Rightscorp DMCA settlement demand notices

RIGHTSCORP – FACTS

WHO SENT YOU THE DMCA NOTICE:

RIGHTSCORP
(a.k.a. DIGITAL RIGHTS CORP.)

HOW DID THEY FIND YOU?

RIGHTSCORP (DIGITAL RIGHTS CORP.) IS USES THE “DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT” (“DMCA”) TO FORCE THE INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (“ISPs”) TO FORWARD THEIR INFRINGEMENT NOTICES TO THE ACCOUNT HOLDER WHO WAS ASSIGNED THE IP ADDRESS WHEN THE MUSIC SONG DOWNLOAD(S) OCCURRED.

WHILE SOME ISPs SEND NOTIFICATIONS BY MAIL, MOST FORWARD AN E-MAIL INFORMING THEM OF THE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT AND ATTACH THE DMCA NOTICE PROVIDED TO THEM.

WHO IS RIGHTSCORP?

RIGHTSCORP (A.K.A. DIGITAL RIGHTS CORP.) IS A COPYRIGHT ENFORCEMENT COMPANY WITH APPARENT AFFILIATIONS TO THE RIAA.  THEY ARE HIRED TO ENFORCE THE COPYRIGHT RIGHTS OF VARIOUS MUSIC COMPANIES, MOST NOTABLY SONY AND BMG.

BECAUSE OF THE NUMBER OF ARTISTS UNDER THESE RECORD LABELS, RIGHTSCORP ENFORCES THE RIGHTS OF POSSIBLY THOUSANDS OF MUSIC ARTISTS, AND THEY TRACK THE PIRACY OF THEIR ARTISTS’ SONGS AND ALBUMS OVER THE BITTORRENT AND PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS.

RIGHTSCORP IS NOT THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER, BUT THEY ACT AS AN AUTHORIZED AGENT OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNER TO ENFORCE THEIR CLIENTS’ COPYRIGHT RIGHTS.

WHAT ARE THEY CLAIMING:

THE UNLAWFUL DOWNLOAD OVER TIME OF VARIOUS SONGS AND MUSIC ALBUMS.  ALBUMS AND SONGS ARE DOWNLOADED VIA BITTORRENT.

WHAT DO THEY WANT:

THEIR DMCA SETTLEMENT DEMAND LETTERS INSTRUCT ACCUSED ISP SUBSCRIBERS TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE AND PAY A SETTLEMENT FEE FOR EACH INSTANCE ONE OF THEIR TITLES WERE DOWNLOADED, UPLOADED, OR STREAMED.  THEY ASK FOR $20-$30 FOR EACH INSTANCE OF INFRINGEMENT.

MULTIPLE BITTORRENT DOWNLOADS OF THE SAME SONG (E.G., ORIGINAL SONG, “LIVE” PERFORMANCE, REMIX) ARE CONSIDERED SEPARATE ACTS OF INFRINGEMENT.

ONE DOWNLOAD LEFT SEEDING ON THE BITTORRENT SOFTWARE FOR FIVE DAYS CAN RESULT IN FIVE (5) INFRINGEMENT NOTICES, ONE FOR EACH IP ADDRESS ASSIGNED TO THE ACCOUNT HOLDER.

WILL RIGHTSCORP SUE?

RIGHTSCORP IS GENERALLY NOT KNOWN FOR SUING THOSE WHO DO NOT PAY THEIR SETTLEMENTS, HOWEVER THE RIAA AND/OR THEIR RECORD LABEL CLIENTS DO FILE LAWSUITS IN FEDERAL COURT TO COMPEL THE ISPS TO UNMASK THE IDENTITIES OF THE ACCUSED DOWNLOADERS.

FROM THERE, THEY CONTACT THE ACCUSED DOWNLOADER AND SEEK A SETTLEMENT OF THE CLAIMS AGAINST THEM.

HAVE MUSIC PIRACY LAWSUITS
GONE TO TRIAL?

YES.  MOST PROMINENTLY, SONY BMG MUSIC SUED JOEL TENENBAUM FOR SHARING 30 SONGS ON THE PEER-TO-PEER NETWORK.  THE LOWER COURTS AWARDED A $1.5 MILLION DOLLAR JUDGEMENT, WHICH IN THE END WAS SLASHED TO $675,000 (OR, $22,500 PER SONG).

THIS LAWSUIT WENT ALL THE WAY TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, AND THE SUPREME COURT UPHELD THE $675,000 VERDICT.

THIS CASE IS THE EXAMPLE USED BY COPYRIGHT ENFORCEMENT COMPANIES TO CONVINCE ACCUSED DEFENDANTS TO SETTLE THE CLAIMS AGAINST THEM.

SHOULD I PAY?

RIGHTSCORP (AND THEIR RIAA COUNTERPART) ARE WELL-FUNDED OPPONENTS TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.  CONSIDERING THAT THEIR SETTLEMENT ASKING PRICE IS SO SMALL ($20-$30) [WHEREAS OTHER COPYRIGHT ENFORCEMENT COMPANIES ASK FOR $300-$400 FOR A SIMILAR DMCA NOTICE SETTLEMENT], THE ANSWER IS YES, BUT DO NOT SETTLE ON YOUR OWN.

RIGHTSCORP HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF A NUMBER OF PRACTICES WHICH CAUSE ACCUSED DOWNLOADERS TO PAY CLOSER TO A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS RATHER THAN $20-$30 PER TITLE.  READ THE RIGHTSCORP FAQ ARTICLE, SPECIFICALLY ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED OVER THE PAST SEVEN YEARS, AND THEN CONSIDER HIRING AN ATTORNEY TO NEGOTIATE AND SETTLE THE CLAIMS FOR YOU, EVEN THOUGH AN ATTORNEY WOULD ADD SIGNIFICANTLY TO THE COST OF THE SETTLEMENT.

STRATEGIES:

1) HAVE AN ATTORNEY NEGOTIATE AN ANONYMOUS SETTLEMENT COVERING ALL PAST CLAIMS OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT FOR MUSIC TITLES ALLEGEDLY DOWNLOADED.

SETTLEMENT WILL TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE NUMBER OF TITLES ALLEGEDLY DOWNLOADED, AND HOW FREQUENTLY THE DOWNLOADS OCCURRED.

ABILITY TO PAY IS A RELEVANT FACTOR IN CONSIDERING THE SETTLEMENT AMOUNT.

2) HAVE AN ATTORNEY DRAFT A “NO SETTLEMENT LETTER” ON YOUR BEHALF INFORMING RIGHTSCORP 1) THAT NOBODY IN THE FAMILY WATCHED OR DOWNLOADED THE MUSIC TITLES, AND THAT 2) NO SETTLEMENT WILL BE PAID, PERIOD.

NOTE: A “NO SETTLEMENT LETTER” IS A DISCOUNTED MEANS OF INFORMING THE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY THAT NO SETTLEMENT PAYMENT WILL BE MADE, AND THAT THEIR CHOICE IS EITHER TO FILE A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT, OR LEAVE HIM BE.  BECAUSE THIS IS A DISCOUNTED “BAREBONES” STRATEGY, NO FURTHER COMMUNICATION WILL BE MADE WITH THE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY.

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