Complaints To FTC About Rightscorp Detail Robocalls, Harassment And Baseless Threats To Sever Internet Connections

from the you-know,-all-those-things-everyone's-suing-about dept

If these FTC complaints are to be believed, Rightscorp is doing pretty much everything Morgan Pietz's class action lawsuit has accused it of.

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).
Robocalls, baseless threats, seemingly endless harassment, constantly fluctuating "settlement offers"... it's all included in the FTC complaints. (And turned over with extreme expeditiousness by the FTC -- seven days from the point my FOIA request was received.) [Spreadsheet link. Scroll all the way to the right to see complaint details. Also note there are two tabs of complaints.]
Consumer had his internet turned off and he called his service provider and they told him that Digital Rights Corp sent them a warning telling him that they would shut off his internet if he didn’t contact them and he did and they told him that they had 34 counts against him of uploading a children’s song and they told him that it could be $150 thousand dollars per each count and they have admitted that he didn’t do it but he has to pay it because his service was used to do this and he has to pay teh consumer was told if he gave them $500 they would make everything go away. Advised Consumer to call the State Attorney General.

---

Consumer is receiving repeated phone calls from a company claiming to be from Rights Corp and the company claims that the consumer has illegally downloaded music and the company is trying to collect money for the illegal downloads. Consumer states that the company states that the consumer must pay immediately and they tried to obtain a cc number. Consumer states that the company claims that if the consumer does not pay over the phone the amount of the money owed would be mulitplied by 100% and that they would terminate the consumer's internet services.
Every settlement offer looks "reasonable" when compared to maximum statutory infringement damages -- something Rightscorp has no intention of pursuing. As for the claim that the alleged infringer's internet connection could be cut off? It's mostly false. Rightscorp has managed to push around a few small ISPs using its untested theory that the DMCA requires service providers to boot repeat infringers. But at this point, any internet disconnection is a purely voluntary action on the part of the ISP. There's no legal basis for its claims and no court decision that backs its assertions up. And, most importantly, Rightscorp can't actually cut off anyone's internet connection -- at least not on its own. But that doesn't stop it from insinuating that it possesses this power.

How can you tell Rightscorp has far less power than it pretends to have? By how swiftly it resorts to bargaining.
The Digital Rights Corp. has charged us with 216 illegal down loads. They said that 153 sucessfully down loaded. They first wanted us to pay 3,000 dollars. Now everytime we speak to them the amount changes from 3,000, 560.00, 500.00, and the last amount was 390.00.

---

Rightscorp, Inc sent us a letter about 6-24-2014 saying we owe $4,060 for copyright infringments. We called to inquire on this accusation. They stated pay $460 by ~6pm (that day ) or pay the full amount. They also pressed for a credit card number. To this day they have been calling about 3x's a week. (They threaten to cut off our internnet service.)
And how can you tell Rightscorp is nothing more than a troll? Because if you feed it, it comes back for more.
Forwarded by the State of Alabama Office of the Attorney General… Consumer responded to first email and paid $20 for the fee requested. She received 27 more emails each requesting $20… Consumer received another email threatening to shut down her internet service demanding settlement. Consumer states she is now getting phone calls from this company.

---

Digital Rights started annoying robot calls after I made a $20 payment on behalf of a third party to settle an alleged copyright issue. They decided I "owed" them a lot more, $280. I demanded no further calls...They insisted they can call me as much as they want by any means even though I was not actually involved directly with the internet account.(gift,not at my home) They sent a threatening letter and emails, too...

---

I received notification from my internet provider that a report had been made of illegally download. I contacted Charter who offer no assistance they were "only relaying a message" I then contacted the RIGHTSCORP. I was hesitant to give them information but was coerced into giving them our name and phone number. Initially they said they wanted 20.00 or else they would sue us for 150,000.00 dollars. I told them I had checked with the entire family and they did not believe they had downloaded these songs. She , Cecilee, called back and stated the charges were now 180.00.

---

I made a single payment on behalf of my son in law to clear a digital rights claim as I gave him a year internet as a gift. Now they won't stop calling me trying to get more money for more "claims."
Rightscorp apparently deploys two tactics with regularity, both unpleasant: threats and harassment.
Rightscorp sent me a letter for copyright infringement so I called the number on the paper they sent and they said that it carries a fine of $150,000 but if I gave them $20 they would settle it. Now they call me every Monday, Wednesday & Friday and are continuing to send me the same letter.

---

Rights Corp is claiming that I owe them money because they served my internet service provider with a subpoena for my information. They call 3 or 4 times per day in addition to text messaging…

---

This company has been calling my home 3-4 times a day for months, originally threatening me to pay them thousands of dollars or they would sue us. Since the initial call with them, which I refused to comply with, they have called continually, everyday and on weekends, always with a recorded message that I never pick up...
And the company's "collection agents" appear to be disguising the origin of the calls.
False claims of copyright infringement from well-known copyright "troll". Company is California based, but call came from Tennessee.

---


...They are trying to intimidate me into giving them money for nothing by harassing me over the telephone. Most of the telephone calls are not live people, but an automated message that leaves me a voice mail from several different numbers with several different area codes..
I've reached out to Rightscorp to see if it has any comment on the FTC complaints. I'm not holding my breath for an answer, considering much of what's alleged in these complaints is the subject of two class action suits. But what's detailed here is nothing more than pure copyright trolling: baseless threats, harassment, and settlement offers. We've seen this deployed by a fair number of supposed rights enforcement entities and most of those are now languishing. Rightscorp isn't looking too healthy itself.

And the most amazing part is that -- despite two lawsuits centering on this abusive behavior -- it hasn't reined in its collection efforts. Many of the complaints filed with the FTC appeared after Morgan Pietz filed his lawsuit in November of 2014, with the latest listed being March 24, 2015. Apparently, it's just going to keep up its questionable tactics until it's forced to stop, even though there's little indication they've resulted in anything more than a few scattered, small settlements.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 4:26pm

    Why not?

    Apparently, it's just going to keep up its questionable tactics until it's forced to stop, even though there's little indication they've resulted in anything more than a few scattered, small settlements.

    Sure the individual 'settlements' may be small, but if they harass enough people often enough I'm sure they can get at least a decent amount of cash flowing in, and it's not like it costs them anything if they're automating it.

    At worst a judge may tell them to knock it off, in which case they can just ignore him/her and continue on, business as usual, safe in the knowledge that as long as you claim you're acting to 'protect your copyrights' you can get away with almost anything, and no judge will have the guts or power to stop you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2015 @ 5:24pm

    Par for the course.

    Rightscorp has managed to push around a few small ISPs using its untested theory that the DMCA requires service providers to boot repeat infringers. But at this point, any internet disconnection is a purely voluntary action on the part of the ISP.

    I apparently work for one of those ISP's. They gladly forward Rightscorp's letters to their customers and cut off their internet access after so many "complaints". Then they tell the employees to tell complaining customers that they are legally required to do so under the DMCA. But, the management there lies about a lot of other things as well, so this is just kind of par for the course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 5:29pm

      Re: Par for the course.

      I can only guess that either there are no competing ISP's in your area, or you have got to be losing customers at a pretty regular rate if that's any indication of the kind of service customer can expect from the company you work for.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 6:08pm

        Re: Re: Par for the course.

        "I can only guess that either there are no competing ISP's in your area"

        You just described most of the "area" know as the United States of America.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2015 @ 5:35pm

    And according to charlatans like antidirt and Slonecker, this is all "1st Amendment protected", somehow magically.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 16 Apr 2015 @ 6:28pm

    I think the the word "desperate" sums up the current situation for Blightscorp.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 3:40am

    the really sad thing is that when this company gets the chop by the court, all that will happen is another one will fill the void and start the 'rinse, repeat' tactic again. all the time though, those at the heart of this copyright trolling, Hollywood and the rest of the movie, music studios get nothing even said let alone done to them! they are the instigators and until someone with some balls gets to proper grips of this, it will just carry on with only names changed 'to protect the guilty'!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 5:19am

    A more fitting name, rather than Rights Corp, would Wrongs Corp

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 10:18am

    If you ever wondered how trolls abuse the DCMA act, Rightscorp and the torrent trolls are showing us just how easy abusing the DCMA for profit is.

    The fact that the way Rightscorp is getting subpoenas for ISP subscribers via the DCMA which courts have already said was illegal.

    Rightscorp has said they believe the court go it wrong, so they know they are obtaining these subpoenas for ISP subscribers information illegally, but they choose to break the law knowingly in order to trolls for cash.

    Rightscorp is no better than a collection agency, in fact that may be worse, it's like they are dialing for dollars hoping someone, anyone will agree to their shakedown collection methods and give them money to go away which of course they never do.

    Rightscorp is like that family member who you loan money to, and then a day later are back for more and more and more and even though you say "this is the last time" they still try to hit you up for a few more dollars.

    The fact that Rightscorp is manipulating the DCMA process is abusing the telecommunications act and outright misleading people just goes to show you what a scummy operation this is.

    I didnt think there was anyone who could make collection agencies look bad, but we have a new champion in Rightscorp

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 10:18am

    If you ever wondered how trolls abuse the DCMA act, Rightscorp and the torrent trolls are showing us just how easy abusing the DCMA for profit is.

    The fact that the way Rightscorp is getting subpoenas for ISP subscribers via the DCMA which courts have already said was illegal.

    Rightscorp has said they believe the court go it wrong, so they know they are obtaining these subpoenas for ISP subscribers information illegally, but they choose to break the law knowingly in order to trolls for cash.

    Rightscorp is no better than a collection agency, in fact that may be worse, it's like they are dialing for dollars hoping someone, anyone will agree to their shakedown collection methods and give them money to go away which of course they never do.

    Rightscorp is like that family member who you loan money to, and then a day later are back for more and more and more and even though you say "this is the last time" they still try to hit you up for a few more dollars.

    The fact that Rightscorp is manipulating the DCMA process is abusing the telecommunications act and outright misleading people just goes to show you what a scummy operation this is.

    I didnt think there was anyone who could make collection agencies look bad, but we have a new champion in Rightscorp

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 5:04pm

    And people shook their heads and said they would never target people dumb enough to pay them to go the hell away by springing more accusations after they paid once.

    I look forward to someone finding those who had their service terminated and starting a very profitable lawsuit against RightsCorp and the ISPs who refuse to understand the law and are terminating customers on accusations with no force of law behind them. Ignorance of the law should be punishable after all.

    The real pity here is once again the government agencies that are supposed to protect the public are just kicking back and letting citizens get screwed over by private corporations because copyright.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tanner Andrews (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 11:09pm

    The really sad thing is that, assuming you bring FDCPA claims against them, there is probably no way to collect. They'll be out of state, or have no assets other than the questionable receivables.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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