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  1. #1
    nba_base is offline Junior Member
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    Should I pay the copyright settlement?

    A private company, copyrightsettlements.com , has recently detected that my laptop was being used to download copyrighted materials using our university server. My university did not disclose my identity to them, but forwarded me their settlement offer of $250.

    While I have no problem with paying this settlement, I find it worrisome that, as of now, copyrightsettlements.com has no awareness of my identity, but if I did pay, then they would know who I am.

    On the other hand, if I do not settle, I can never know when a subpoena might come. What is your advice?

    Thank You
  2. #2
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    don't illegally download copyrighted material
  3. #3
    swalsh411 is offline Senior Member
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    There is no way they could personally identify you without your university's cooperation. They are counting on your ignorance of technolog to fall for this scam. Ignore it. Even if you did pay them you have zero protection from future lawsuits. (assuming that you did illegally download copyrighted content AND your university cooperated).

    Let me guess... they emailed you right? Legitimate legal documents are sent snail mail.
  4. #4
    LTat is offline Junior Member
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    Has anyone ever been sued by these guys?

    I got a similar notice from my ISP. copyrightsettlements.com seems to be a real company, run by something called the "Copyright Enforcement Group". I'm in a similar situation. They don't have any of my identifying info, just my IP address, but if I pay then they'll have my info.

    I'd like to hear from anyone else who has gotten these. Did you ignore it? If so, what happened? I called my ISP and asked them whether I should pay this, or if it was some sort of scam. The only answer they had for me was to seek out some free legal advice.

    As far as the "real legal letters come in snail mail" comment, they can't send me snail mail cuz they don't know who I am. But if they subpoena my ISP they'll find out. Then I could be involved in some huge lawsuit. What a mess.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  5. #5
    davidmcbeth3 is offline Senior Member
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    You can pay if you wish & then you'll likely receive and unlimited number of these requests to settle.

    You going to pay them all? You may get 100 such demand emails.

    nda_base has no problems paying them? Then send them the money. You must be rich.

    Why don't you go and see if they have any cases pending (copyright law is done in federal court only)? I doubt you will find many, if any.

    Email said something like this?




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

    Evidence:
    Infringement Title: xxxxxxxx
    Infringement File Name: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Infringement Hash: xxxxxxxxxxxx
    Infringement File Size: 1468796445 bytes
    Infringement Protocol: BitTorrent
    Infringement Timestamp: 2010-12-27 06:25:23 North American Eastern Time
    Infringers IP Address: xxxxxxxx
    Infringers Port: 57562

    The following files were included in the download:
    File 1: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
    File 2: xxxxxxxxxxxxx


    You are hereby notified that your unauthorized copying and/or distribution infringes the registered copyrights of Third Degree 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 Third Degree.

    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, February 10, 2011 to access the settlement offer and settle online. To access the settlement offer please visit [url=http://www.copyrightsettlements.com/]Copyright Settlements[/url] and enter Case #: xxxxx and Password: xxxxxx. To access the settlement offer directly please visit [url]https://www.copyrightsettlements.com[/url].

    Settlement Information:
    Direct Settlement Link: [url]https://www.copyrightsettlements.com/[/url]
    Settlement Website: [url=http://www.copyrightsettlements.com/]Copyright Settlements[/url]

    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 Third Degree'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 Third Degree.

    Sincerely,

    Dale Spislander
    Copyright Enforcement Agent

    Copyright Enforcement Group, LLC
  6. #6
    LTat is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks David for the reply. Yep that's the exact email. Signed by good old Dale Spislander too. I really don't want to pay it. I'm just really freaking out that if I don't, they'll subpoena my info from my ISP at which point the settlement will go way up.

    Good idea on looking for pending legislation. Where would I begin to look for something like that?
  7. #7
    davidmcbeth3 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LTat View Post
    Thanks David for the reply. Yep that's the exact email. Signed by good old Dale Spislander too. I really don't want to pay it. I'm just really freaking out that if I don't, they'll subpoena my info from my ISP at which point the settlement will go way up.

    Good idea on looking for pending legislation. Where would I begin to look for something like that?
    beats me ... found and pending cases? Go to court's website.... (duh, I guess not yet)
  8. #8
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    here's an article you might find informative.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20020495-261.html
  9. #9
    conquis7ador is offline Junior Member
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    So I'm in this same situation as the OP. My deadline is June 12th, I'm afraid that if I don't pay my ISP, Charter, will give them my info. Should I be worried about this at all? Or should I just pay?
  10. #10
    dog74 is offline Junior Member
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    I got one this past Thursday, for two movies. They want $200 each. Did you guys pay them? I haven't. Has anyone been sued over this or subpeonaed for your information?

    This is like extortion or a new business model for media companies. Any advice would greatly help!
  11. #11
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    There is the potential for being sued over the infringement of the copyrighted material if you do not pay the settlement amount demanded, at which time you could be held liable for damages of between $750 to $30,000 for each work infringed, if the copyrighted material has been registered (or up to $150,000 per infringed work if the infringement is found to be willful).

    Individuals are, in fact, sued and taken to court over the infringement of copyrighted material, and damages awarded by a court to the copyright holder have been high. That said, most lawsuits (of all kinds) will settle prior to any trial.

    What your best course of action is, when receiving a notice that your ISP has been subpoenaed for your identifying information, or when receiving direct notice of copyright infringement by the copyright holder or a firm representing the copyright holder, will vary by circumstances and facts (who owns the works, who is making the demands, if you in fact illegally downloaded the material or otherwise infringed on the rights of the copyright holder...).

    Generally when receiving a notice of copyright infringement, you have the following options:

    1. If you are not already identified and your ISP has been subpoenaed for release of your identifying information, you can move to quash the subpoena in an effort to protect your anonymity (which, if your motion to quash is not denied, can allow you to remain anonymous but will not prevent any suit from going forward against you), or you can let the ISP release your identifying information and the copyright holder can direct a settlement letter to or file suit against an identified-you in your state.

    2. If you have received a settlement notice and you DID infringe on the work, you can pay the settlement amount demanded (or try to negotiate for a lower amount) and the matter should end there. Settlements generally remain confidential - your identifying information will not become part of a public record.

    3. If you have received a settlement notice and you DID infringe on the work, you can ignore the notice, not pay, and hope you are not taken into court, where the damages awarded can be significantly higher than the original amount demanded and where all information becomes a public record. Ignoring the notice and hoping that the copyright holder will forget all about you and your infringement can be a costly risk.

    4. If you have received a settlement notice and you did NOT infringe on the work, you can notify the copyright holder of this fact, demand proof that you infringed (which they won't have if you didn't infringe), hope they don't take you to court anyway.

    5. If you have received a settlement notice and you DID infringe on the work, you can demand proof from the copyright holder that you were the one who infringed, hope they don't have that proof and hope they don't take you to court with that proof.

    6. You can ignore the settlement letter and wait to be sued and then either file a motion to dismiss, or defend against the infringement suit in court - where you will either win the suit or lose the suit based on a preponderance of the evidence. Going to court, regardless of the outcome, will be a costly option (far more costly than paying the original asked-for settlement amount), but if you didn't infringe it may be a reasonable option.


    I recommend that all of you consult with an attorney in your area to review all of the facts specific to each of your particular situations so that you can get advice tailored specifically for you on what the wisest course of action may be.


    As additional information, some of the major Internet Service Providers have been working with the Recording Industry and the Motion Picture Industry on the increasing problem of piracy and the illegal downloading of copyrighted material. It may soon be that an infringer will receive a warning notice from their ISP when the ISP receives notice from a copyright holder of the subscriber's infringement on rights-protected material. The ISP may send one notice, or several, before either cutting bandwidth speed of the subscriber or limiting internet access. The ISP can also decide to terminate the service of those subscribers who continue to infringe. This "plan" (that is still in the working-out stage) is being worked on and supported by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (of which Time Warner, Charter, Comcast and Quest are members), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

    A few more notes:

    There are several recent threads that you should review for more detailed information on copyright infringement suits. All of the threads should have some information that will be useful to you. Use the "Search" feature at the top of the page and type in the keyword box "West Coast Productions," enter the verification code, press enter.

    Start by reading the thread titled "Illegal Downloading." Although the thread is about a West Coast Productions infringement suit filed in a District of Columbia District Court against 5000+ John Does, there are resources provided in that thread that can be helpful to you with your own infringement suits.

    It is important to note that the DC Court decisions are unlike the decisions being made by other courts in other states throughout the country who are handling copyright infringement suits involving a large number of defendants. None of you mentioned whether you were part of a mass "John Doe" defendant action or not - many of the copyright infringement lawsuits being filed right now are against several unnamed defendants.

    It can also be important for you to determine if the person/entity suing you actually has standing to sue (owns the copyright or holds rights in the copyrighted work) and to determine if the copyrighted material has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office (date of registration can determine if statutory damages can be sought). Do some investigation before sending off any money.

    What you decide to do is ultimately up to you. If you did, in fact, illegally download the copyrighted material, settling with the copyright holder for the amount demanded (or trying to negotiate for a lower settlement amount) will often make the most financial sense.

    Good luck to all of you and, in the future, I suggest you take justalayman's advice: "Don't illegally download copyrighted material."
    Last edited by quincy; 06-25-2011 at 11:13 PM.
  12. #12
    sophie6 is offline Junior Member
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    Hello Quincy,

    Your post above is very thorough and helpful but I need one bit of clarification. When you say "If you have received a settlement notice" I'm assuming you refer to the email forwarded from my ISP. Or are you talking about a more official settlement offer, in writing?

    Many sources I've come across indicate that this initial settlement email (which starts with a cease and desist order) requires merely to cease and desist sharing copyrighted materials, and that the offer of a settlement is totally unofficial and something akin to extortion. [url]https://www.eff.org/issues/copyright-trolls[/url]

    In the space of five minutes my ISP forwarded 8 emails from "Copyright Enforcement Group,LLC" demanding $200 each. They were mostly redundant, for only 2 different files. If I were confident that they would reduce it to $200x2 I'd take your advice #2 above, but I've seen people make comments to the tune of "pay them and they'll never leave you alone". I spoke with a lawyer who said to wait until I get something in writing, and that they will negotiate and the amount will not increase, but now that I understand that it will likely require a subpoena for them to send me anything in writing that doesn't make a lot of sense.

    Thanks in advance!
  13. #13
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    Hi, sophie6.

    First I want to say that, although it has become somewhat popular to call these cease and desist letters, settlement notices and infringement suits "extortion," this is how copyright holders enforce their rights in their copyrighted works. It is not extortion.

    If you are being notified by your ISP of a copyright holder's claim of infringement, it means that your identity has not yet been disclosed by your ISP to the copyright holder. For a copyright holder to learn your identity beyond your IP address, the copyright holder must get a court to issue a subpoena to the ISP for the release of your identifying information. Once this is done, the ISP must comply with the court order, and the copyright holder will direct all future communications to you directly.

    You can wait for a suit to be filed against you (as a "John Doe") before responding to any copyright infringement demands, or you can prevent your name from becoming part of a public court record by settling with the copyright holder now. What is best for you is something you should discuss with an attorney in your area, who can personally review the facts of your situation.

    Either way, if you in fact infringed on copyrighted material, I think it is wise to try and negotiate a lower settlement amount, this after making sure that the demands are being made by the actual copyright holder and that the work or works in question have been registered in a proper and timely fashion. I do not think it wise to send off money to anyone just because they claim you infringed on their work. Investigation into their claim is important.

    Good luck.
  14. #14
    sophie6 is offline Junior Member
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    Than you Quincy. Can investigating the copyright claim be as simple searching for the title at:

    cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First


    I'm unable to find the works in question here. One of the films is part of a series, and I am able to find earlier titles in the series, which is giving me some hope. Or is it more complex than this?

    Thanks

    Not sure why url isn't clickable...got to it through "search the catalog" link here:
    [url=http://www.copyright.gov/records/voyager.html#]U.S. Copyright Office - Search Copyright Records[/url]
    Last edited by sophie6; 10-02-2011 at 07:40 PM. Reason: attempting to fix ur.
  15. #15
    idrum88 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by nba_base View Post
    A private company, copyrightsettlements.com , has recently detected that my laptop was being used to download copyrighted materials using our university server. My university did not disclose my identity to them, but forwarded me their settlement offer of $250.

    While I have no problem with paying this settlement, I find it worrisome that, as of now, copyrightsettlements.com has no awareness of my identity, but if I did pay, then they would know who I am.

    On the other hand, if I do not settle, I can never know when a subpoena might come. What is your advice?

    Thank You
    Any update as to what you decided to do? I am in a similar situation and don't feel comfortable paying these fees with so little information

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