Print 49 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Jun 19 at 6:55 PM

A copyright litigator claims to be on the verge of suing around 150,000 Americans for copyright infringement. It could make as much as $300M USD off the suit.  (Source: MPAA)
Torrent users beware, you may soon be receiving legal threats

Voltage Pictures, the producers of the film The Hurt Locker, made good on threats, filing suit against 5,000 owners of IP connections on which bittorrent downloads and uploads of the movie occurred.  The movie's producer even went as far as to say they hoped one critic of the lawsuit's family and kids ended up in jail.

Now the legal brains behind the epic lawsuit, the U.S. Copyright Group (USCG), have revealed plans to send tens of thousands of more "pay up or else" threat letters to those who downloaded other films.  

Thomas Dunlap, leader of the group, created a website where industry officials could go to see informative videos.  In the videos Dunlap brags about how easy it is to squeeze money out of filesharers.  Dunlap promises to handle infringement problems for studios in exchange for a hefty cut -- 70 percent of the settlement.

All of the videos have been taken down, except for this one.

According to the USCG's claims, the organization is currently tracking 300 films each with 500 tracked file-sharers, making for a total of around 150,000 potential targets at risk of receiving a settlement letter.  USCG suggests that it can send a "speculative invoice" to these individuals demanding between a $1,500 to $2,500 USD settlement.  That means that taking the middle of the settlement figures ($2,000), the USCG could try to pull in as much as $300M USD in revenue from the scheme, and pocket $210M USD of that sum.

ACLU lawyer Rachel Myers argues that this scheme may be an abuse of the U.S. legal system.  She writes:

Last week, we filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Time Warner Cable's motion to quash or modify the subpoenas it received for information about thousands of users who allegedly downloaded certain movies from the Internet using the BitTorrent file sharing application. We argue that the subpoenas, which lump thousands of otherwise-unrelated individuals into a few cases filed in a court far from where any of them live, violate the individual users' rights to due process and anonymity and don't give them an adequate chance to defend themselves.

Despite an early court victory Judge Collyer of the District of Columbia has demanded a review of the settlement plan.

Even without court approvals, though, the group can still forward non-court-endorsed letters through ISPs, assuming the ISPs prove willing to cooperate.  Several ISPs have already cooperated with such schemes from groups like Nexicon.

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HA. I Can't Wait
By mgilbert on 6/15/2010 9:18:17 AM , Rating: -1
Let’s see… Movie producers spend millions, and work 16 hour days – and, gee, they actually want to be paid for their work, and they can only do that by selling and screening their work.

And you think it is OK to obtain copies of their work for free??? How is that fair to the people who worked hard to make the movie? How is it moral and ethical? Weren’t you raised not to cheat others?

Yes, the tactics they are using are questionable, but they have to stop this somehow, before there is no profit in making movies.

I love to read all your whining and complaining. It doesn’t matter if the movie sucked. it doesn’t matter how unprofessional you think the USCG website is. It doesn’t matter how rich the movie producers are.

It doesn’t matter who downloaded the movie. If it was done from your computer, you are responsible for it – period. And if your IP address was caught passing bits of a movie along, then you have that movie on your computer – and that’s illegal, and you are responsible.

You can tell them to kiss your ass. You can call them all the names you want. You can call it stealing, or charity – whatever you want, but if you did the crime, you are going to pay. All your posturing and whining won’t faze a judge. They’ve heard more stupid excuses than you can imagine.

If they say you did it, then you did it, and you might as well start saving up your money.

I can’t wait to see all you tough guys with your big tough talk go down. You’ll fold like a house of cards when you see the evidence against you, knowing damn well that you got caught. HA HA HA HA HA!!!

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By conejo99 on 6/15/2010 10:14:58 AM , Rating: 2
You say "It doesn’t matter who downloaded the movie."
Legally, I have no idea. Morally, I'm only responsable for my actions or negligence. You can go from an extreem case of a grandmother who has never heard of downloading on the one hand, to a parent who just doesn't care on the other. Somewhere a reasonable standard of neglegence needs to be judged. 150,000 cases each worth $2000 doesn't allow for the proper administation of justice.
Movie producers should not be allowed to inflict injustice even in pursuit of their justifiable rights.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By mgilbert on 6/15/2010 11:09:06 AM , Rating: 2
Traffic tickets have set prices. Depending on the situation, shoplifting results in a citation for a set amount. That's just a couple of examples.

So, the fine for stealing a movie is $2,000. Problem solved.

Trying to stop people from stealing your work is not an injustice.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By conejo99 on 6/15/2010 11:34:43 AM , Rating: 2
You say "Trying to stop people from stealing your work is not an injustice." True enough, but that is not what is going on. Indescrimantly punishing the innocent along with the guilty is the injustice.
My point is that the large number and small severity of the damage claims do not lend themselves to a fair hearing.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By mcnabney on 6/15/2010 10:33:06 AM , Rating: 3
You don't know anything about movie production.

The studio owns the film. The people that 'made' the film are paid upfront and go on to do other things regardless of how well the movie sells. Only a handful of big directors/stars can actually get a percentage of gross sales (never get a percentage of the Net, the Net can be any number the studio wants. Forrest Gump had a Net of zero). DVD sales are just icing on the cake for studios. Think of all of the movies made from the 80's and before. Every penny made from the sale of those DVDs goes to the studio. Don't try to play the 'poor movie producer' angle. It is corporate IP, no different than software code or the formulae in medicine.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By mgilbert on 6/15/2010 10:48:47 AM , Rating: 1
You're splitting hairs. I'll boil it down for you. Your IP address was seen transferring data in and out from a copyrighted movie that you have not paid for. That's illegal, and it was your computer, and you are responsible. End of story. Pay up.

I'm not crazy about this any more than you are. I'm as anti-government as they come. I'm just pointing out what I believe is going to happen.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By mcnabney on 6/15/2010 3:39:29 PM , Rating: 2
I remember in my youth I would occasionally record songs off of the radio (damn DJ would never SHUT UP!). Same idea there. I am deliberately capturing and retaining protected IP.

Fast forward to the modern age when the same actions are simplified and automated. Only now we are allowing corporations to track our actions. Getting to be a pretty brave new world.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By xxsk8er101xx on 6/16/2010 12:50:13 AM , Rating: 3
You're an idiot. IP's are generally dynamic and you can easily change it at will by unplugging your router for an hour and plugging it back in.

You can also spoof IP addresses to make it look like someone else. It's not hard.

You don't see the abuse of the legal system and potential harm to innocent victims who never touched bittorent? Then you're an ignorant buffoon who has no clue about technology.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By Ratinator on 6/15/2010 3:01:27 PM , Rating: 2
One of the biggest complaints is the little people involved in a movie are the ones getting screwed, yet movie companies feel the need to pay lead actors and actresses upwards of $20million+ per movie. Maybe they should look again at where and how they spend their money.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By Jeffk464 on 6/15/2010 3:27:33 PM , Rating: 2
Come on people, you cant afford the $1 red box rental.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By mcnabney on 6/15/2010 3:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
That and Netflix have been my solution. I already own all of the DVDs that I am likely to watch again and again.

RE: HA. I Can't Wait
By xxsk8er101xx on 6/16/2010 12:52:40 AM , Rating: 2
the stuff you can download on bit torrent is generally not available on a redbox. Such as a super rare movie you can't find anymore because it's not in print.

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