Are There More Copyright 'Pre-Settlement' Groups Setting Up Shop In The US?

from the warning-letters dept

We recently covered how a recently created outfit going by the name US Copyright Group, had launched tens of thousands of lawsuits (some of which appear to be quite questionable from a legal standpoint), as part of what appeared to be an attempt at copying the efforts of companies like DigiProtect and ACS:Law in Europe (where such practices have been widely condemned). The lawsuits appear to be a smokescreen to get contact information for people to whom this "company" can send "pre-settlement" letters, in which they're told to pay up to avoid the lawsuit.

Considering that this pseudo-shakedown is apparently lucrative in Europe, perhaps others are preparing to do the same in the US as well. A reader who prefers to remain anonymous, but who works for a small ISP, passed along an email he recently received from what appears to be a newish operation called the Copyright Enforcement Group, whose website has a mock law enforcement shield on it. Like US Copyright Group, it doesn't hide behind any claims of stopping infringing content. It focuses solely on how this is a way to "monetize" infringements. The email also points to a separate site called CopyrightSettlements.com, which makes some interesting claims. This is the website where folks can "pay up," and it promises "you will receive a full release of liability" but also that "Your personal information and settlement terms will be kept confidential." Makes you wonder how the two can go together. If your info is kept secret, what's to keep copyright holders from suing again? And does the company make sure it covers all copyright holders for a piece of content? Will it indemnify users if they're threatened or sued again?

As for the letter to the ISP, it was an "introduction," in an attempt to ask for the ISP's cooperation in identifying its users. As we've seen with US Copyright Group, many ISPs refuse to just hand over names, though some will. Hopefully, most ISPs receiving the following letter know better than to just hand over info without a court order. Here's the relevant part of the email:
CEG provides intellectual property management services to a consortium of studios in the entertainment industry. Our clients have entrusted us with their valuable property and authorized us to bring legal action against those individuals who illegally download and/or distribute their copyrighted materials over the Internet.

CEG's proprietary technology detects infringements which occur over the Internet and gathers sufficient evidence to support a claim of copyright infringement against the infringing party. Once infringement is detected, we follow strict multi-step validation procedures to ensure that all information is accurate before we forward the DMCA notice to you. The infringing party is then afforded with an opportunity to settle the matter for substantially less than what will be offered if a lawsuit is filed or compared to the judgment amount a court may enter against the infringer.

We understand and respect the important role that you play in securing the privacy of your subscriber base. However, we, too, are deeply committed to our clients and will vigorously enforce their intellectual property rights against infringement. We sincerely hope that you will join us in our effort to fight Internet piracy.
Looks like this new form of "monetizing" content is spreading. And not in a good way.

Filed Under: copyright, pre-settlement
Companies: digiprotect, us copyright group


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  1. identicon
    John Doe, 9 Dec 2010 @ 11:17pm

    Got one through abuse@charter (long)

    Without any consideration of my rights to cease and desist, I am told in the following letter that if I don't pre-settle they WILL oh so sternly sue me. I don't know what to do. If it's legit, I'd happily settle if it makes this go away, but I'm afraid they would just keep coming after me anyway. Want this to stop haunting me every day. Considered contacting the FBI to see if this "legal extortion" should just be ignored. They really like to repeat the case # and automatic password links a lot.

    -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
    Hash: SHA1

    ***NOTE TO ISP: PLEASE FORWARD THE ENTIRE NOTICE***
    November 8, 2010
    Re: Notice of Unauthorized Use of Registered Copyrights Owned by Elegant Angel Inc
    Case #: xxxxx

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    This notice is intended solely for the primary Charter Communications internet service account holder. Someone using this account has engaged in the illegal copying and/or distribution of pornographic movies. This notice may contain the titles of those movies, and therefore may contain text that is offensive to some readers.

    Copyright Enforcement Group, LLC, ("We") represent Elegant Angel Inc. Elegant Angel Inc owns all right, title and interest to the registered copyrights listed below.

    Evidence:

    Infringement Title: Curvy Girls 4
    Infringement File Name: Curvy.Girls.4.XXX.DVDRip.XviD-STARLETS
    Infringement Hash: 1ce07840ea42f6113033a3aaa04ad61b5b4fbabe
    Infringement File Size: 1478909170 bytes
    Infringement Protocol: BitTorrent
    Infringement Timestamp: 2010-11-07 14:14:28 North American Eastern Time
    Infringers IP Address: xxxxxx
    Infringers Port: xxxxx

    The following files were included in the download:
    File 1: Curvy.Girls.4.XXX.DVDRip.XviD-STARLETS/CD1/starlets-cg4-cd1.avi
    File 2: Curvy.Girls.4.XXX.DVDRip.XviD-STARLETS/CD2/starlets-cg4-cd2.avi


    You are hereby notified that your unauthorized copying and/or distribution infringes the registered copyrights of Elegant Angel Inc under the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 106. In this regard, demand is hereby made that you and all persons using this account immediately and permanently cease and desist the unauthorized copying and/or distribution of the registered copyrights listed in this notice or otherwise owned by Elegant Angel Inc.

    You may also be held liable for monetary damages, including attorney's fees and court costs if a lawsuit is commenced against you. You have until Thursday, December 23, 2010 to access the settlement offer and settle online. To access the settlement offer please visit http://www.copyrightsettlements.com/ and enter Case #:




    If you fail to respond or settle within the prescribed time period, the claim(s) will be referred to our attorneys for legal action. At that point the original settlement offer will no longer be an option and the amount will increase as a result of us having to involve our attorneys.

    Nothing contained or omitted from this correspondence is, or shall be deemed to be either a full statement of the facts or applicable law, an admission of any fact, or waiver or limitation of any of the Elegant Angel Inc's rights or remedies, all of which are specifically retained and reserved.

    The information in this notice is accurate. We have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of herein is not authorized by the registered copyright owner, its agent, or by operation of law. We swear under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized to act on behalf of Elegant Angel Inc.

    Sincerely,

    Dale Spislander
    Copyright Enforcement Agent

    Copyright Enforcement Group, LLC
    8484 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 220
    Beverly Hills, CA 90211

    Local: (415) 655-4205 Ext. 1
    Toll Free: 877-5-COPYRIGHT (877-526-7974)
    Email: support@copyrightsettlements.com
    Website: www.copyrightsettlements.com




    If you fail to respond or settle within the prescribed time period, the claim(s) will be referred to our attorneys for legal action. At that point the original settlement offer will no longer be an option and the amount will increase as a result of us having to involve our attorneys.

    Nothing contained or omitted from this correspondence is, or shall be deemed to be either a full statement of the facts or applicable law, an admission of any fact, or waiver or limitation of any of the Elegant Angel Inc's rights or remedies, all of which are specifically retained and reserved.

    The information in this notice is accurate. We have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of herein is not authorized by the registered copyright owner, its agent, or by operation of law. We swear under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized to act on behalf of Elegant Angel Inc.

    Sincerely,

    Dale Spislander
    Copyright Enforcement Agent

    Copyright Enforcement Group, LLC
    8484 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 220
    Beverly Hills, CA 90211

    Local: (415) 655-4205 Ext. 1
    Toll Free: 877-5-COPYRIGHT (877-526-7974)
    Email: support@copyrightsettlements.com
    Website: www.copyrightsettlements.com]]>

    - ----End ACNS XML

    This is an automated email. If you have questions or concerns, please visit us at http://www.copyrightsettlements.com/contact_us.html. Replies sent to dmca@copyrightsettlements.com are not read.

    -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
    Version: GnuPG v2.0.16 (FreeBSD)

    iJwEAQECAAYFAkzYeQcACgkQVzNgJiQevV7mSAQAn14TF+4Vj/I04tpggfzJH3Gy
    AaW7YwiXd75SIgZEfaB89iE8WteKJt6+ bJp/+Abzkhej/1JngG/Ev+Qeuc+CoCkG
    resgmKna06w5OLthsXFBnJMzDmGzz/r+n7qzws3WBZSwrsOedGMC14ohAMlRjt7K
    UYJXFv0ihKaVOoWORY8=
    =PxRX
    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

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