Movie Studio’s Collection Agency Violates FDCPA


Update as of November 1, 2010. Dale Spislander, in public relations with the Copyright Enforcement Group, contacted my lawfirm to say this about Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG):

We repeat: CEG does not practice, has never practiced, and will never practice a debt collection model.

Mr. Spislander referred me to the original article on CNET which contains this update:

Update: Dale Spislander, a spokesman for Copyright Enforcement Group, contacted CNET on October 27 and denied that the group had created a contract that included terms regarding debt collectors. The group does acknowledge, however, that the contract in question was distributed by Ira Siegel, an attorney under contract with the group. Spislander said that CEG does not use debt collectors.

Here is the original post:

The Michigan Collection Law Blog has posted an interesting article about a debt collection company that is hired to pursue the violators of movie studios’ copyright laws. The collection company, named the Copyright Enforcement Group, seeks to obtain money damages from people before a judgment is issued in court.

Many people aren’t aware that this area of debt collection is actually covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which applies to “all debts incurred by a consumer for ‘personal, family, or household use’.” The Copyright Enforcement Group has just been very fortunate so far that they haven’t tried to collect from someone who was fully aware of their rights under the FDCPA and also filed a lawsuit.

Many of these debt collectors are not training in the FDCPA and they are going to get into trouble. For example, under he FDCPA, the debtor has a right to demand validation of the debt. The debt collector then has to provide validation that the debt is owed and to whom the debt is owed. One large problem with collecting this sort of an obligation, is that there is no debt established yet. Violating one’s copyright is actionable, without a debt. However, until a court actually reduces a studio’s claim to a dollar figure, the debt collector cannot validate a debt because there is no number to attach to that debt.

If you have had problems with debt collectors, or have been harassed by one, and have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us through our website or by calling 205-879-2447.

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