Class Action Filed Against Rightscorp For Shaking Down People With Robocalls

from the heading-down,-down,-down... dept

We've written a few times about Rightscorp, the company that has tried to set itself up as a sort of "friendlier" copyright troll, acquiring a bunch of copyrights, sniffing out IP addresses connected to sharing of content associated with that copyright, and then trying to demand payments. The main "difference" with Rightscorp is that it usually demands lower, potentially more palatable sums than traditional copyright trolls, and it's trying to "partner" with ISPs to send notices on its behalf, rather than suing people. Most ISPs, so far, have refused to do this. And so far, Rightscorp has been something of a joke -- thinking it had discovered a subpoena loophole that had been slammed shut by the courts years ago (every few years a new copyright troll thinks it's found this same loophole) and talking about hijacking browsers. The reality is that it's a company with a sketchy past that seems to have reverse-mergered itself into being a public company that has seen its stock drop precipitously and still hasn't shown much ability to actually make any money from shaking down file sharers.

And now, it's facing a class action lawsuit from Morgan Pietz, the lawyer who was one of the main lawyers who helped unravel and bring down Prenda.
The complaint seeks class damages against Rightscorp for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, California’s Rosenthal Act, and Abuse of Process. The complaint alleges unlawful robo-calls, as well as other unfair debt collection practices, and that Rightscorp has abused the legal process by issuing DMCA Section 512(h) subpoenas that it knew were objectively baseless.
Here's the same thing in more detail from the legal filing itself:
Rightscorp is regularly engaged in the business of collecting on alleged obligations of consumers to pay money (i.e., debt collection) for purported copyright infringement claims, such that it is subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.) (“FDCPA”) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1788 et seq.) (“Rosenthal Act”). However, Rightscorp has repeatedly and systematically failed to comply with the provisions of the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act. Among other wrongful conduct: Rightscorp has engaged in telephone harassment and abuse (15 U.S.C. § 1692d); made various false and misleading representations (15 U.S.C. § 1692e); engaged in unfair collections practices (15 U.S.C. § 1692f); failed to provide validation and required notices relating to the debts (15 U.S.C. § 1692g); and furnished emails and letters knowing they would create false beliefs on the parts of consumers that their Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) were participating in the attempt to collect on the purported debts when in fact the ISPs were not participating (15 U.S.C. § 1692f).

Further, to identify potential consumers to target, Rightscorp has willfully misused this Court’s subpoena power by issuing at least 142 special DMCA subpoenas, per 17 U.S.C. § 512(h), to various Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”). These subpoenas, which were issued on this Court’s authority, but procured outside of an adversarial proceeding and without any judicial review, are so clearly legally invalid as to be a sham and abuse of the legal process. After an ISP moved to quash one of these 142 subpoenas in the Western District of Texas, on September 10, 2014, Rightscorp withdrew that subpoena rather than risk judicial review of its plainly unlawful use of this Court’s subpoena power. See In re Subpoena Issued to Grande Com’n. Net’s., LLC, W.D. Tx. No. 1:14-mc-00848, ECF No. 3, 9/10/14; see also id. at ECF No. 1, 9/5/14 (ISP’s motion to quash). Nevertheless, since then, throughout the later part of September and through until the filing of this action, Rightscorp has continued to issue dozens of new, legally invalid DMCA subpoenas on this Court’s authority (see, e.g., In re Subpoena Issued to US Internet Corp., C.D. Cal. No. 2:14-mc-864-UA, 10/14/14).
Should be an... interesting lawsuit to pay attention to.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: copyright trolling, debt collection, lawsuit, robocalls, shakedown
Companies: rightscorp

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)


Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.