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Cengage Learning Lawsuit

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Rachman01, May 1, 2010.

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  1. Rachman01

    Rachman01 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello, i am new to this forum but i am certain that any of you can help me as i have no knowledge of law or rights. Please be as fair as possible to me, I have a dozen more problems on my plate aside from this. But I have hope that I can come out a bit more educated after this.

    First and foremost, I will start by giving a background of myself.

    I am a 19 year old Sophomore college student studying Electrical Engineering. I am by no means just simply attending. I am here through grants and loans. My parents are both unemployed and are busy trying to provide for my baby brother. If anything i am in debt. The semester started, fees piled up that my aid could not cover. Jobs are extremely difficult to get in the UCF Orlando area. I have no car and no assets for them to even collect. I then turned to copying the PDF from a CD that i had and offering it up for sale. I know this isn't right but I had no other choice but to get money or get late fees accumulated on my account therefore holding my schooling. Ebay took down my posts (many of other people's are still up) and I received a letter from "Cengage Learning" if it's actually them telling me to sign and agree to all these things AND pay $250 as a compensation for my infringement. I have 10 days to do so or they will commence a lawsuit. Now I know that that is not a large sum of money but considering where i am now with a negative sum of money, it might as well be $1000 or whatever. Here's what they said.

    Cengage Learning

    33228 W. 12 Mile Rd.

    P.O. Box 180

    Farmington Hills, MI 48334

    Dear _____:



    Let me introduce myself. I am the Infringement & Anti-Piracy Paralegal for Cengage Learning and I am responsible, along with others, for protecting the copyright interests of our company. Cengage Learning has recently discovered that you are illegally engaged in selling material that infringes Cengage Learning’s copyright through the eBay auction site.



    The eBay user agreement, to which you have agreed, states that you, as a Seller, may not “violate any laws, third party rights, or …policies such as the Prohibited and Restricted Items policies.” Moreover, under the Copyright Act, the owner of the copyright in a work has the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer. 17 U.S.C. §§106(1) and (3). Notwithstanding the law, and your eBay User Agreement, on April 29th you offered for sale illegal copies of the following Cengage Learning product(s):



    Calculus: Early Transcendentals by James Stewart.
    Complete Solution Manual for Calculus: Early Transcendentals by James Stewart.


    Key Legal Principles


    We encourage you to take legal advice at this stage. However, it may be useful to explain certain aspects of copyright law here.



    1. What damages can a court award in a copyright infringement case?





    Cengage Learning regularly registers copyrights in the works it publishes. Accordingly, it may elect to recover in litigation, for each work infringed, either actual damages, or statutory damages of “not less than $750.00 or more than $30,000.00 as the court considers just.” 17 U.S.C.§504(c)(1). This amount may be increased to $150,000.00 per work if the infringement is willful. 17 U.S.C.§504(c)(2). Blatant piracy will almost always be deemed “willful.”



    2. What if I am sued and choose to ignore it?



    If you are sued by Cengage Learning, you will need to hire a lawyer to defend the case, or defend the case yourself. If you do neither, Cengage Learning will ask the court to enter a “default judgment” in the maximum amount of damages allowed by law. Such a judgment would then be enforced against you by, e.g., attaching your bank accounts and other assets.



    3. Who pays attorneys’ fees?



    Under the Copyright Act, the court may, in its discretion, award Cengage Learning its costs and attorney’s fees in bringing this action. 17 U.S.C. §505. See Basic Books, Inc. v Kinko’s Graphics Corp., 758 F. Supp. 1522 (S.D.N.Y. 1991). In all events, you will be liable for your own costs and fees, which conservatively could exceed $40,000.00 through trial, for a case that you will lose.



    Acceptable Resolutions


    Cengage Learning is willing to settle this claim early if we can avoid the inconvenience of a lawsuit. This can be done only if you respond promptly to this letter by agreeing to:



    1. Cease making, distributing, and offering for sale, unauthorized copies of our material;



    2. Destroy any and all illegal copies of our material presently in your possession or control;



    3. Agree that if you infringe upon Cengage Learning’s copyrights in the future, you consent to the entry of damages against you in the amount of $5,000 per copy; and



    4. Pay to Cengage Learning the sum of $400 as compensation for your infringement. Payment must be made in the form of a cashiers check payable to “Cengage Learning.”





    Please sign and return one copy of this letter to my attention at the address below within 10 business days of your receipt thereof, along with the specified payment, as evidence of your agreement to the above. This offer expires after 10 business days, at which time we reserve the right to commence a lawsuit without further notice.

    Then it prompts me to sign.

    This is the first time i've ever had legal problems and I don't know what to do or how to even approach the case. And i KNOW that i can't just write a letter and become vulnerable to whatever they want to get out of me. At least i'm not that dense. This has just added to all the stress I already have.. And it is getting ridiculous. I know i need to take action but is this Legitimate? What do I do? Thank you in advance for reading this and trying to help.
     
  2. jharris352

    jharris352 New Member

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    If you are going to use that logic you might as well have robbed a bank. Stop making excuses for why you did something wrong. You admitted it wasn't right and then made an excuse for it.

    I would offer to do those three things and stop stealing their material because you "had to." You can simply tell them you are a college student who simply doesn't have the money. Tell them you do not admit to doing anything but you are willing to accept their cease and desist letter, you are willing to destroy any materials that you MIGHT have, and that you will agree to a consent punishment if you ever do so again. But you can't pay their attorney $400 or even $250 for the privilege.

    They will most likely take your counter offer and go on to the next person. Learn this cheap lesson. I needed the money, isn't an excuse. Good luck, this will likely be cheap. The next one might not be.
     
    Rachman01 likes this.
  3. Rachman01

    Rachman01 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    thank you, those are very smart words you used.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2010
  4. jessicacollene

    jessicacollene New Member

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    What was the outcome?

    Did cengage drop the case? I am in the same situation.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Take the "letter" as a useless threat.
    No one warns you that you'll be sued.
    Besides, in Florida you are all but judgment proof.
    Delete their letter and do not correspond with them about anything.
    Make no promises and admit to nothing.
    They have no case against you
     
  6. jessicacollene

    jessicacollene New Member

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    I live in NY though.
     
  7. jessicacollene

    jessicacollene New Member

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    Did cengage drop the case? I am in the same situation.
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    They can't sue you in Michigan.
    That is where they are headquartered.
    So, they'd have to sue you in Michigan.
    If I were you, I'd ignore their threats.
    You have little to fear from these scammers and con-artists.
     
  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    There is no case.
    They are sending out useless threats trying to scare you into paying them something.
    Ignore anything they send you.
    They are not a court of law.
    They are blanketing the US with useless letters.
    They're hoping they can scare you into paying them something.
    Don't send them a dime.
    Don't respond to their useless letters.
    Just ignore them.
    They can't touch you, if you do nothing and ignore them!


     
  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The letter was allegedly authored by a paralegal.
    Come on people, don't be so gullible.
    A paralegal isn't even a lawyer.
    A paralegal can't offer settlements for anyone.
    A paralegal can't bring a lawsuit.

    This scam is more bogus that Obama's birth certificate.
    For your own sake, ignore these stupid con-artists!
     
  11. jessicacollene

    jessicacollene New Member

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    Okay one more thing. Yes she is a just a paralegal claiming to offer a settlement to avoid the inconvenience of a lawsuit. But after some research there have been cases where individuals were sued by Cengage for selling solution manuals. Now whether he was contacted before actually being served is not known. He lost the case and had to pay $750 for every manual sold. He sold over 100 copies, however. Nearly not as much as me. Do you think I am worrying too much about this?
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Yes.

    Worrying won't make this disappear.

    Admitting to it, won't help you either.

    If they have a case, make them prove it.

    These are scammers and con-artists.

    They want tribute from you.
     
  13. fredrikklaw

    fredrikklaw Moderator

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    Off with the paralegal's head!

    “So, Mr. Rachman, send us a cashiers check for $250 or we will come all the way from Illinois to Florida and sue you for $400 in the jurisdiction’s Federal court (even though the minimum amount in controversy between citizens of different states should be $75,000) and if we feel like it we may even ask the judge to give us $30,000, or no, make that $150,000. And by the way, by signing this letter, and in the interest of judicial expediency and for your own good, you will also agree to an automatic infringement award in our favor of $50,000 per incident without the need for us to take you to court, so to hell with due process and all that constitutional gobble gook. I am the chief paralegal for this company and the protector of all things infringe-able and by the way, “Blatant Piracy will almost always be deemed Willful Piracy.”

    What? This has got to be a joke; you are not taking this garbage seriously, are you?

    This is a con job; nothing more and nothing less and you should not give it an ounce of credence or worry about it. Since when does a “paralegal” write a cease-and-desist letter? If this individual really is a paralegal and not an online hustler, then he should be reported to Illinois State Bar for practicing law without a license.

    Anyways, here are the tell-tale signs of this letter that makes me think that this is a con job:

    (1) A cease-and-desist letter carrying threats of legal action is not written by a paralegal but by an attorney.

    (2) The letter threatens to commence a Federal copy right infringement action for a grand sum of $400 when Don Juan’s donkey knows that the minimum amount of controversy for a Federal civil case is $75,000.

    (3) The letter tries too hard and gets chummy and warns you about this and that and even tells you what you should do and what could happen if you attorney up or go pro per.

    (4) The letter is a template/sample widely found and available online which this guy just plagiarized and just substituted his own corny info to make it look genuine.

    (5) It is an abomination of legal writing and no lawyer or paralegal would ever writes asinine things like “Blatant Piracy will almost always be deemed Willful Piracy.” If they do, then they should be taken out and shot.

    (6) And perhaps the most telling sign is the fact that payment is to be made in the form of a cashiers-check.

    The real ending of this letter was this but was omitted for good reason: “O.K., I have to go now as I can hear my parole officer coming back in the room; I have to give a urine sample; God, I shouldn’t have smoked the whole 5-gram bag of crack by myself last night. Any ways, thank you for your cooperation and please send me the check within 10 days or I will be forced to write to you again in my capacity as the C.E.O. of Microsoft.

    In a nutshell: foggedabout it; it's just a cheap hustle and do not go signing any letters or remit any $400 check or anything like that. Just relax, take a deep breath and take your ad down from the site.

    fredrikklaw
     
  14. Vitaro

    Vitaro New Member

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    Ignore the Letter at Your Own Peril

    Publishers Settle Unauthorized Copying and Selling Lawsuits Against Two Individuals

    Three leading college textbook publishers, John Wiley & Sons, Cengage Learning and Pearson Education recently announced they have settled pending litigation against two separate defendants engaged in the unauthorized copying, distributing and Internet sale of counterfeit copies of their textbook solutions manuals.

    In settlement of both cases, which were initiated only after the defendants ignored several cease and desist notices by the publishers, the defendants agreed to each pay an undisclosed settlement amount to the publishers, and further agreed to permanently cease and desist from advertising, purchasing, selling or offering to sell plaintiffs' solution manuals, whether online or otherwise.

    "Aside from the blatant copyright infringement and counterfeiting of the publishers' trademarks, the defendants behavior encouraged fraud and promoted academic dishonesty,” said Nancy Wolff, Wolff & Godin, which represented the publishers.
     

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