Class Action Filed Against Rightscorp For Shaking Down People With Robocalls
from the heading-down,-down,-down... dept
We’ve written a few times about Rightscorp, the company that has tried to set itself up as a sort of “friendlier” copyright troll, acquiring a bunch of copyrights, sniffing out IP addresses connected to sharing of content associated with that copyright, and then trying to demand payments. The main “difference” with Rightscorp is that it usually demands lower, potentially more palatable sums than traditional copyright trolls, and it’s trying to “partner” with ISPs to send notices on its behalf, rather than suing people. Most ISPs, so far, have refused to do this. And so far, Rightscorp has been something of a joke — thinking it had discovered a subpoena loophole that had been slammed shut by the courts years ago (every few years a new copyright troll thinks it’s found this same loophole) and talking about hijacking browsers. The reality is that it’s a company with a sketchy past that seems to have reverse-mergered itself into being a public company that has seen its stock drop precipitously and still hasn’t shown much ability to actually make any money from shaking down file sharers.
And now, it’s facing a class action lawsuit from Morgan Pietz, the lawyer who was one of the main lawyers who helped unravel and bring down Prenda.
The complaint seeks class damages against Rightscorp for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, California?s Rosenthal Act, and Abuse of Process. The complaint alleges unlawful robo-calls, as well as other unfair debt collection practices, and that Rightscorp has abused the legal process by issuing DMCA Section 512(h) subpoenas that it knew were objectively baseless.
Here’s the same thing in more detail from the legal filing itself:
Rightscorp is regularly engaged in the business of collecting on alleged
obligations of consumers to pay money (i.e., debt collection) for purported copyright
infringement claims, such that it is subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act
(15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.) (?FDCPA?) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (Cal. Civ. Code ?? 1788 et seq.) (?Rosenthal Act?). However,
Rightscorp has repeatedly and systematically failed to comply with the provisions of
the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act. 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).
Further, to identify potential consumers to target, Rightscorp has
willfully misused this Court?s subpoena power by issuing at least 142 special
DMCA subpoenas, per 17 U.S.C. § 512(h), to various Internet Service Providers
(?ISPs?). These subpoenas, which were issued on this Court?s authority, but
procured outside of an adversarial proceeding and without any judicial review, are
so clearly legally invalid as to be a sham and abuse of the legal process. After an
ISP moved to quash one of these 142 subpoenas in the Western District of Texas, on
September 10, 2014, Rightscorp withdrew that subpoena rather than risk judicial
review of its plainly unlawful use of this Court?s subpoena power. See In re
Subpoena Issued to Grande Com?n. Net?s., LLC, W.D. Tx. No. 1:14-mc-00848, ECF
No. 3, 9/10/14; see also id. at ECF No. 1, 9/5/14 (ISP?s motion to quash).
Nevertheless, since then, throughout the later part of September and through until
the filing of this action, Rightscorp has continued to issue dozens of new, legally
invalid DMCA subpoenas on this Court?s authority (see, e.g., In re Subpoena Issued
to US Internet Corp., C.D. Cal. No. 2:14-mc-864-UA, 10/14/14).
Should be an… interesting lawsuit to pay attention to.