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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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I got an email from charter giving me notice of copyright infringement

Resolved Question:

I got an email from charter giving me notice of copyright infringement via the bittorrent protocol, included with was a detailed list of files that have been allegedly illegaly downloaded. The firm, if you should call it that, seems to be offering a pre-settlement offer, though they do not list the actual offer without me going to their site and inputting a "case number" and password, which to my knowledge are more numerous than just a single case #XXXXX What are my rights, is this a scam, and what should I do? More details included below:

[from the email]

...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 [REDACRED]'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
[REDACTED].

Sincerely,

Dale Spislander
Copyright Enforcement Agent
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 3 years ago.
Hello there:

A lot of companies have become more aggressive with enforcing their protections under the copyright laws and that means going to court. It is not uncommon to start things off with an offer of settlement--basically, a demand of "take our offer, or we will take you to court". It sounds like that is what you are encountering.

If it actually went to court, it's the plaintiff's burden to prove the factuality of the allegations. If the plaintiff wins in court, the judgment can easily be for thousands of dollars (depending on the nature of the violation) and attorney fees may be awarded as well.

I would be very concerned about the legitimacy of any email to the effect. Unless the legitimacy can be verified with certainty, I would definitely not send any money. If you need guidance on that, let me know. If the legitimacy is verified, I would meet with an attorney face-to-face for an hour or so to discuss the strength of the evidence against you and to contact the "copyright enforcement agent" on your behalf to negotiate a settlement.

I hope that this helps you to understand the law in your situation. Let me know if I may be of further assistance. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The infringement has been verified to have taken place, but not by the owner of the internet account (myself), the password XXXXX XXXXX freely to visitors etc. and I if I understand correctly, they can easily subpeona the data records from the ISP via a court order that explicity prove the infringement did indeed take place. My problem is certifying the legitimacy of the site, how can it be determined to be authentic and not some elaborate scheme? Are there gov't agencies that can certify this is not just an elaborate phishing/scam setup?
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 3 years ago.
There is not a government agency that does this, but there are still ways to verify. To start, what is the site?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 3 years ago.
Here's what I can tell you:

they are registered with the California Secretary of State since 2009.

However, they have no listing on calbar.org, and their address and telephone numbers do not correspond with any attorney licensed in the state, leading me to conclude that they do not have any attorneys on staff. They are also not listed with the BBB, but that means very little except that they are small and have had no major problems reported.

So these guys are paying taxes (that is a good sign), but they are probably a very, very small operation. I envision two guys in a 400 sq.ft. office. This is the kind of outfit that I would hire if I had not actual intention of pursuing a claim. Basically, rattle your saber and see what you can get.

I just did a quick search for their business address, and I was close: the office is 200 sq. ft. So it's probably just one guy. In short, I'm not intimidated.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you very much for the review of the business, I appreciate it greatly. As for my next action, should I talk with a lawyer in person, not worry, or contact the website?
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 3 years ago.
I apologize for the slight delay. Thank you for your patience.

I would not contact the website. However, I would meet with an attorney to get an idea of whether you have legal exposure in any other way. One hour should be sufficient.

I hope that this helps.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12237
Experience: Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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Brandon M.
Brandon M.
Attorney at Law
6340 Satisfied Customers
Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.