I decided to write this post as I’m seeing an increase in questions/comments concerning the copyright monetization firms of CEG-TEK and Rightscorp. I wasn’t sure what was possibly driving this so I did a little research. The first thing I found was a 20 May 14, press release from Rightscorp stating they had added 500K new copyrights to the already 1,000,000 copyrights they represent (Total of 1.5 million copyrights for which they monitor for). There is also a 12 Jun 14, Article on Rightscorp in Inside Counsel. CEG-TEK also appears to be actively recruiting new customers and claimed to be representing approximately 1.47 million copyrights. CEG-TEK even set up a YouTube page and uploaded two promotional videos. While I was writing this, attorney Robert Cashman published a piece on CEG-TEK’s client list. Here is one of the videos – “CEG TEK International P2P Monetization.”
Both companies are very active in recruiting copyright owners, as well as tailoring their services to extract the most settlements as possible. I believe their main selling point is by simply signing with them (no cost or low-cost), the copyright owner/holder can receive revenue that they otherwise would never see. Rightscorp states on its site that they split the settlements with the copyright owner – 50/50. You can see why this business model would find favor with many copyright owners. As most of the infringers CEG-TEK/Rightscorp send notices to have multiple infringements, the settlements amount can add up little by little. As the copyright owners have already done the initial work (and been paid), any settlements are seen as additional profit they never planned for.
These firms do this of course by monitoring the BitTorrent File sharing protocol (Peer to Peer – AKA: P2P), collecting IP addresses of alleged infringers and sending settlement notices via DMCA-emails to the ISP who owns IP addresses.
Rightscorp is even telling people that they have some new tricks up their sleeve. This is from the Inside Counsel article (12 Jun 14). Allegedly they have some “proprietary” method of identifying a user without ISP cooperation. Sounds like a “John Steele” Prenda Law type quote to me.
The ‘seeders’ that Rightscorp is looking for are IP addresses uploading pieces of files through BitTorrent. IP addresses change over time, and that’s where Rightscorp’s trick kicks in. Steele said his company has a proprietary method of identifying particular users, without ISP cooperation, even when IP addresses get rotated over time. Faced with evidence, the ISPs are legally obligated to take action, up to and including cutting off Internet access. Under the DMCA, that’s what those companies must do if they want to keep their “safe harbor” from copyright lawsuits.
Favorite Question Concerning These Companies
Will they sue me if I don’t pay? Based on the history of these two companies and analysis of their Web sites, my opinion is still NO. I have said all along that these companies have a business that expressly steers them away from that. Now saying that, there is always the possibility that a content owner could decide to file a law suit, but I think it is extremely unlikely. Plus take a look at this gem from the Rightscorp Web site – I wonder how long it will be left up on their site after this article posts? ;)
This does not mean you should just ignore the situation completely and not worry what is occurring on your network.
My standard suggestion is to ensure the illegal file sharing stops on your network – regardless of who is at fault. Failure to do this could lead to your ISP limiting/disconnecting your service or even becoming a John Doe defendant in a “real” Federal copyright infringement law suit.
Note: On 14 Jun 14, a person claiming to be Robert Steele, COO, Rightscorp posted to DTD. I doubt it was him, but I could be wrong. If that was you Mr. Steele, please reply. The person claimed -
We send subpoenas every day to infringers who do not respond to the settlement offers. We get ISPs to suspend service to repeat infringers who don’t accept the settlement offers every day. Robert Steele, COO, Rightscorp. 310-751-7510.
I have yet to hear of any court issued subpoena being issued for Rightscorp supported clients. If anyone knows differently, please point me in the right direction. As far as ISP suspending services, that is usually only done for serious offenders after multiple DMCA notices are received by the ISP (each ISP is different).
Link to my CEG-TEK/Rightscorp page.
Lastly, here is what to do if you get a notice from these firms.
- Do not call them – You cannot explain this away – They don’t care
- Do not access their Web site from your ‘True’ IP address (home or cell phone) – If you want to go to their site, use a Proxy, VPN, TOR, or a free WiFi hotspot like a coffee shop. Do not enter any personal data into their Web site.
- Ensure that any illegal file sharing or other unauthorized activity on you network stops.
- Resecure your WiFi Internet connection – make sure encryption is enabled and change the password.
- Move on with your life and chalk this up to a ‘learning experience.’