GrayZone, Inc. was founded in 1986 by its President and CEO Dorothy Sherman, who believed that a reasonably priced investigative, paralegal and research practice of the highest quality could be established in a creative and stimulating environment. GrayZone specializes in high-tech Internet investigations involving bootleg, counterfeit, and pirated product. GrayZone has been dubbed the "bootbusters" of the entertainment industry.
Our clients include record labels, music publishers, computer software companies, law firms, investigative agencies, recording artists, producers and fashion designers. GrayZone has fostered long-term and amicable relationships with leading Internet Service Providers, international anti-piracy agencies, and popular websites, which enables us to remove infringing product on a moment's notice.
Two basic principles have guided our company throughout its 23-year history. First and foremost, we are committed to providing our clients with services of the highest quality with the utmost integrity. Second, to attract and retain our clients, we are committed to providing services on a cost-effective basis. Our commitment to both of these principles led us to reject the fast-growing, high-leverage and media hungry investigative firm model long before it became fashionable to do so, and to create a company distinguished by its international reputation, a thriving and interesting practice, and the diverse backgrounds and achievements of its employees.
GrayZone prides itself on forcefully and ethically representing our clients' interests, while striving to be creative and efficient. We were a pioneer in high-tech, cutting edge Internet investigations long before the advent of websites, when the Internet was nothing more than a blinking cursor on the computer screen. We specialize in alternative dispute resolution in a discreet and low profile manner, and we are proud of the reputation we have achieved for providing high quality services on a cost-efficient basis.
Services We Offer
We have paralegals, research experts, music, movie and software professionals, licensed private investigators and skilled computer operators on call to serve you. We specialize in the field of anti-piracy operations and have contacts worldwide to assist us.
Quickly, quietly and in a cost effective manner.
Our first task is to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the extent of the problem.
We draw upon our many contacts in the music business and retain the services of a research consultant who is knowledgeable on your artist. Working with your own in-house experts and consultants, we design a database from which we can begin to ascertain a course of action.
Edited portions of these databases are distributed to various law enforcement concerns (such as customs, FBI, IRS and other worldwide tax agencies) as well as music industry agencies (such as IFPI, RIAA, CRIA, ARIA, et al.)
We keep track of information like: alleged licensees, SID codes, bar codes, matrix numbers, distinguishing marks and characteristics, track listings, quality, volume, price, release data and distributors. We even have a comprehensive list of independent record shops worldwide who offer bootlegs for sale.
We scan all product we collect, and make these graphic files available to the appropriate agencies. For instance, do you know that virtually all bootleg, pirate and counterfeit compact discs arrive at a customs port of entry on spindles (compact discs are stacked on a pole) and not in their jewel cases? Many disc do not list the bootlegged act as it would be too obvious and could possibly tip off authorities.
Solving the issues can be a logistical and time-consuming ordeal. We have the skills and connections to work with the worldwide agencies related to your circumstance.
Once we have assembled our facts and figures related to your artist, we organize the information in a manner that is accessible and manageable for our respective contacts. We advise them of specific recommended targets: bootleg manufacturers, distributors, Internet sites, independent record shops and record fairs. We draft the proper paperwork needed and secure the appropriate legal documents to initiate action. We are informed of actions already in progress and can lobby the agencies of clients' desire to receive more direct attention to their specific issues. We keep you informed of all activities and take no action that you deem inappropriate or unnecessary.
We distribute to our clients a quarterly digest that summarizes events in the world of anti-piracy operations. Much of the information we compile relates to recent bootleg, pirate and counterfeit raids, seizures and arrests. We try to keep informed of novel legal issues, precedent setting cases and other interesting items pertaining to recent changes in the general field of copyright/trademark infringement. Over time, you'll notice throughout the digests how our work with you fits into the larger picture within the world of anti-piracy events.
In one instance, the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) secured an attachment on a shipment of 36,500 bootleg compact discs from a Luxembourg court. The compact discs, manufactured and distributed by an Italian company, Kiss the Stone, were seized by Luxembourg Customs during a routine inspection.
From the moment the court granted IFPI the right to inspect the shipments, a clock began to tick. In most cases, customs allows a narrow window of two to three weeks (occasionally granting an extension for additional limited time) for these inspections.
IFPI contacted GrayZone with an urgent request for numerous affidavits from our clients at major record labels, attesting to the fact our clients had not authorized this notorious bootleg label to manufacture the product in question. GrayZone worked around the clock to ensure that the deadline was met so that the contraband product could be seized for an indefinite period and used in a criminal court proceeding against Kiss The Stone.
It was no problem for us because we have all the necessary affidavits for many worldwide territories on file and know precisely what IFPI and its affiliates require because we have been working with them since 1990 on timely matters such as the one described above. Please note that these seizures occur on a routine basis. GrayZone is poised at all times to meet the urgent deadlines imposed by customs agencies around the world.
As you probably know only too well, it is easiest to generate documents (like affidavits) from your department at the record label on behalf of your major artists. You can execute them from the convenience of your offices. This is standard operating procedure for most piracy matters. However, with the proliferation of bootlegs, both on the Information Highway and in the real world, your sworn statement on behalf of the record label is not sufficient. Powers of Attorneys must be secured directly from the artists.
There are currently 24 territories worldwide that have agencies in place to combat piracy. GrayZone coordinates all logistics (a daunting task) with respect to these agencies in securing these fully executed documents from the artists. We have cultivated the trust of prominent artist managers during the course of our business. By streamlining our efforts between the record labels, the anti-piracy agencies, the artist managers and their lawyers/advisers, we are able to efficiently coordinate these tedious tasks with minimal frustration for all concerned.
Once we've secured the signatures on the documents, we also coordinate all administrative tasks thereafter: certify notary signatures, obtain apostilles and forward to respective agencies.
Simply put: GrayZone is the missing link in the difficult science of anti-piracy operations.
Consider that these agencies are in place to serve the interest of their clients, which include all the major labels, many independent labels, producers and artists. The benefit you derive from these agencies is that they organize their efforts for the good of all, to the exclusion of few.
Their clients (such as Warner Bros., Atlantic, Elektra, Sony, Polygram) make substantial contributions to these agencies on a regular basis. GrayZone helps make these contributions work to the benefit of our clients. We save our clients a fortune in legal fees by not only investigating claims, but preparing the case files from which the agencies can draw pertinent details, to providing the proper legal documentation that is vital to the implementation of most actions the agencies may undertake.
GrayZone always works with these agencies and rarely undertakes action apart from them. We enhance their work, and provide them with supplementary tools (research, leads, legal documents) to make the process more efficient and, ultimately, cost effective for all.
Grayzone with IFPI Anti-Bootleg Program an Ongoing Success.
Securing the proper legal documents is critical to the overall success of our anti-piracy efforts. Since we initiated this campaign with one of our clients, a major entertainment company, and in collaboration with IFPI, GrayZone has secured over 120 Powers of Attorney (POAs) related to anti-piracy operations.
In fact, we have obtained more signatures on POAs from major international recording acts than all the other major entertainment companies combined!
Bootleg Capital Brought to a Halt: GrayZone Contributes
Key New York City bootleg manufacturers and distributors found themselves face-to-face with former New York State Attorney General, Dennis Vacco, local law enforcement and RIAA officials when major raids took place in and around the New York City area. Using our contraband databases, we provided the RIAA with detailed information concerning bootlegs available at these high profile New York locations. (See the July/August Digest for details.)
Our In-Depth Investigations Get Results
We've been involved in many major investigations and have contributed to the demise of several significant contraband operations. Here are a few highlights:
- Provided comprehensive report on major bootleg manufacturer and distributor
in the Los Angeles area. Made undercover buys, managed to infiltrate
operation with our own undercover agent. Provided bank records and master
tape materials to law enforcement and RIAA. With these materials, they were
able to search, seize and arrest the head of this operation.
Additional note: when law enforcement conducted their search, they also discovered illegal weapons and a cache of lost and/or stolen credit cards. The individual was sentenced to jail for 2-5 years.
- Retained by a major music publisher to scrutinize a large Internet bootleg distributor. We conducted a thorough investigation and provided their attorneys with the proper materials to effectively notify the Internet provider, who, in turn, shut down the site.
- The same music publisher asked us to conduct an investigation of a large east coast bootleg distributor. We made over 50 undercover buys and prepared an in-depth report of the distributor's business activities, including his financial profile and other related activities. The case has become so comprehensive that the IRS, postal inspectors, private investigators, local law enforcement and the RIAA have become involved. The investigation, which has taken over two years, should be resolved in our client's favor, in the very near future.
- We currently have ongoing investigations in progress with IFPI concerning German, Swedish, Italian and Czech Republic bootleg and pirate distributors, a parallel import case with NVPI and are working with ARIA on a matter concerning a bootleg manufacturer in Adelaide.
A Special Note to Attorneys:
We are not here to replace you. We are trained to work with you, following your directives and responding to your initiatives. In fact, the majority of the time, we deal with attorneys who have been instructed by their clients to resolve a contraband matter.
Do not hesitate to contact us at: services [at] grayzone [dot] com today.
GrayZone, Inc. We can help you Beat the Boots!!