The people at Video Professor, a mail order company that lures in customers with words like “free” and “trial” and then hits them with $290 in charges, are drifting back to their old habits again. They don’t like it when people accuse them of being a scam, even though they deliberately minimize or leave out altogether the expensive details of their offer, and even though hundreds of people have complained about difficulties getting refunds. This time, the targets are TechCrunch and the Washington Post, but as usual the whole “silence my online critics” strategy has backfired. [More]
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about retailers who hire law firms to engage in something called “civil recovery,” in which alleged shoplifters are harassed into paying thousands of dollars… even if the case against them has been dropped, or the retailer never intended to sue at all.
Snapfish is threatening to delete Jim’s account unless he orders prints within the next 10 days, which is odd because Jim hasn’t uploaded photos to Snapfish. Read their weird threatening sales pitch, after the jump.
The Consumer Law & Policy Blog reports:
Colorado infomercial company Video Professor this week dismissed its lawsuit against 100 anonymous defendants who had posted critical comments about its products and billing practices online. Earlier this month, the company withdrew subpoenas that had sought the identity of anonymous posters on the website infomercialscams.com.
Yay. The bums will always lose, Lebowski. Get a job, sir. Stop pestering people on the internet.
Over at the Consumer Law & Policy blog there is a post about the legal troubles of Justin Leonard, the owner of InfomercialScams.com, a site that posts unedited reviews of various infomercial products.
The teenager who was arrested for filming 20 seconds of Transformers on her Canon Powershot camera (a still camera that takes short movies) has plead guilty to the charges, says Wired’s Threat Level blog.
“If we do not receive acceptable answers, Congress will be forced to act,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee after sending a chiding letter and “survey” to 20 U.S. universities thought to have the “greatest amount of online piracy.”
If an Internet user notified decides not to pay the settlement, the music association will ask the university for its computer logs so it can pursue legal action. University spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said the university would comply with the requests.
Jason, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has written in to share what his school is doing in response to the RIAA P2PLawsuit.com campaign. In this campaign, attorneys for Sony, Universal, EMI, Warner Music Group and more sent letters to several colleges demanding that they be forwarded to students. The letter (PDF) threatens students with a lawsuit and instructs them to identify themselves and pay a settlement to the recording companies via the website P2Plawsuits.com.
Unfortunately for the students who have been targeted (a group that apparently includes both downloaders and sharers), minimum damages that the RIAA can request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is $750 per infringement. For students who have hundreds of songs on their computer, that could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
The RIAA is sending what amounts to a cease and desist letter to 400 college students at 13 universities. The letter encourages students to confess and pay a “settlement” at an RIAA website: P2PLawsuits.com. The website suggests using Mastercard, Visa or Discover to pay your fines.
Debbie Foster was sued by RIAA member company Capitol Records for allegedly sharing copyrighted material on a P2P file sharing network. However, the alleged infringement was apparently committed by someone else with access to her ISP account. Foster had the case dismissed last summer, and as reported by Listening Post earlier this month, was awarded attorney’s fees in excess of $50,000.
The guy at the counter told me that I had to show a driver’s license and major credit card (perfectly reasonable), pay a $10 dollar fee (a bit much, but acceptable) and sign up for their Netflix ripoff, Blockbuster Online. Wait, what? I told him that I didn’t want to sign up for Blockbuster Online, and he refused to let me start a membership without signing up. And of course I couldn’t rent movies without a membership, so I was forced to leave without my movies.
“The RIAA has sent out a letter to the ISPs telling them to stop making mistakes in identifying subscribers, and offering a ‘Pre-Doe settlement option’ — with a discount of ‘$1000 or more’ — to their subscribers, if and only if the ISP agrees to preserve its logs for 180 days. Other interesting points in the letter (PDF): the RIAA will be launching a web site for ‘early settlements,’ http://www.p2plawsuits.com”;
That’s cool, just bypass the legal system with a scary letter and a website. ISPs aren’t going to fall for this, are they? Comcast? Verizon? Are you there? —MEGHANN MARCO