Print 19 comment(s) - last by wempa.. on Dec 29 at 10:52 AM

Pirates win the day, even as movie studio faces its own claims of infringement, exploitation of U.S. soldiers

It was supposed to be a landmark case against file sharing.  Hoping to sue those who downloaded its Hurt Locker film via torrent, Voltage Pictures retained the services of the U.S. Copyright Group (USCG), led by the trio of Washington, D.C. lawyers Thomas Dunlap, Daniel Grubb, and J.W. Weaver.  The USCG quickly unloaded lawsuit claims against 47K members of the unwitting American public, even as Voltage Picture spewed a stream of vitriol suggesting that the children and families of file sharers would hopefully "end up in jail".  

With an average target settlement of $2,000 USD, USCG and Voltage hoped to rake in $94M USD -- a blockbuster total.  If the scheme worked it could have launched a new era of reverse class action claims, in which media corporations targeted thousands of members of the public for hundreds of millions in damages.  In fact, the USCG alone announced a goal of suing over 150,000 Americans for copyright infringement of various works.

Instead the case imploded.  Internet service providers, wary of throwing out paying customers and spending extra money to track down the infringers carried out the USCG's requests for information at a leisurely pace.

A panicked USCG was forced to drastically scale down the claims to 2,300 defendants.

But in the end even that wasn't enough.  Without sufficient information to carry out its reverse class action tactic, the USCG was forced to grovel before the presiding judge asking for extension after extension.

In the end, despite the fact that the presiding judge -- Judge Beryl Howell -- was a former RIAA lobbyist who spent years decrying the evils of piracy, even he grew tired of the USCG's antics.  After asking for one extension too many, he threw the group's case out of court, ending Voltage Picture's costly experiment in mass litigation.

Hurt Locker
A scene from The Hurt Locker [Image Source: AP]

The death of the lawsuit is a victory for those who claim that the U.S. intellectual property system is out of control and out of touch with modern reality.  While many of these individuals frown on piracy, they find charging citizens thousands of dollars for what amounts to petty theft to be a ludicrous proposition.  

They also point to growing legal support for the notion that an IP address cannot be equated to a person -- something the tech community has long understood.  Given that somebody can crack your Wi-Fi connection, download content, and leave you with the fine, this seems a pretty valid point.

Voltage, for its part, appears to be unwilling to give up the fight.  It reportedly is changing gears, hoping to launch a number of smaller suits against individuals, with higher settlement targets.

But like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it may find itself fighting against the wind.  The RIAA spent $64M USD to win a mere $1.4M USD from pirates during its most prolific lawsuit period between 2006 and 2008.

The greatest irony is perhaps that, like big music labels, Voltage and Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal are accused of ripping off and stealing intellectual property from "the little guy".  A U.S. Army Master Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver has accused Mr. Boal and Voltage of lifting the plot from Mr. Boal's time spent with Sgt. Sarver's company, while passing the story off as fiction in order to make sure the soldiers who put their lives on the line to serve received no compensation.  The accusations are similar to those leveled against major music labels who reportedly have been engaging in large scale theft of works of independent artists.

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"Pirates win the day"
By nafhan on 12/27/2011 3:32:27 PM , Rating: 5
Pirates win the day
While this subtitle is kind of funny, I would say sanity and almost everyone who's not an MPAA lawyer (along with the relatively small group known pejoratively as "pirates") are winners thanks to this ruling.

I'm happy to see someone who was attempting to abuse the US court system for profit getting (figuratively) kicked in the nuts. Now if that producer could just get literally kicked in the nuts, my day would be complete.

RE: "Pirates win the day"
By Shig on 12/27/2011 3:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
"The RIAA spent $64M USD to win a mere $1.4M USD from pirates during its most prolific lawsuit period between 2006 and 2008."

I wonder what cool new things the RIAA could have actually done with that $62.6M USD.

RE: "Pirates win the day"
By nafhan on 12/27/2011 4:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
Q: what cool new things could the RIAA have actually done with $62.6M USD?
A: Nothing, it's the RIAA! HAHahaaa <cough, cough>... actually, that's more sad than funny.

RE: "Pirates win the day"
By FITCamaro on 12/27/2011 11:39:46 PM , Rating: 2
Make half of another shitty Saw movie?

RE: "Pirates win the day"
By JonB on 12/28/2011 4:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
I can't believe it. I actually agreed with an FITCamaro post. Merry Christmas!!!

RE: "Pirates win the day"
By spread on 12/28/2011 11:31:09 PM , Rating: 2
And then use rejected scenes from the first half to make the second half. Doesn't even need an ending.

RE: "Pirates win the day"
By ProZach on 12/27/2011 11:54:22 PM , Rating: 3
How about using the money to clone Jim Morrison and put him at his would-be age today. Then get him and Lou Reed a podium each and fiercely battle for the "Mumbling Rock Poetry Award" hosted by the usual VH1 reps.

The tickets will guarantee to sell out... baby.

RE: "Pirates win the day"
By RivuxGamma on 12/28/2011 8:08:12 PM , Rating: 2
The Hurt Locker wasn't even all that good. Maybe that's why they tried suing everybody. Just as an extra kick in the junk for having to endure that crap anyways.

I give you "Joe Shmo and the Pirate go to Downloadtown"

Joe Shmo: Doo de doo... I heard 'The Hurt Locker' was turds in movie form, but it won a bunch of awards. I sure don't wanna get cornholed at the theatre, but I kinda want to see it.

Pirate: "Nyeeehh!" *hisses* "Why pay for anything when you can download it for free?! AHAHAHAHAHA!" *hisses*

Joe Shmo: "Really? You sound kinda shady, but I do like free. What is this 'downloading?' Can I find it at Best Buy?"

Pirate: "AHAHAH-what?" *chokes on own spittle* "LOL, SRSLY? FML. Put this in your address bar and then press Enter: '' They'll help you. Don't talk to me until you're sure you've watched 'he Hurt Locker.'"

Joe Shmo: "Thanks Mr. hissy-pirate-man! I'll get right on it!"

Time passes...

Joe Shmo: "Man, it sure takes a while to find someone helpful on the internet..."

More time passes...

Joe Shmo: "Hey Mr. Pirate! I just watched 'The Hurt Locker' and I hated it. I want my money back."

Pirate: "AHAHAHAHA!" *hisses* "Idiot! You paid nothing for it, so nobody can give you money for it! Now, if you didn't like that, try watching 'Animal Farm.' It's a classic. AHAHAHAHAHA!"

Voltage/USCG: "BTW, that'll be $2000."

Joe Shmo: "Hey, no fair! I didn't even like your crappy movie! You tricked me, Pirate!"

Pirate: "AHAHAHAHAHA! I did not!" *hisses* "I merely omitted certain details!"

Voltage/USCG: "In lieu of said dollars, we will accept all-inclusive, exclusive rights to your b-hole."

Joe Shmo: "You can't do this! Help me, Pirate!"

Pirate: "AHAHAHAHAHA!" *hisses* "Help yourself, ya Mac-lubber! Nyeeeehhh!"

Voltage/USCG: "You were going to get boned one way or the other. This way we make more money."


Pirate and Voltage/USCG: (together) "AHAHAHAHAHA!" *hisses*

Grammatical Reicht
By Namey on 12/27/11, Rating: 0
RE: Grammatical Reicht
By mindless1 on 12/27/2011 8:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
No. Running into the wind, or swimming against the current.

Take your time googling, maybe you'll find out that people don't appreciate such whiny posting about idealized grammar.

RE: Grammatical Reicht
By Namey on 12/28/2011 8:06:17 AM , Rating: 2
Disrespectful and unappreciative to the author, maybe. Whiny? Not so much. I would probably classify the tone of your response as whiny, rather than my original comment ;)

Oh and google tells me that "Running into the wind" is not an idiom.

I think "swimming against the current" is the best.

RE: Grammatical Reicht
By JonB on 12/28/2011 5:02:44 PM , Rating: 2
Jim Croce would say "Don't Spit Into the Wind" but that was from a list of "don'ts" like Tugging on Superman's Cape or Pulling the Mask off of the Lone Ranger.

and don't mess with around with Jim. :)

By LBID on 12/27/2011 3:36:01 PM , Rating: 3
This reminds me of the recent lawsuit Joe Satriani filed against Coldplay for ripping off his riffs in a hit song. They most certainly did (anyone who listened to his original song could hear it), but they didn't end up paying him a cent. The reason? Apparently Satriani originally ripped off the melody from a small independent South American artist.

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

RE: Memories...
By Silver2k7 on 12/28/2011 6:56:25 AM , Rating: 2
with millions of songs out there its pretty hard to keep track of whats been done before, its probably easier to just assume that someone somewhere has done something simmilar.

there are even many bands wich share the same names.
for example, now these bands might be crap (or not).
the point is its one of many such cases.

Armageddon (Germany)
Armageddon (Israel)
Armageddon (Sweden)

The time to fight piracy is LONG past...
By letmepicyou on 12/28/2011 12:53:48 PM , Rating: 2
If you ask me, the time to stop piracy was 25 or 30 years ago when everyone was buying double cassette deck recorders and bulk packs of blank tapes. I can't BEGIN to tell you how many albums I dubbed from friends. Swapping newly purchased tapes of the latest and greatest and then copying them to a blank tape was king, and nobody, not ONE SINGLE PERSON, ever even CONSIDERED it to be theft or "piracy". A negative thought never entered our minds, we were just sharing what seemed natural to share. Heck, some decks even had HIGH SPEED DUBBING!!! Whoa, if that's not a pro-piracy technology, I don't know what is.

Point is, the bus that goes in the direction of "stopping piracy" (what I in fact call "culture sharing", because it sounds MUCH nicer, and we all know how spin rules the day) has already left the terminal. Not only did it already leave, but the regular driver called in sick, the substitute driver isn't in the union, hasn't been trained, and got lost along the way. Several passengers are believed to have died or been 'misplaced', the bathroom is broke, your luggage is lost, they've got a flat, and the bus is out of gas in the middle of a deserted highway in the middle of nowhere. Al Qaeda is not suspected.

It can be awful hard to stop a leak in the dam when the flood waters are already receding, can't it?

By wempa on 12/29/2011 10:52:03 AM , Rating: 2
Before broadband internet became widely available, it was still a lot harder to pirate music/movies/software. Somebody needed a real copy and you needed to physically exchange media. So, the impact of those dual cassette decks was very limited compared to what we have today. Nobody could have seen this coming. Heck, 20 years ago the idea of computers being used as media centers for music/movies/software with terabytes of storage seemed ludicrous.

Up-loaders are the real fault
By KOOLTIME on 12/28/2011 1:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
We need better system to have all uploads scrutinized before being made available. Then no matter what is clicked on by a end user- they wont have to worry about their safety for it. Up loader security is what we lack and why viruses and trojans and spam e-mails by the billions happen every day.

You won a million dollars click here to claim your prize information. OOPS now those that did are now part of this illegal movie law suit. Web trickery scamming victims by the billions per e-mails a day, is our real issue.

Jason Mick/Dailytech support piracy
By bill4 on 12/27/11, Rating: -1
By R3T4rd on 12/28/2011 9:53:14 AM , Rating: 3
And you probably work for the RIAA, MPAA, and or Voltage Pictures.


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