Tag Archives: Rightscorp should I pay

All I know about Rightscorp in One Page

RIGHTSCORP THEN AND NOW

Rightscorp Inc. has always been the bastard child of the RIAA. Backed by the RIAA, Rightscorp Inc. uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to send DMCA copyright notices to the accused music downloaders. Rightscorp has been known to strongarm the ISPs and force them to identify the account holders who allegedly downloaded copyrighted titles belonging to Rightscorp Inc. clients.  Then, they forward these accused downloaders multiple settlement demand notices threatening that they will be sued for $150,000 per instance of copyright infringement unless they pay a measly sum of $20-$75 per instance of infringement.

RIGHTSCORP WAS THE GIANT THAT WOKE UP IN 2013

Rightscorp Inc. came on my radar in June of 2013, where I wrote the article, “RIAA Giant Waking Up and Luring Defendants into Settlements.” At the time I wrote that article, I was spending a considerable amount of time helping clients who received similar notices for adult films they allegedly downloaded, but through Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK), another copyright monetization outfit.  Because there was confusion between CEG-TEK and Rightscorp, I wrote an article explaining the differences between them.

Rightscorp Inc. DMCA Letters ‘Smelled’ Like a Trap

Knowing the DMCA rules and the ways copyright holders enforced them, something ‘smelled wrong’ with the Rightscorp Inc. letters. The Rightscorp Inc. company (a.k.a., “Digital Rights Corp”) itself seemed legitimate, but the way they handled their DMCA notices caused me to think that they were up to a scam. I sensed that the $20 settlement letters (recently increased to $75 per title) were a trap, and I recommended that recipients of those letters ignore them. Here is what I wrote in 2013 on the topic:

“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.”

Rightscorp Inc. DMCA Settlement Notices Ended Up Being A Trap

I worried that a client who settled a Rightscorp Inc. copyright infringement notice subjected himself to future claims of copyright infringements. Every settlement was an admission of guilt, and it turned out that Rightscorp Inc. sent many follow-up DMCA notices to the individual who paid their “friendly” $20 fee.

Pay One Notice, Receive Twenty More

Those who paid the DMCA settlement notices on their own often ended up calling me when they received twenty more DMCA settlement notices. For a while, I thought that this was part of their elaborate plan of eliciting hundreds of dollars from each defendant rather than a one-time payment of $20. Unlike CEG-TEK, who at the time would list all of the alleged claims against a particular user in real time (based on the IP addresses they allegedly used to download the copyrighted content), Rightscorp Inc. asked for one settlement at a time, and when you settled one, there was often another one right behind it.

The Rightscorp scam in my opinion did not start until Rightscorp Inc. started to ask its users for settlements in the thousands of dollars. While the numbers never matched CEG-TEK settlements (where CEG-TEK was asking for $300 per title), Rightscorp settlement numbers often found themselves hovering near the $900-$1,800 range.

Settling ONE Instance Of Infringement vs. Settling All Past Downloads of a Title

The reason Rightscorp was able to increase their settlement amounts was because each settlement was for “one instance of copyright infringement,” which means that if a user downloaded the file twice, they had to pay twice. If they left their bittorrent software on overnight, and that bittorrent software seeded 20 copies of a title to 20 downloaders, that accused downloader would be accused of 20 more instances of infringement.

This was very different from CEG-TEK, who allowed their settlements to cover “all past instances of infringement regarding that copyrighted title.”

Rightscorp Inc. Then Used Settlements To Force ISPs To Shut Accounts

Rightscorp then used the admissions of guilt within the settlement agreements to attempt to strongarm the ISPs to shut down their internet accounts.

I always thought this was a petty move. I understood that there were some politicians behind the Digital Rights Corp / Rightscorp entity, and that those politicians had no idea how to run a company (which is why Rightscorp stock has been worth only a few pennies for years now). I also understood that Rightscorp Inc. motives were not [at first] to extort money from the accused downloaders such as a copyright troll would, but rather, they wanted to protect their music labels and stop piracy.

I understand and respect a company who legitimately tries to stop piracy, but Rightscorp Inc. went about it in the wrong way. I always thought that Rightscorp pressuring the ISPs to shut down the internet accounts of those who paid a settlement ransom was vindictive. To me, it just showed the callous disregard for the power Rightscorp wielded like a child who swings a light saber at his infant unsuspecting brother.

Then Rightscorp Inc. Started Robocalling Accused Downloaders

Rightscorp then started ‘robocalling’ accused downloaders. They did it recklessly — again, think of a child whacking his infant brother with a lightsaber — and they broke a whole slew of laws in the process. In addition, they called at all hours of the night, and because the company was in my opinion a ‘headless’ company, meaning that there was nobody to call to complain or help resolve a situation, the Rightscorp harassment issues only got worse. Eventually they were sued in a class action lawsuit and had to pay a hefty settlement for their robocalling shenanigans.

Then Rightscorp Inc. Started Suing Accused Downloaders For $150,000

I must admit, I lost interest in the Rightscorp shenanigans after I noted that their settlement agreements do not protect the legal rights of those who settle because their settlements amounted to admissions of guilt. Thus, when someone asked me “Should I pay Rightscorp Inc.?” my answer was “not without a valid release that doesn’t have you admitting guilt.”

However, there was a point that Rightscorp Inc. started filing copyright infringement lawsuits against accused music downloaders in federal court. Each accused defendant was sued for $150,000 statutory damages for the unlawful download of the various music titles they allegedly downloaded via bittorrent.

Rightscorp defendants deceptively are not told that it is Rightscorp who is suing them.  Rather, they will receive a subpoena relating to some ‘motion to compel’ that they have filed in a federal court.  Their subpoenas force the ISP to hand over account information to a place called “Inquest Resources” at 807 Brazos Street, Suite 805 in Austin, TX.  The subpoenas usually come with a Declaration by Dennis J. Hawk of the Business Law Group under the 17 USC 512(h) statute.

I don’t have much to say here, except that Jordan Rushie was one of the attorneys who was hired by Rightscorp to file the lawsuits. If I was looking for it, the Jordan Rushie connection with Carl Crowell and RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT was something that I did not make until writing “The Great MPAA/RIAA Scheme To Defraud Copyright Law” in March, 2017).

Rightscorp Then. Reckless Copyright Troll.

All I could say about Rightscorp is that is has been a trainwreck. First with the bad settlement agreements. Then with the unruly wielding of power to shut down ISP accounts of infringers. Then the ‘headless’ robocalls. Then the copyright infringement lawsuits. Rightscorp was a reckless copyright troll, and I always sensed that the leadership was delegating orders the management simply could not carry out.  To make matters worse, Rightscorp was in financial ruin (at one point before what appears to have been a ‘cash infusion’ which brought them out of their consistent negative cashflow), and I used to refer to Rightscorp as a “sinking ship.”  As a result, I advised clients to stay far away from them.

Rightscorp Now. Dangerous Copyright Troll

Rightscorp in recent years has become more dangerous.  With CEG-TEK out of the way, they are the only copyright enforcement outfit, and the term “power corrupts” applies here.  As a result, Rightscorp feels justified in increasing their settlement amounts unilaterally.  For too many years, I turned away clients hoping they would simply ignore the DMCA notices, but many got caught in Rightscorp’s web of paying a settlement and then being sucked in deeper and deeper into what I still consider to be a copyright enforcement scam.

In the past year, I have personally taken a number of clients who received Rightscorp’s DMCA notices.  In each case, I needed to negotiate the settlement agreements to prevent my client from admitting guilt, and I needed to negotiate the price to remove many titles that did not belong in a settlement.  Most importantly, I have acted as a shield to my clients to prevent Rightscorp and the underlying copyright holders 1) from contacting my client after a settlement is complete and 2) from seeking additional settlements “for additional titles allegedly downloaded.”  All of this is covered one time in one settlement negotiation.  Lastly, I am more than comfortable telling Rightscorp that my client is not willing to settle (or no longer willing to settle), and that I would be representing them if and when their client files a lawsuit.

Most telling, Rightscorp is now working to pressure accused downloaders to forego hiring an attorney.  Rather, they are trying to force them to accept their boilerplate contract and lure them into settling without an attorney.  Where a settlement with an attorney may cost the client $75/title (again, per title, not “per instance of infringement”), they are trying to lure accused downloaders by offering $20 per title if the accused downloader agrees to pay the settlement without involving an attorney.

I’ve considered sounding the alarm on this, but based on my years of covering Rightscorp and their schemes, most people know to call me if they want me to represent them in a settlement or otherwise.

From the perspective of running our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC, my view of the Rightscorp cases have changed, especially with their most recent push to trick defendants into getting a “discount” for foregoing an attorney.  In the past, we used to decline representing Rightscorp clients because their settlement agreements did not protect the interests of our clients.  However, with their recent push to pull unsuspecting defendants into their scheme (specifically without an attorney), we have lowered our fees to make Rightscorp cases affordable to our clients.

I still believe there is an awkwardness in taking a client to resolve what is presented to them as a $20 problem. When representing a client in a CEG-TEK DMCA settlement demand notice, clients would come with 3-20 notices (and at $300/claim, the settlement asking price was $900-$6,000 before settlement negotiations).  Thus, CEG-TEK was upfront in telling accused downloaders what they wanted from them, and representing a client and having the client pay our fees made sense.

Not so with a Rightscorp accused downloader who received those same 3-20 notices.  At a promoted $20/claim [if the accused downloader foregoes using an attorney to negotiate the claims against them], the settlement asking price appears to be only $60-$400.   The later request for “additional titles downloaded” and whatever else is to follow after the settlement is paid is not immediately apparent to them.  Thus, when representing a Rightscorp client, our fee appears to be disproportionately large to what appears to be only a $20 problem.

For more on this topic, click the “Rightscorp settlement attorney considerations for a set of DMCA notices” article, here.

How To Handle a Rightscorp Notice Today

Rightscorp Inc. is still a failing company (from the point of view of corporate earnings and management). However, from the point of view of an accused downloader of a Jethro Tull music album, or some other piece of music, you must assume that failing to settle could put you at risk of being sued for copyright infringement in federal court. All this being said, when you receive the letter, the Rightscorp problem still small, and can be managed with the assistance of a lawyer (myself or anyone else).

How An Attorney Would Represent You In Resolving Your Rightscorp Matter

[NOTE: For credibility purposes, be aware that since 2013, I recommended that if Rightscorp is unwilling to protect your interests in a settle, do not settle. If you get sued, hire an attorney (again, me, or someone else) because Rightscorp lawsuits likely have the same Guardaley “no evidence” problem I described here). Now that Rightscorp Inc. is trying to convince accused downloaders to forego hiring an attorney, our firm is now actively accepting clients to handle Rightscorp cases.]

Here is why to retain a lawyer, and what we would do for you.  (Below, when I speak of “you,” I am speaking in a general way. I do not become your attorney (nor should this be considered legal advice) until we sign a contract together.)

Next Step: Schedule a Consultation

Follow the three steps below to begin working with a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney:

1. Schedule a phone appointment to speak to a defense attorney about your matter.

2. Get, sign, and return retainer agreement.

3. Sit back, relax, and let us work on your behalf to get you the results you need.

After scheduling your appointment online, you will be contacted by phone at the specified date and time by a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney.

Discuss your Rightscorp Case With a Cashman Law Firm Attorney

Anonymous Settlement

Remember, when you receive the DMCA notice from your internet provider, you are anonymous, AND YOU SHOULD STAY THAT WAY. Rightscorp has enough of a history to have me recommend that every client of mine who settles does so ANONYMOUSLY.

Stop Rightscorp From Sending Additional DMCA Notices After a Settlement

There should be a legal barrier between you and Rightscorp, and hiring an attorney and having me put them on notice that I am representing your account stops them from contacting you in the future. Also, any future communications (or additional DMCA notices) should come through me, as I am the attorney representing you. By having me represent you, we ‘discourage’ Rightscorp or their clients from sending any additional DMCA notices after a settlement is complete. Rather, we ask them to research to see whether there are any outstanding titles claimed against you, and we would include them in the settlement negotiations.

Negotiate the Settlement, Facilitate the Anonymous Payment

You would have me review and negotiate the claims with Rightscorp. When they agree to lower the price to something you are comfortable paying, I would facilitate the settlement to make it an ANONYMOUS SETTLEMENT.

Review Release of Liability

This is an obvious step to be done before we pay the settlement on your behalf. I am giving this section its own heading because sometimes, custom terms need to be inserted into the Rightscorp agreements to protect a client’s interests. This would be part of the settlement negotiations (above).

Handle Any Follow-Up Communications From Rightscorp

This last step happens after the settlement is complete, and we do not charge our clients for this. When we settle the claims, we settle them as an “Anonymous Client” of the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC (using our law firm’s address and e-mail). That way, they have our information on file should they have any follow-up questions.

After a settlement is complete, in the past, Rightscorp has been known to send additional DMCA notices asking for more money. With our clients, this has not been the case because we ask them to include all claims in the settlement negotiations we do on our client’s behalf. However, should Rightscorp have a question about a settlement, or should a new matter occur, we will speak to them and handle any needed follow-up communications on your behalf, even after we have closed your file. Should any communication occur relating to a matter we have already settled anonymously on your behalf, I will be sure to let you know.

Next Step: Schedule a Consultation

Follow the three steps below to begin working with a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney:

1. Schedule a phone appointment to speak to a defense attorney about your matter.

2. Get, sign, and return retainer agreement.

3. Sit back, relax, and let us work on your behalf to get you the results you need.

After scheduling your appointment online, you will be contacted by phone at the specified date and time by a Cashman Law Firm, PLLC attorney.

Discuss your Rightscorp Case With a Cashman Law Firm Attorney

*QUICK UPDATE (7/2017)*: I have created a short Rightscorp FAQ page on my Cashman Law Firm, PLLC website which gives a short overview of the Rightscorp problem.


FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about Rightscorp DMCA letter or subpoena, click here.  Lastly, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected], or call or SMS 713-364-3476 to speak to me now about your case (I do prefer you read the articles first), or to get your questions answered.

CONTACT FORM: Alternatively, sometimes people just like to contact me using one of these forms.  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.