1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Law Case Resulting from Website Bought on Flippa

Discussion in 'Site Flipping' started by silan, Nov 21, 2014.

  1. silan

    silan Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    25
    Today I woke up to quite the unpleasant surprise sitting in my mail box.
    Almost shat a brick, would like some advice from more experienced members.

    A website that I had bought had a law case pending for copyright infringement dating back to a time I did not own the website (4/9/2014 all dates are made up)
    I had bought the website on Flippa after the copyright infringement was recorded but not filed. Had done some seo and updated it, removing all pictures because I had already heard of similar websites getting hit with lawsuits.

    A few months after purchasing the website I am contacted by the previous owner regarding a law case for a copyright image being used. The image had already been removed after I had taken over the website.
    He has forwarded me the lawyers email which states the date the copyright infringement and options to settle case.

    The previous owner must have gotten the email because of the contact us information page that was up during the time the infringement was noticed.

    The forwarded lawyer email had

    4/9/2014 (copyright infringement recorded), with an image of what the website looked like during that time ( I did not own the website at this time)

    The date recorded for the infringement was not during my ownership and I am also not receiving any emails from the lawyer himself.
    I have received some emails from the previous owner telling me we both need to come up with a solution but I think he is trying to con / weasel me into helping him out with the settlement (no money will be given unless the law firm directly contacts me)

    He has sent me numerous emails telling me it's my fault because I was in ownership of the website when the copyright infringement was noticed (not true btw, it was noticed two months before the sale) and has resorted to some bullshit analogies to try to prove his point.

    The emails he sends me are constantly trying to pin this problem on me, trying to point fingers every turn he gets.

    He has gone as far as to tell me that he did not own the website at that date and IS ASKING ME WHO OWNED IT.
    He has received both emails and mails from the lawyer, but I am scared that if somehow this gets placed on me, I will lose the settlement option if this drags out for much longer.


    1. How can I mitigate liability, should I email the lawyer with proof of website purchase after copyright infringement has been recorded? (Very large NYC law firm representing Getty images)
    2. If he did not own the website during that date, than why is he getting contacted? How did the lawyer get the contact info, do they use the simple contact us page or dig much deeper?
    3. All copyright images had already been removed from website but should I take it one step further and disable the entire website?
    4. Should this be an issue I contact flippa about to cover my ass (he did sell me material that he did not have legal rights over!)?

    It is clear from the emails he has sent me that he is trying to bully me into paying the settlement, what and how can I prepare for this?

    The website is not making enough to justify a settlement, would rather give up the website than the settlement money.
    I have not been contacted by the lawyer which seems odd to me considering I now own the website, no visible contact information was provided on my website so that could potentially be why.
    If this somehow gets placed on me what is stopping me from doing the same thing he did and selling the website, transferring ownership and liability?
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
  2. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    You're going to need to contact a lawyer on this one, at least for a consultation to get some reliable advice.

    One thing in your favor though, is if you bought the website on flippa then there will be record of when the sale took place and when you took ownership. It's most likely relevant that website sales essentially amount to a transfer of domain registration and some website files. So unless any of the previous owner's other assets were included in the sale, then I'm not sure any liability for practices done prior to you're purchase would transfer with the sale.

    Even with brick and mortar stores, a sale of the business doesn't necessarily transfer prior liability. Take something like contaminated ground water due to manufacturing processes as an example - A new owner would typically be responsible for all the costs involved in repairing any environmental damage found, but the previous owners would still be held accountable for any illegal activities that caused the contamination. A situation like that usually involves a lot of litigation and the results vary tremendously based on a lot of factors.

    The point though is that the previous owner of your website is mistaken if he believes the fact he sold it definitely means the new owner will be liable for anything prior to the sale. And he's really wrong if he thinks the sale in any way relieves him of liability for things which occurred before he sold it. As I said at the start though, you really need to talk to a lawyer if you want to find out for sure.

    Most likely you don't have anything to worry about though. The email that was sent to the previous owner are sent out all the time as a scare tactic, but in most cases it's not really worth it to actually start a lawsuit. I would definitely not agree to help the previous owner do anything to "find a solution", because doing so could be construed as an acceptance of liability on your part. In fact if a lawsuit were to proceed and somehow you were drawn into it in a way that results in any kind of financial loss on your part, as long as you haven't made an agreement with the previous owner you could probably sue him yourself to recoup your damages.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
  3. onething1

    onething1 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hey
    Did Getty just straight out sue the guy or at least give him a warning by trying to contact him asking to take it off? Worried as I'm wondering if the standard for these trolls is to straight sue without even asking for a take down. If the previous owner didn't have a contact form next to the dmca notice I would be very surprised.
     
  4. systematic

    systematic Regular Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2013
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    158
    Location:
    Wine Country
    I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but this is what I would do.

    Nothing.

    That's right, don't contact anyone, and stop responding to the messages the previous owner is sending you. The law firm is not contacting you directly so just leave it at that. If you truly bought the site after the point in time at which the infringing material was recognized, and if you have truly made good faith efforts to remove any infringing material once you took possession of the site, then you should be in the clear. Regardless of that, most of these firms try and bully people into settlements. They're like sharks. If you respond, and they smell blood, they'll go after you. But, if you just don't respond, make sure all material has been removed, then it is HIGHLY unlikely they are going to pursue any legal action. It takes a lot of resources to take legal action against someone. So, unless your website is raking in the cash, you're not worth their time.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  5. ThreadKiller

    ThreadKiller Power Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    303
    Location:
    London
    Aren't we supposed to be blackhatters? Why be so scared of lawyers?

    Of course the guy above telling you to do nothing is giving you the right advice. The clueless lawyer has sent out a threatening letter to the wrong person. The burden of proof is still on them. You can also write back and call them incompetent fools, and state the reason why.
     
  6. onnelbro86

    onnelbro86 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2014
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    6
    law thing drain money very fast, simply things can be complicated
     
  7. dbands

    dbands Newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2014
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    19
    I got legal advice once about a civil matter and he also indicated, the same as the writer above. Do nothing, especially if you are in the clear. The burden of proof is on the accuser.

    If you did not publish the content by removing it when you became aware of it then wait for the guys to contact you, don not contact them. If you are in the clear, you are in the clear.

    Best of luck.