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
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.