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Ebay Auctions removed-Law Firm Sent Me A Letter Copyright

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by wdw2011, Jan 31, 2013.

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  1. wdw2011

    wdw2011 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I didn't know which section to put this in so I put it in both.
    I had some items on ebay that I created. These are called vinylmations and are created by Disney. I painted them to look like the characters from the Simpsons. The auctions were pulled from ebay for violating copyright. I will include some pics of the items. So now a law firm from NYC sent me a letter telling me that they represent 20th Century Fox and that I am to send them all of the merchandise, tell them my ebay user i.d. and how much I made from the sell of these items, the it will be determined how much money I need to send them depending on my sales of the items. After the items were pulled I didn't sell them I have them in my possession. So now a lawyer that my wife talked to told me that I need to comply and do all of those things. I have only been sent an e-mail, nothing certified. My concern is giving them my ebay seller id, so know I will be watched on ebay and if I send them the items then they will have proof of them. So if I didn't sell them will I still have to pay? Should I send them this stuff or wait and see what happens?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    ONLY a judge, after a trial, can ORDER you to do anything.

    Your best bet is not respond to them.

    Don't do anything, you aren't required to respond to a letter from anyone.

    Run silent, run deep.
     
  3. wdw2011

    wdw2011 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I have been reading various stories like mine after searching and a lot of people said don't do anything, my wife on the other hand is so worried about all of this, she thinks it could go a step further and a lawsuit being filed.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    They don't want to spend money to sue you to collect a few dollars, assuming they win.

    In order to sue you, they'd have to sue you in your state of residence.

    That costs money.

    So what they sue you?

    But, they won't.

    But, why not accede to their demands and send them a blank check and tell them to write it out for what they THINK you owe?

    They don't want to sue the money out of you, they want to scare the money out of you.

    Don't dance with the devil, he leads, he's clumsy, and he'll feel you up!!!
     
  5. guestpost

    guestpost New Member

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    I sent them an email saying I would send the stuff, then today I got an email saying that to send the merchandise and $325 payable to 20th Century Fox to settle this. So before they wanted to calculate how much I would owe them depending on how much I made off of these, which is nothing because once they were pulled I did not sell them. Now they are saying $325, so should I just ignore it or send the merchandise and the $325?
     
  6. wdw2011

    wdw2011 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    So I sent an email saying I would send the stuff a few days ago, now I get another email saying to send the merchandise and $325. So before they wanted to determine how much I owed, which was nothing because I didn't sell them once they were pulled from ebay, now they have put figure of $325 on it. So should I just wait and see or send the money?
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Why ask what to do, when you had already corresponded with them?

    Heck, go ahead and send them $700, just in case they get the $325 and want more!!!!

    Dude, its a scam.

    Its all over the internet.

    Easy money is what they want.

    Sending out emails is what they do, they don't sue.

    They aren't even in the same state as you.

    Even if they did live in your state, they'd have to sue you in the county where you reside.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  8. wdw2011

    wdw2011 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I know I know, point well taken.
     
  9. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    army judge's post puts it perfectly. Copyright law might entitle these collectors to the amounts of money they are asking, which may be grossly unfair and not representative of the amount of actual damage caused. His point is that just because they are demanding the money - and perhaps they might even be legally entitled to it by statute - does not mean you have to just roll over and abide by their wishes without having your day in court. Have some backbone!

    It frequently goes something like this with regard to "extortion letters" that have become fairly commonplace. Grandma pays the bill for her grandson's website to an offshore website building company. Neither she nor grandson know that these unscrupulous web designers used a stock photo without proper usage rights. In come the collectors to instill major fear in grandma and grandson to either pay a $1,000 usage right plus collection costs or prepare to be destroyed in court. Their goal is to intimidate as many to pay as much as possible without going to court. What do you think would happen if the attorneys sued poor old grandma for thousands of dollars in actual damages, statutory damages, attorneys' fees and court costs - just for using one stock photo image of a dog? Do you think the court is going to award all the money damages asked? The end result is that the prosecution of the alleged infringement isn't worth the time.
     
    wdw2011 and army judge like this.
  10. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Surely you no longer have any of the items and never sold any of it anyway. I guess they were just not popular...
     
  11. Natey

    Natey New Member

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    It does seem very dubious that a real law firm supposedly representing such a large corporation would only request $325, which is more than the hourly rate for many attorneys.
    Has the OP verified that it is really a legitimate law firm in NYC?
    I imagine a legitimate law firm wouldn't try these unofficial mechanisms to request money, but maybe they do?

    Law firms have a vested interest in pursuing official mechanisms (via the court system) to collect, because they can tag on their legal expenses to the original amount, can't they?
     
  12. wdw2011

    wdw2011 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Once the auctions were removed from ebay I did not try to re list them and I have them myself. I have done some research and it is a law firm in NYC, others have gotten the same letters from the same office regarding removed items from ebay.
     
  13. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Not dubious at all. Collection is a machine that is a volume business. The attorneys don't touch it - they hire low cost workers who are paid on a commission. If they get $200 and the cost of the worker plus amounts they refer is $50, the firm is $150 ahead for doing nothing except managing the hiring process of employees and sending out a letter/email which is virtually no cost. A large company I worked for had a very large collections operation that it purchased shortly before I left. I had nothing to do with them but I knew 2 people there and learned a bit about what they did before I departed.
     
  14. wdw2011

    wdw2011 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    And this company that you worked for, what happened when the person the email was sent to, never sent in the money? Did they just move onto the next person? Was a case actually filed?
     
  15. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    There are enough people who feed the monster to keep it strong and healthy. Those who pay make up for those who don't.
     
  16. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Yep, it's doubtful they would pursue a case for that small amount of money (even if it was owed). There are always going to be people who pay after getting an e-mail to offset (probably more than offset) those who don't pay.
     
  17. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    They work differently. This company collects money from people who actually borrowed money and didn't pay it back. Still most of this is a volume business that works the same way. Small trivial amounts were generally discarded but it was a numbers game whether they hit. If there was a $400 claim they might file a case - there was much greater certainty of a reasonable award. $400 was owed, perhaps only a portion in penalties but mostly principal. In this instance it's not so simple.

    1. You may have had no knowledge of infringement.

    2. The actual damages are debatable - how much is an image of clip art worth for one use?

    3. If there was knowledge, the defendant would probably have just purchased a license or used an alternative. How many would reasonably agree, prior to use, to pay $800 for a picture of stock flowers in a field? I've seen such demands.

    4. It is far from clear that a court would actually award the damages requested, let alone the costs of collection.
     
  18. Mebius

    Mebius New Member

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    I am currently on the 4th day of 7 that Ipassure (another legal collection agency scammer) has given me to respond, for trying to sell a set of Golion dvds on ioffer, for trademark/copyright infringement. I registered on ioffer in the middle of November 2012, thinking I would try to sell some stuff around the house, since I lost my job in September due to the economy. I listed the Golion dvds using (Japanese Voltron) as part of the description and put a picture of the Golion dvds I got off of google.

    Shortly thereafter, the listing was taken down by ioffer.

    Now just this past Tues, three months later, I get this threatening email from this Stacy lawyer in Connecticut, that she represents Classic Media and that I have violated the rights of Voltron. (the email is something to behold, kinda cut/paste looking). Kinda makes me out as part of some counterfeiting ring.

    Classic Media (and there trademarks/copyrights) was bought by DreamWorks for 155million in February of 2012, so actually they own the rights to voltron. The threatening email references Classic Media throughout, not DreamWorks. (so this is incorrect)

    So anyway, I list Golion (Japanese Voltron), it gets taken down and was never sold........I have made no profit.

    If I knew all this would happen, I would have left the dvds in the cabinet and never tried to sell them.

    From what I have read, once you respond to their emails, they want you to send them money.

    I for one am not responding to the 1st email, maybe they will go away? Or maybe I will be posting messages from jail. (I hope not, cuz I don't know who will feed my cat!!!)
     
  19. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Ignore it. Acknowledging them will only encourage them to harass you.
    The emails are meaningless and have no legal significance.
     
  20. wdw2011

    wdw2011 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I decided not to do anything. I have not gotten anymore e-mails on the matter, so let's hope I don't.
     

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