Click Official ELI Links
Get Help With Your Extortion Letter | ELI Phone Support | ELI Legal Representation Program
Show your support of the ELI website & ELI Forums through a PayPal Contribution. Thank you for supporting the ongoing fight and reporting of Extortion Settlement Demand Letters.

Author Topic: another copytrack letter  (Read 11976 times)

Tman

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2018, 12:02:03 PM »
I am a citizen born here in the US.

They claimed the use was a violation and I asked them to please explain how they don't see the use of the image as fair use and their first response was that it was "they don't think fair use applies because they see my website as commercial".

I said there are lots of examples of fair use applying to commercial sites and I added that I disagree that the use is commercial pointing out a lack of products I'm selling, no ads, or calls to action, and no reasonable connection between the image or the blog and any commercial activity.   They couldn't come up with anything and pivoted to say that the photographer is German and fair use doesn't apply in Germany.

I should also point out after looking at my emails again that they claim that the image was first detected on my site over 3 years ago.  To me that sounds like it hurts their case because it means they detected it and did nothing for an extended time.

at that point they seemed like the case was getting weaker every email and they said they were going to pass it to their us attorneys.  Months later I get collections attempting to collect (this is days ago).  Nothing is on my credit report though.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2018, 12:07:46 PM by Sman »

Ethan Seven

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2018, 07:34:47 PM »
Copytrack calling it a debt is flat out wrong.  I think Robert is correct, it probably does implicate the FDCPA and whatever state law equivalent exists in your state. 

They cannot touch your credit. 

They are based in Germany and I have not seen any posts about them actually working with a US based law firm, so you probably do not have to worry about being sued, especially since it sounds like they blew the statute of limitations.
Even if I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer.  Copyright matters can have serious consequences.  If you have assets worth protecting, consult a lawyer who is familiar with copyright law and who can review the facts of your case. If you cannot afford one, call your state or county bar association.

DavidVGoliath

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
    • View Profile
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2018, 05:02:00 AM »
Tman, I concur with Ethan Seven's assessment: if Copytrack is a German firm, and the photographer is German, and you have no business interests or any form of residency in Germany... well, there's really no case for them to make. Citing German law to a US citizen is about as valid and useful as a three-dollar bill.

There's an example of how attempts at extraterritorial justice can fail very, very badly. Not that long ago, LucasFilm took designer and propmaker Andrew Ainsworth to court, suing him for breaching their rights.

Back in 1976, Ainsworth was the London, England based creator of the Stormtrooper armour for the first Star Wars films; he sculpted the moulds that would be used to vacuum-form the individual pieces that would form the suit as a whole. Fast-forward to the early 2000's and Ainsworth discovers his orginal moulds, dusts them off, and starts selling sets of Stormtrooper armour to order via his website.

Lucasfilm took exception to this and sued Ainsworth in US federal court, and won a $20M summary judgement since Ainsworth did not defend the case... but Ainsworth's business was solely based in the UK, and he had no residency or other presence in the US, Lucasfilm was quite unable to collect their money. After all, the US civil courts have no real power over non-resident aliens.

The sole remaining option open to Lucasfilm was to sue Ainsworth in his home country - which they did - but, because of the differences between US and UK intellectual property laws, Lucasfilm lost their case, which was ruled on by the Supreme Court in the UK.

Ainsworth still trades to this day, with the sole consequence of his US judgement being that he can't ship his creations to anyone with a US zip code.

If you're interested in a longer read about this specific case, head to https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12910683

Matthew Chan

  • ELI Founder, "Admin-on-Hiatus"
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2763
  • 1st Amendment & Section 230 CDA Advocate
    • View Profile
    • Defiantly
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2018, 04:20:53 PM »
You should absolutely notify the collection agency that this is NOT a debt and the circumstances surrounding this supposed debt.  Further, you should inform them if they do not correct this situation, you will report them under the rules for FDCPA and possibly pursue litigation as allowed in the FDCPA for mischaracterizing a copyright claim as a debt. They are not the same.

It matters whether you intend to get a loan or not. Collection accounts can become a problem because accounts are sold like a commodity. It will make the rounds to different agencies and one day, one will misreport it to your credit report.

There have been been bad actors who got themselves a LOT OF BAD PUBLICITY because they tried to transform non debt claims into debts. It doesn't work that way. If someone tried it with me, it would blow up in their face because FDCPA is very clear in these matters.

A copyright claim is NEVER a debt no matter how many ways they say it is.

You need to stop having conversations and start writing and documenting. Your mistake is you keep speaking to them on the phone when you should be writing your responses. You have clearly inflamed them and they are foolishly lashing out at you in hopes of taking advantage of your lack of knowledge in legal matters.

Copytrack may not give a shit about it because they operate outside the US but the collection agency should care very much because they are in the U.S. and can face unintended consequences.

They sent this to  Recoverable Management Services  out of Columbus OH.  They left me a voicemail and I ignored that and they sent a letter now saying I have 30 days to dispute the debt.  I wonder if I should continue to ignore this as I don't see how they might have a case.

I don't ever plan on getting a loan but I'm not crazy about the idea of the invalid debt on my score either.

Some issues that kind of make it more nuanced:
I also understand that copyright may have a 3 year time limit for them to begin a lawsuit which should have passed as the image was originally published on a blog over 3 year ago.
There is also the fair use issue which I think is strong and Copytrack got pretty disrespectful and vulgar with me over email and I asked them to cease communications which they ignored and I also asked that they don't hire third parties to communicate on their behalf since this is clearly not an example of copyright infringement or I would consider that harassment I also added in that I don't see their case as an attempt to collect a valid debt.  Obviously they ignored that as well.  They are asserting I owe $1500 for a single image and it's an image that is used over 100 times online that the original photographer spent money to distribute publicly on pinterest so that he could attempt to sue people and on pinterest I've seen the image attributed to another photographer who is from the US and not the person they claim took the image.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2018, 04:22:59 PM by Matthew Chan »
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Matthew Chan

  • ELI Founder, "Admin-on-Hiatus"
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2763
  • 1st Amendment & Section 230 CDA Advocate
    • View Profile
    • Defiantly
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2018, 04:28:55 PM »
If it were me, I would tell the to pound sand. German laws don't apply to U.S. citizens who don't live or visit Germany. And if they feel so strongly, they can go waste their money and file a lawsuit in any court against a US citizen living and working in the US to enforce German law. Stop wasting your time arguing with these fools.

Even the copytrack employee agreed it was fair use.  Their argument was that fair use doesn't apply in Germany.
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Matthew Chan

  • ELI Founder, "Admin-on-Hiatus"
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2763
  • 1st Amendment & Section 230 CDA Advocate
    • View Profile
    • Defiantly
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2018, 04:40:09 PM »
Actually, collection agencies can wrongfully tag your credit. Many collection agencies have a mechanism to report collection accounts. Collection agencies are supposed to verify before reporting to credit agencies but that frequently doesn't happen due to intentional or unintentional oversight. It happens a lot with unethical collection agencies.  It happens very frequently, more than you think.

The good news is the credit agencies have been legally spanked over the years to properly comply with certain rules when people report and contest negative entries on their credit report. If one contests a questionable entry by a collection agency, the credit agency is then required to get a response from the collection agent. If they don't respond in a timely or appropriate manner, the entry is automatically removed. Unfortunately, it falls upon the credit holder to know these things and act upon them.

I know of NO ONE besides myself (and I know a wide variety of people of various socio-economic and educational backgrounds in different professions) who regularly pulls and reviews their own credit report and scores on a regular basis.

And most people don't have the first clue to contest an incorrect entry on their credit report even if they were to pull and identify it.

Credit reporting, monitoring, and management is sadly still considered similar to the mystic arts even with the various free resources such as CreditKarma which is freely available to anyone to check on a weekly basis.

Copytrack calling it a debt is flat out wrong.  I think Robert is correct, it probably does implicate the FDCPA and whatever state law equivalent exists in your state. 

They cannot touch your credit. 
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

snookypookums

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2019, 02:39:15 PM »
I too have just received a letter--now the 2nd one. I responded asking them for proof that the owner of the image will actually receive funds, and for proof that they are not just some webcrawler making bank while the actual owners of images (whether infringed or not) are unawares. My case is very similar to Dave101's. Same situation--I found the image on Facebook with a misleading caption, and I decided to share it on my science communication blog explaining why that image was misleading and how it contributes to the ignorance of the masses. Frankly, I didn't know there was some possible "in the public interest" kind of 'defense'. Anyway, I ignored the first email because I was suspicious, but went ahead and removed the blog containing the image altogether (it was from an old business that I haven't practiced in 5 years).  I also wondered if it was possible that some internet co. allegedly based in Germany would have any jurisdiction over me outside of Germany. Got the second email today, to which I replied as I stated above: "Put me in touch with the actual owner of the image, and THEN we'll talk." They can get someone to call all they want--the address and phone number on the page/blog are nearly 5 years old and no longer valid. I guess I'll keep ignoring them and using the advice I see above. If I hadn't forwarded the email on the page to a current email, they would never have reached me. And I'm assuming they're not about to try to get records from my country to find out where I am at present. Very glad to have found this site! I decided to google, "Copytrack scam" and this forum was at the top of the list!

CuFil_Z

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: another copytrack letter
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2019, 08:38:41 PM »
I also got a letter from copytrack for the 2 photos of beaches in my country. I removed the photos from our company website and decided not to reply to any of their complaint letters of copytrack. I got a total of 3 letters. They never received any letter from me. And they eventually stopped.

If it is of help to anyone who got a letter from copytrack, here's a letter I got from a lawyer who specializes in International law>>

>>Hi again! I wanted to let you know I finally caught up with one of the partners in the firm where I work, a guy who has lots of experience with intellectual property law, He said basically the same thing I already told you: The burden is on Copytrack to prove that they own a copyright that you have violated, and if they want to pursue it, they'll have to bring the case in your jurisdiction (meaning the country where you're from). It's anyone's guess as to whether they think it's worth pursuing. The amount of money they're asking from you (read: trying to extort) may be a lot to you, but for a large corporation, it's pocket change.

The guy I talked to also had two additional insights: 1) copyright law is quite strict concerning liability, that is, if Copytrack can prove to a court that they own the copyright and you violated it, then you would have to pay whatever the law says for the violation (this is where you would need to consult a local lawyer, who can tell you what the local law says concerning copyright violation and how much that might cost). However, it is very uncommon in Finland, for example, for a court to award attorney's fees and costs to the winning party. So what I take from this is that if Copytrack takes the trouble to sue in a local court AND they manage to prove all of the above, then you would have to pay damages for the violation, but not necessarily their lawyers fees and costs (if they're threatening you with that).

The second insight I got from the guy I know is this: The more time passes, the less likely Copytrack will take any action. If you decide to simply not respond, they may not carry through on their threats, just because it's a lot of trouble to go through in order to collect what for them is a very small amount of money. You would then have to decide how you feel about not having any closure to the matter.

It does seem quite shady that Copytrack refuses to release the name of the actual copyright owner, or to produce the documentation saying the owner has transferred the copyright to them. That's the first thing they need to  be able to prove their case. Also, the lawyer I talked to has never heard of Copytrack, so I can't tell you what kind of reputation they have. You can decide what to make of that.

In any case, I think the best you can do is consult a local lawyer who can tell you what the penalty for this particular violation is under your country law (and whether it's less than Copytrack is demanding), and then decide which course of action to take.<<

This letter brought light to my situation with Copytrack. I'm guessing, Copytrack can tell if you're a person who would easily take their bait. They must have earned a lot of money from people who responded to their threat. But think about it, why would they spend thousands of dollars to pursue someone and just get a few hundred dollars in return? They will have to spend lawyer's fees. Besides, if Copyright has no office in a concerned country, they will have to send their own people, spend for his airfare, hotel accommodations, and in-country expenses just to pursue "pocket change". Doesn't make sense, does it?

 

Official ELI Help Options
Get Help With Your Extortion Letter | ELI Phone Support Call | ELI Defense Letter Program
Show your support of the ELI website & ELI Forums through a PayPal Contribution. Thank you for supporting the ongoing fight and reporting of Extortion Settlement Demand Letters.