS THE CHARGES AND WINS — FOREVER, THAT “NAMED” DEFENDANT WILL HAVE THE FACT THAT THEY WERE IMPLICATED IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT FOR PORNOGRAPHY OR PIRACY will have their reputations tarnished because the lawsuit will show up in the search engine results.

This is the most powerful leverage a copyright holder has over an accused defendant, namely, that even if he fights the case and wins, his reputation will forever be tarnished, and for this reason alone people settle the claims against them, even before there is a lawsuit.  I have spoken to hundreds (if not thousands of accused defendants) over the years, and this is the primary reason people (even those outside of the U.S.) settle.

[Personally, this is why I would like to see the laws changed to make it a crime (or more likely, very heavy civil fines, penalties, or sanctions) to name and serve a defendant without having a higher threshold of evidence (e.g., “clear and convincing” rather than “more likely than not”) that it was them who did the crime they are accused of.  Too many families have had their reputations ruined because some overzealous attorney accused them of a crime they did not commit.]

Because of the leverage a copyright holder yields over an accused defendant that they may sue, this is why I read the press releases and follow the financial lives of many of the copyright holders — so that I can properly predict what they will or will not do in the future.  This is also why I make such a large distinction on this blog and when discussing cases with potential clients of distinguishing those copyright holders who are “copyright trolls” (those who have sued in the past, or are likely to sue in the future) versus those who have not yet sued in the U.S. federal courts, and those who (in my opinion) will never sue.  That way, at least I can properly advise clients as to which copyright holders pose the greatest risks, and which copyright holders they can ignore based on who the copyright holders are, what they have done in the past, and what they have publicly stated (in court cases, motions, press releases, and on website articles) that they will do in the future.

IN SUMMARY:

So for those of you who live in Canada, or Australia, or whatever countries the U.S. copyright holders will go next to enforce their rights, please be level-headed when receiving these infringement notices from CEG-TEK and the like.  Don’t call the copyright holder or CEG-TEK and argue whether you are “guilty” or not, because their job is merely to collect a settlement from you.  Rather, contact an attorney (me, or someone else who knows the operation of CEG-TEK and the tendencies of the specific copyright holder), and determine whether you are dealing with what I refer to as a “copyright troll” or not.  Assess your risks, and proceed accordingly down the “settle” or “ignore” route we discuss on our calls.

Once again, the main consideration as to why people settle is if you have a copyright holder who is a “copyright troll,” and you are concerned that you will be named and served as a defendant in a U.S. lawsuit, and that your involvement in that lawsuit (whether or not you are found guilty) will tarnish your reputation abroad in a search engine when someone searches your name when applying for a job, etc.  Otherwise, learn who your copyright holder is and if there is a low risk of them suing, save your money.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I personally find it silly to see attorneys place disclaimers on website articles, but here it is actually appropriate.  In this article, I am not suggesting that any person ignore a settlement demand letter that is sent to them, nor am I suggesting that they settle the claims against them.  I am also merely stating my thoughts about the likelihood of being sued so that they can evaluate their options and the risks and rewards of each course of action.  These are not legal opinions, nor are they to be considered advice to act upon or not act upon. 

Every person’s situation is different, and every person has a slightly different set of circumstances that can affect whether the best course of action is to ignore, fight, or settle, and every copyright holder similarly makes the same financial risk-reward analysis of whether it makes financial sense to take a particular action.  Often, lawyers take actions which do not make financial sense for an alternative reason, e.g., to get a judgement in a particular location against a poor person, NOT to ever collect that judgement, but as a trophy or a weapon to show the next set of would-be defendants that he is ready, able, and willing to pursue a particular line of attack against them as just as they did to so-and-so.  The opinions stated here are my own calculations based on my own understanding of the circumstances.

[2017 UPDATE: Carl Crowell has created a new entity called RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT which has reverse-engineered CEG-TEK’s proprietary DMCA copyright infringement notice system.  Many of you have visited CEG-TEK links thinking that RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT was CEG-TEK, but really they are an ‘evil twin’ competitor.  Since the two entities operate almost the same way, and since I am getting hits from our site’s analytics that RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT is also sending copyright violation notices to Canadian ISP subscribers as well, this article is relevant.]


CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

15 thoughts on “CEG-TEK: What are your financial risks and considerations of ignoring, settling, or being sued for copyright infringement if you live in Canada or Australia?”

  1. Hey, how do I know if I am being sued? I see all of this stuff about the John Does but I don’t get how John Does are connected to real people and “invited” into a courtroom. Hey, I wouldn’t mind a few words about that. My apologies if you already elaborated and I didn’t read that page. (thanks for all you do.)

    1. No problem, and thank you for your question. When a copyright holder sues a group of defendants, he does not immediately know who they are. He simply knows what IP address they came from, the date/time stamp of when they had that specific IP address, and which ISP that IP address belongs to.

      They file the lawsuit against the unnamed “John Doe” defendants, and the court orders the ISPs to disclose the account information to the copyright holder as to which of their subscribers was assigned that IP address at the date/time specified.

      From there, the ISPs send notices to their subscribers informing them that they are implicated as a particular defendant in a particular lawsuit, and they invite them to contest the ISP handing out their information (e.g., via a “motion to quash” the subpoena). If no motion to quash is filed, the ISPs send over a list to the copyright holder’s attorney identifying each of their account holders who were assigned to the various IP addresses which were identified as being involved in the copying or distribution of the copyright holder’s copyrighted content.

      You can check what your IP address is by visiting a site such as http://my-ip-address.com. There are hundreds of these sites, and usually, your IP address is only leased to you for a certain amount of time (e.g., 24 hours), and then it is assigned to another subscriber, and you are assigned a new IP address lease for another 24 hours, and so on. Some ISPs (e.g., COX Communications) provides “static” IP addresses which do not change.

  2. what if I clicked on of those settlements with my.real in and out the password in like an idiot an I screwed ? I’m from Canada and got a few noticed for settlement on Jan 4 for a movie I didn’t download probably one of the 6 people in my house did but am I screwed? was on a vyprvpn they said when they downloaded it

  3. Hi Sir, how are you? I was reading your article about CEG-TEK and their tactics to scare people. I have a question. In the letter they sent me they stated this;

    “Until this matter is resolved, whether by settlement or otherwise, we require you to accept this as written notice to preserve any and all hard drives or other means of electronic storage used with your above referenced IP address and to take no steps whatsoever to remove, erase, discard, conceal, destroy or delete from any means of electronic storage any evidence of piracy and/or other illegal or unauthorized downloading and distribution of Rights Owner’s Work.”

    They are telling me that I can’t remove or erase any of the content I downloaded from the internet. Is this true, Sir? Because if anyone ended up receiving a letter from them, the instinct would be the removing of whatsoever they downloaded from the the internet. I hope you can give me any advice. Thank you very much!

  4. Hi Sir, how are you? I was reading your article about CEG-TEK and their tactics to scare people. I have a question. In the letter they sent me it stated this;

    “Until this matter is resolved, whether by settlement or otherwise, we require you to accept this as written notice to preserve any and all hard drives or other means of electronic storage used with your above referenced IP address and to take no steps whatsoever to remove, erase, discard, conceal, destroy or delete from any means of electronic storage any evidence of piracy and/or other illegal or unauthorized downloading and distribution of Rights Owner’s Work.”

    They are telling me that I can’t remove or erase any of the content I downloaded from the internet. Is this true, Sir? Because if anyone ended up receiving a letter from them, the instinct would be the removing of whatsoever the downloaded from them. I hope you can give me any advice. Thank you very much!

  5. Hi Sir, how are you? I was reading your article about CEG-TEK and their tactics to scare people. I have a question. In the letter they sent me it stated this;

    “Until this matter is resolved, whether by settlement or otherwise, we require you to accept this as written notice to preserve any and all hard drives or other means of electronic storage used with your above referenced IP address and to take no steps whatsoever to remove, erase, discard, conceal, destroy or delete from any means of electronic storage any evidence of piracy and/or other illegal or unauthorized downloading and distribution of Rights Owner’s Work.”

    They are telling me that I can’t remove or erase any of the content I downloaded from the internet. Is this true, Sir? Because if anyone ended up receiving a letter from them, the instinct would be the removing of whatsoever the downloaded file from the internet. I hope you can give me any advice. Thank you very much!

  6. Hi houstonlawy3r,

    I live in Canada, and I have been sent one of these infringement notices by CEG-TEK. I was then unfortunately dumb enough to call them (at my ISP’s suggestion) to try to clarify the situation (briefly, the accusation is totally baseless); there was no one there to talk to other than the receptionist, but I did end up giving them my name and case number; they haven’t called me back since (this was a couple of days ago). In your experience does them having my name associated with a case number make it more likely that they will pursue legal action?
    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    1. You know it was not the best idea to give them your contact information. It was also not the best idea to call them either because now you have made yourself a target above all of the other HUNDREDS of subscribers who may have been in the same “haystack” as you were. While you were once a “needle” in this haystack, now you are a “flaming needle” because you burned away all the hay exposing to them who you are. This doesn’t mean that you should run to settle the claims against you, nor does it mean that they will sue you in Canada (or in the US, for that matter). Read my article and my thoughts about the topic, and if you want to speak further, I am here.

  7. When the ISP notifies a subscriber that they are implicated is that by registered or certified mail or can it just be an email?

    1. You are asking different questions based on whether you are in Canada or the US. Every location has their own rules as to what makes a copyright infringement notice valid under the DMCA (US), or under the Canadian copyright rules. These differ, and I understand that CEG-TEK’s DMCA letters in Canada are not following the rules. That being said, no ISPs are stopping them, so who cares what the laws say. “The rules and laws be damned when those tasked with enforcing them shirk their responsibilities and do nothing.”

      To answer your question from the US perspective, for copyright infringement lawsuits filed in US federal district courts, the notifications from the ISPs [when they are subpoenaed for the subscriber’s contact information] usually come via certified mail (sometime by FedEx or private courier, even though this costs more).

      For CEG-TEK DMCA notifications (and for other notifications from HBO, Universal Studios, Dish Network, etc.), these come generally through e-mails sent through the ISP’s subpoena / abuse department. So yes, it can just be an e-mail.

      And just for completeness, certain ISPs (e.g., Charter) send postcards telling the subscriber to log into their website and enter a code provided to view cegtek’s DMCA letter.

  8. I was stupid enough to settle with CEG-TEK because I panicked, my settlement was over 1k. Now they have my information, I know I was very stupid for doing so. Is there anyway I can get my money back if I pursue legal action? Also how does this affect me moving forward?

    1. From reading your previous post, you already paid CEG-TEK over $1K for something that you possibly might not have needed to settle in the first place. So no, I wouldn’t worry about it, but I moving forward, I would certainly consider changing how I connect to the internet (e.g., start using a VPN that does not track your internet activities — just search for a Torrentfreak article on Google using the keywords, “torrentfreak secure vpn” — so that you do not receive any other letters from them.

      As for suing CEG-TEK to get your money back, that will cost you way more than $1,000 in legal fees to maybe get your money back, so no, from a financial perspective alone, not a financially sound idea. If it makes you feel any better, CEG-TEK’s website checks to see whether there are any other claims against you before you even logged in the first time. So I wouldn’t be worrying about receiving a “hey sucker, pay these claims too” phone call.

    2. From reading your previous post, since you already paid CEG-TEK over $1K for something that you possibly might not have needed to settle in the first place, you have settled the claims against you.

      So no, I wouldn’t worry about them coming back and asking for more money, but I moving forward, I would certainly consider changing how I connect to the internet (e.g., start using a VPN that does not track your internet activities — just search for a Torrentfreak article on Google using the keywords, “torrentfreak secure vpn” — so that you do not receive any other letters from them.

      As for suing CEG-TEK to get your money back, that will cost you way more than $1,000 in legal fees to maybe get your money back, so no, from a financial perspective alone, not a good idea.

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