Copyright Law Essentials – Understanding who CEG is.
As we have talked about on many other podcasts and on our Vondran Youtube Legal Channel, copyright holders are out in full force monitoring and protecting their legal rights. They are monitoring peer-to-peer file sharing and sending out infringement letters demanding payment in many cases for what they consider to be “willful” copyright infringement. This blog talks about the Copyright Enforcement Group and how they seek to monetize copyrights for third party rights holders.
Who is CEG?
According to Wikipedia:
“CEG TEK International (formerly Copyright Enforcement Group) is a Los Angeles-based copyright monetization firm. The company also conducts and releases studies about unauthorized distribution of motion pictures, music, and other forms of digital media. CEG TEK International primarily represents motion picture studios, including Nu Image and Millennium Films (ex. “London has Fallen“), and protects their digital content online. The company monitors P2P file sharing. Electronic notices are sent to Internet Service Providers (ISP) and their customers, which offer a release of liability in exchange for a settlement amount. CEG TEK International claims users who pay for their infringement are less likely to share illegal content in future.”
So as you can see, this is a company that helps protect the intellectual property, particularly copyrights of third party content producers. This is an entity that may send you a DMCA notice or infringement letter and seek a payment for illegal downloads or file sharing. This is similar to what the Business Software Alliance (BSA), and Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) do with patrolling and enforcing the rights of software companies and their copyrighted products. To them, they are trying to stop intellectual property theft, and/or software piracy. As they say “you wouldn't just walk into a 7-11 and steal a movie or music CD why do it online.” They want to be paid for their digital goods.
There has been some controversy around their activities with some people calling them “copyright trolls” and other claiming their letters amount to “extortion.” Whatever you want to call them, they are for real and can make your life miserable from a legal standpoint. This is so even where, in some cases, the illegal downloads may have been caused by an unsecured wifi (wireless) system where the IP “subscriber” is not actually the one who downloaded the movie.
Porn Copyright Infringement
Here are some companies that we believe might use CEG for copyright infringement matters (or they may pursue their own claims):
- Devils Film
- Smash Pictures
- Wicked Pictures
- Combat Zone, Inc.
- New Sensations
- 3rd Degree Films
Non-adult porn companies that may use CEG to enforce their rights
- AKM Images (stock photo site)
What to do if you received a notice of copyright infringement from CEG
Here are our general tips when you receive a notice of subpoena from your ISP, or a copyright demand letter:
1. Do not panic. Discuss with a lawyer. We offer a free initial consultation to help you make sense of the demand. In some cases, you may be better to just ignore the letter, in other cases (ex. where you have significant financial resources and assets, the answer is not always as easy).
2. Do not continue downloading or sharing any movies, music, adult porn films, etc online. Stop what you are doing as the infringements could add up (at $150,000 per willfully infringed work under the US federal copyright laws, you have to take this serious).
3. You will need to find out if you have been named as a “DOE” defendant in a federal copyright suit. If so, you will want to get this piece settled and included as part of the release (see their sample liability release below).
4. If you are considering settling, but want to remain anonymous (not giving up your credit card information online), we can be retained to help you make the payment and finalize the settlement agreement. Note: You will want to be careful to make sure the release properly covers you. For example, if you downloaded 100 movies illegally, but the DMCA notice claims you only downloaded 10, there could be a 90 move “gap” that you are technically not being released for, so you want to make sure to have a copyright lawyer negotiate a final binding settlement in some cases, Again, it depends on the case and this is just one issue to bear in mind.
We can help you make the proper determination whether it is worth trying to respond, or file a motion to quash subpoena, or a motion for protective order, or even try to seek an “anonymous” early settlement. There are many factors to consider so call us if you need help. Keep in mind, I have read a report that indicates in some cases if they are able to get your phone number, they may robocall you so you have to bear that in mind.
Here are a few links that may help you perform additional research into your issue. As you will note, it appears some people have success in simply ignoring the letters and they will go away.
- Here is a link to the CEG – TEK International Settlement Release Policy
- CEG going after illegal reposting of photos
- Avvo FAQ
- Another thread on Reddit dealing with handling a CEG-TEK demand letter
This last link is very important because we have seen some of the devastating effects of even being “charged” with piracy in the area of adult pornographic films. This is a highly sensitive area, and we have witnessed the stress and strain it can take on a family when the names of the titles are released. In the event you find it necessary to retain legal counsel, we can help you explore all the angles and help decide what the beset decision is for you and your family.
Contact a DMCA, Software & Copyright Defense Law Firm
Our law firm has helped many other companies fight and defend against claims of federal copyright infringement. We have battled in Federal Courts, for example in the Northern District Court of California, Southern District and have federal experience in the California Central District. We have fought for business owners against software companies and their trade organizations and have defended that can be highly embarrassing and stressful. We offer low flat rate fees for many cases (aside from copyright litigation cases). Call us at (877) 276-5084 to speak with a IP lawyer.