Morgan Pietz, one of the lawyers who wrapped “copyright troll” Prenda Law in judicial red tape is targeting Rightscorp saying the outfit made illegal, harassing robo-calls to his clients, who were accused of illegal downloading. The lawsuit says that Rightscorp broke the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 1991 law which limits how automated calling devices can be used.
Under the suit, Pietz claims that Rghtscorp was a “debt collector” but made harassing phone calls and didn’t abide by federal or California debt collection laws. Rightscorp company managers, including CEO Christopher Sabec and COO Robert Steele, and Rightscorp’s clients are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Violations of federal debt collection laws can result in damages of $1,000 and include provisions for paying lawyers’ fees in successful cases. TCPA violations can cost $500 per incident, and that can be tripled if the violations were wilful.
Pietz says he doesn’t know how many violations have occurred. But he says just one of his named plaintiffs was subject to enough illegal phone calls to add up to tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
One victim, Jeanie Reif, had her mobile phone called every day for a couple of months, Pietz said. And there could be thousands of members of this class.
If a judge agrees with Pietz that the phone calls were harassing and illegal, Rightscorp could be on the hook for many millions of dollars and that could send it under. The company has lost $6.5 million since its inception in 2011.
If it goes under the enforcement company’s marquee music clients, who include BMG Rights Management and Warner Brothers could end up having to pay up.