This year has seen an explosion of companies all trying to cash in on the ‘turn piracy into profit’ mantra. These companies, many of them involving lawyers, are copying other people’s work like crazy – they’re even copying from each other. Today we bring news that one of these companies has taken a Coat of Arms issued by Elizabeth I in 1600, modified it, and used it for their own commercial purposes.

By day they spout their anti-filesharing rhetoric to the world in their inimitable corporate legalese. By night they’re spending the ill-gotten booty generated from their schemes and, surprise, surprise – infringing other people’s copyrights like top-rate hypocrites. There have been so many ‘indiscretions’ in recent times it’s hard to keep up, so please excuse us if we accidentally leave a couple of dozen out.

Earlier, ACS:Law happily copied other people’s news reports and posted those on their site as their own material, but were found out and quickly took the content down. But later the infringer became the victim when it was revealed through the leaked emails from ACS:Law that lawyers Tilly, Bailey & Irvine were threatened by ACS boss Andrew Crossley when TBI ‘pirated’ some of his legal documents and used them to screw money out of alleged file-sharers.

Over the pond in the States, the makers of The Hurt Locker are in partnership with the U.S. Copyright Group (USCG) in order to get yet more worry money from file-sharers. Considering their position, them infringing on other people’s rights would look very bad. And it did when they were caught copying a competitors website. Furthermore, USCG are now being sued by rival Media Copyright Group over a trademark issue.

A trademarks issue you say? Read on…

Earlier this week, following a tip from reader Mr Piracy Reporter, Techdirt reported that another new operation called the Copyright Defense Agency had created a very similar website to the one owned by the Copyright Enforcement Agency – the same company that USCG were accused of copying earlier. Please try to keep up….

However, while the sites do indeed look very similar, with their tech-styled graphics on the right and their official looking emblems on the left, it seems that the Copyright Defense Agency have been very naughty. Very naughty indeed. Here is their frontpage:

CDA Logo

Copyright Defense Agency

While the logo above does indeed look proud and regal, that hardly comes as a surprise when one discovers it was actually issued by Queen Elizabeth I. In the year 1600. However, since the Copyright Defense Agency (CDA) weren’t threatening file-sharers more than 400 years ago, they couldn’t have been the lucky recipients.

It turns out that Queen Elizabeth I gave this Coat of Arms to the famous East India Company which was set up by the English to trade with India. The original sketch can be seen below (image credit).

East India Company Coat of Arms


“The East India Company was granted a Coat of Arms under the direct instructions from Queen Elizabeth I to William Camden alias Clarencieux, Garter Principal of the King of Arms,” explains the company website.

The company exists in new form today as a luxury brand, so when one begins to understand a little about the history its perhaps no surprise that they currently use a different logo. Nevertheless, the company is very clear about who owns the emblem.

“Today the coat of arms is a trademark of The East India Company,” they explain.

The Coat of Arms as displayed on the CDA site is, however, very slightly modified. The text as ordered by Queen Elizabeth I has been erased from the bottom scrolls.

It did say Deus Indicat. Deo Ducente Nil Nocet. (God is our leader. When God leads, nothing can harm.)

Its probably best for CDA to erase the rest of the logo now, and buy one of their own. Then they should stop intimidating file-sharers for doing just the same but for non-commercial purposes. They can’t take the moral high-ground with moves like this – if they ever had it.