RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT and your ISP. RIGHTSENFORCEMENT attorney Carl Crowell has the ISP send DMCA copyright infringement / terms of service abuse letters directly to subscribers asking for settlements.
As I described last year, there are THREE POSSIBLE RELATIONSHIPS between a copyright enforcement company (Carl Crowell’s RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT entity is one such company) and your Internet Provider (“ISP”).
[This article is a continuation of the “WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT” article. It made sense to separate out the topics and keep them short and to the point.]
WHY IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUR ISP AND RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT RELEVANT TO YOU?
RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to send DMCA abuse / copyright infringement violation letters directly to subscribers. This method of contacting a subscriber accused of ‘piracy’ directly avoids the need to file a lawsuit and pay a $400 filing fee to uncover the identity of the accused downloader. Instead, the copyright holder can simply send a notice saying “you were downloading our movie, cut it out or we can sue you” as a mechanism to stop the alleged piracy with minimal fees charged to both the copyright holder policing his copyright, and to the ISP (who gets to avoid complying with costly subpoenas forced upon them by judges in federal copyright infringement lawsuits).
The DMCA is supposed to be the best solution, but copyright enforcement companies have found ways to misuse these DMCA notices. Instead of telling the user to “cut it out,” they claim that unless they settle the claims against them and pay the copyright holder money via their website, the copyright holder will file a lawsuit against them for $150,000 under the copyright infringement statutes.
If you received a DMCA notice from RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT, chances are they are asking you for multiple thousands of dollars for infringement of their titles, priced at $300 per instance of infringement.
WHAT ARE THE THREE RELATIONSHIP TYPES BETWEEN A COPYRIGHT ENFORCEMENT COMPANY AND THE ISP?
There are three types of relationships between a company such as RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT and your ISP. I am only listing them in summary form because I have already written about this topic in depth here. The reason I am rehashing this topic is because RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT is an “evil twin” of what CEG-TEK is, and thus knowing the character of the attorneys involved, I come to different conclusions here than I did last year when reviewing this same topic when it came to CEG-TEK.
Here are the three types of relationships:
1) A RELATIONSHIP OF FORCE AND THREATS AGAINST THE ISP (where RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT threatens, and the ISP complies),
2) A RELATIONSHIP OF PROFIT FOR BOTH SIDES (where RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT pays, and the ISP cooperates), and
3) A RELATIONSHIP OF PURE MOTIVE (both RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT and the ISP hold hands and cooperate, to “fight piracy”) — UNLIKELY.
Most likely, the relationship between Carl Crowell and the ISPs are 1) a relationship of force, threats, and control.
WHY DO I BELIEVE THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT AND THE ISPs ARE BASED ON FORCE AND THREATS?
There are a number of ISPs on Crowell’s list of ISPs who are explicitly NOT FRIENDLY to companies such as RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT (e.g., COX, Frontier, Hawaiian Telecom, and Windstream).
These ISPs are known for protecting the privacy of their subscribers, and I understand that they were staunchly against CEG-TEK’s attempts to get them ‘on board’ with the 3) RELATIONSHIP OF MOTIVE (“holding hands and cooperating to fight piracy”), and I understand that they were likely not willing to even join them in a 2) RELATIONSHIP OF PROFIT FOR BOTH SITES. They were simply against any participation in the DMCA settlement notice scheme.
However, seeing that these ISPs are working with RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT, I must assume that they have apparently caved in to what I believe are threats of lawsuits by Carl Crowell that if they do not comply and forward the DMCA settlement demand letters to their subscribers accused of downloading Crowell’s titles via bittorrent, he will sue these ISPs and claim they are in violation of the DMCA Safe Harbor rules. COX is already in a similar lawsuit, and it is possible that they may lose based on the current state of the DMCA statues.
SHOULD I CANCEL MY ISP ACCOUNT AFTER RECEIVING A NOTICE FROM RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT?
NO. In the RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT case, it appears to me as if your ISP is being forced to comply with Crowell’s demands. They are possibly just as angry about these DMCA notices as you are.
Many of you will be shocked and upset when you learn that your ISP forwarded the DMCA settlement notice to you, and you will likely call me asking whether you should cancel your ISP.
As a general rule, no, there is no benefit to cancelling your ISP. Emotionally, even if they were not forced to send the DMCA settlement notices to you, they do believe that piracy is bad, and even if they do not believe this, piracy does put a terrible strain on their servers. So they have a financial benefit to cooperating with the copyright holders to stop piracy.
For more details, I invite you to read the article I wrote last year when it was CEG-TEK sending the DMCA notices, not RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT. There, I hashed out the various relationships in a way that you could understand that the ISPs are almost never a partner encouraging this sort of copyright enforcement.
For that reason, it is almost never needed to cancel your ISP because you learned that they forwarded a DMCA notice from a copyright holder.
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