Rightscorp

Rightscorp is hit with another TCPA lawsuit

Three months ago I wrote about a class action lawsuit against a copyright shakedown company Rightscorp: this case was filed by attorney Morgan Pietz in California. This week Rightscorp, which has been hopelessly struggling to save its floor-hitting stock from being delisted from NASDAQ, was hit with yet another lawsuit, this time in Georgia (Melissa Brown and Ben Jenkins v. Righscorp, Inc. et al, GAMD 15-cv-00012).

Rightscorp

The complaint is short and concentrates on a single deliberate violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act — harassing robocalling and messaging without the recipients’ consent. This is not a class action, and the plaintiffs seek an award of trebled statutory damages ($1,500 per each call). Depending on how many violations the court will find actionable, it may result in a hefty sum. In any case, if the plaintiffs prevail (which is most likely going to happen), this precedent has a potential of opening a floodgate of similar actions: in its latest press release (1/22/2015) the troll claimed that it “closed over 170,000” cases of copyright infringement.” How many of these “closures” are the result of unlawful telephone harassment? Just imagine if every robocall recipient decides that he/she wants a small piece of the Rightscorp’s flesh!

The plaintiffs are represented by Sergei Lemberg.

Updates

2/19/2015

There is one thing that evaded my attention. I tweeted, making fun of the email quoted in the complaint:

Teresa Murphy made an important observation, the point I missed: she noticed that Rightscorp essentially admitted that it records harassing phone calls, which potentially can spell a lot of trouble for the troll (especially in the class action lawsuit mentioned above):

Also, I’m not sure if the quoted email is enough to establish that the recipient agreed that the solicited phone conversation would be recorded (if no consent was later given during the call itself). California is a so-called two-party state, and the recording of a phone conversation without consent may result in penalties:

632. (a) Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, by means of any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

1/8/2016

On 1/4/2016 this case is ended with a whimper — settled. Of course we will likely never know how much Rightscorp coughed up. From Rightsorp’s standpoint it was a sensible outcome: I don’t think it had much chance of success on the merits.

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Discussion

9 responses to ‘Rightscorp is hit with another TCPA lawsuit

  1. Hey SJD
    $1500 per communication multiplied by 25 or more (that’s just e-mails!) is around $40 Grand…not quite the same chump change! (yeah, speculation..the complaint doesn’t give numbers, but…)

    • Good point, I was a bit hasty and didn’t think about it. Obviously, Lemberg asks for $,500 for each violation. I updated the post.

      (I don’t think that emails count, only calls and SMS.)

  2. How can a lawyer for Rightcorp ( company that is not the copyright holder), even file for the information from ISP? Rightscorp is not a law firm, nor are they DMCA agents as represented in the email – they are not asking the ISP’s for take down notices. Don’t the copyright holders have to file with representation for copyright infringement? Why a third party that has no dog in the fight except to make money by the 50/50 split from settlements? I am more and more confused by this…of course IANAL. What gives RIGHTSCORP the right to spy on citizens in all states and Canada without being a registered or licensed investigator in the states or Canada? “Subponeas” from Ca for other states? What happened to jurisdiction?

    • “DMCA Agents”

      I don’t know about others, but without knowing context, that has the sound of “FBI Agents”, “CIA Agents”, etc.

      After all…. the DMCA is Federal Law – and it would make sense the title would appropriately belong to Federal Agents whose primary task is to enforce said Federal Law in a criminal context.

      Are RightsCorp intentionally trying to give a title to their agents so the people they contact mistake them for Law Enforcement Officers?

      • To answer my own question: a little research on the web shows some are using the term to represent those agents of their own companies – usually internet hosting providers – who are registered with the Copyright Office to receive DMCA take down notices from Copyright Holders who are claiming infringment. A listing of such agents can be found here: http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/a_agents.html

        I notice that while others use the term DMCA Agent to represent such corporate representatives- the Government representatives, such as the actual U.S. Copyright Office appears to avoid such a term useage.

        So there’s an alternative: RightsCorp may not be deliberately attempting to mislead their targets into thinking the agents of RightsCorp are potential Federal Law Agents.

        They may instead be attempting to deliberately mislead their targets into thinking their agents represent the agents of the individuals service provider. Are RightsCorp threatening to cut the targets internet access perchance?

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