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The USCG is accused of executing an extortion campaign that would make the Mafioso proud. It is currently trying to threaten nearly 50,000 U.S. citizens into settlements.
Record setting lawsuit against downloaders of The Hurt Locker has reached nearly 25,000 people, alone

A bizarre case just became more bizarre.  Lawyers for Voltage Pictures, makers of the Oscar-winning war movie The Hurt Locker, have announced [Scribd] in legal filings that they are dramatically expanding their record setting legal crusade against filesharers.

I. A Reverse Class Action?

The Hurt Locker lawsuit is perhaps the first of its kind.  It represents a reverse class action, with a company acting as a plaintiff and suing a large class of defendants.

Originally this class was set at 5,000.  But as promised, lawyers for Voltage Pictures have expanded the class, adding close to 20,000 newly accused defendants, for a total of 24,583 defendants.

The majority of defendants are on Comcast.  A total of 10,532 Comcast users currently stand accused.  Comcast has refused to cooperate with the plaintiffs in targeting its customers according to filed legal documents.

By contrast Verizon, who had the second most defendants at 5,239, agreed to hand over the names and information of 100 customers a month.  Third place Charter, with 2,699 defendants, agreed to hand over 150 customers a month.  

Time Warner rounds off the list with 1,750 defendants.

If Comcast can hold off the legal assault, it may safeguard approximately two fifths of the customers targeted in the case.  The plaintiffs do not currently have users' true identities -- just the offending IP addresses.  So as long as Comcast refuses to cooperate its customers will be safe.

Even in the case of Verizon and Charter it will take years at the promised rate to successfully obtain information on all the accused.

II. USCG -- Nearly 50,000 Sued

The legal brains behind this audacious lawsuit is the U.S. Copyright Group (USCG).  The men leading the USCG are a trio of lawyers Thomas Dunlap, Daniel Grubb, and J.W. Weaver whose main office is located in Washington, D.C.

The USCG have borrow a page from the Mafioso playbook, creating a mass "pay or else" scheme of legal threats, which many consider pure extortion.  

In many ways this scheme is the entertainment industry's anointed successor to the notorious Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) campaign of legal threats.  However the USCG suits are a bit different, as they actually have been filed in court, versus the RIAA threats that were negotiated out of court.  Amazingly, federal courts appear to be cooperating with the USCG's scheme to juice millions out of the unsuspecting public.

Last month the USCG announced [Scribd] a suit against 23,322 defendants for downloading the movie The Hurt Locker.  That brings the total to 47,905 -- close to the eye-catching 50k mark.

The USCG hopes to gains settlements of $2,000 from the defendants.  If it can get everyone to settle, it could in theory make $95.81M USD.  Of course it probably will get nowhere close to that, but even if it got a mere fourth of defendants to settle it would receive almost $24.0M USD -- a handsome payout compared to the $17M USD The Hurt Locker made at the box office at the $103M USD box office scoop from The Expendables.

The USCG has said that they hope to sue 150,000 U.S. citizens for various infringed works.

III. Former RIAA Lobbyist-Turned-Judge Presides Over the Case

If the selection of Judge is any indication, the defendants could be in very bad trouble.  The happy news for the USCG is that the judge presiding over the case -- Judge Beryl Howell -- was a former RIAA lobbyist who spent years decrying the evils of piracy.

Judge Howell will deliver her ruling on whether the case by Voltage Pictures with the new details can proceed and under what stipulations.

One complication is a recent ruling Judge Harold Baker, a judge at the Central District Court of Illinois that an IP address does not equate to a physical person/defendant.  However, typically federal court rulings only apply within a state, or sometimes are considered by nearby states.

Judge Howell (Washington, D.C.) is free to draw her own conclusions as she's in a separate jurisdiction in which the legal system still seems to think an IP (internet protocol) address identifies a single person.

The association between IP and identity remains a thorny legal issue in the United States.  In court, the U.S. largely upheld IP logs as evidence in trials such as the cases against Jammie Thomas-Rassert and Joel Tenenbaum.

And recently, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and its sister agencies have been conducting raids on suspected child pornography viewers based solely on IP logs -- with minimal background research.  In many cases these raids were later discovered to be case of mistaken identity -- but that discovery came too late for brutalized homeowners.

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Cataclysmic BS
By Motoman on 5/24/2011 11:09:38 AM , Rating: 5
...and how many of these 25,000 would have *bought* a copy of The Hurt Locker if it wasn't on some torrent site?

-> 0

Every time any organization says anything about some dollar figure being "lost" to piracy, every single person in that organization should get punched in the face. In ALL cases, when any positive dollar amount is quoted as being "lost" to piracy, the number 0 is much closer to reality than the value quoted.

Piracy != lost sales. Piracy = getting something for free that you otherwise have no interest in buying.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By Thrymm on 5/24/2011 11:25:01 AM , Rating: 5
No one in their right mind should have stolen it, the Hurt Locker was a piece of shit as it was. Wouldn't even be worth the disk space.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By theapparition on 5/24/2011 11:53:53 AM , Rating: 2
I was about to echo the same sentiment. Can't believe that piece of trash won awards.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By Reclaimer77 on 5/24/11, Rating: -1
RE: Cataclysmic BS
By PoikilothermicX on 5/24/2011 4:19:28 PM , Rating: 2
The Green Zone was much closer to actual facts than the Hurt Locker ever hoped to be. The "hero" in the Hurt Locker would never be allowed anywhere close to the front lines.

For an actual documentary look to No End In Sight. The Green Zone offended a lot of people because it highlights American incompetence and ineptitude. Unfortunately they're true.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By Reclaimer77 on 5/24/2011 8:17:32 PM , Rating: 3
No, the Green Zone was speculative conspiracy theory riddled bullshit. Poorly written, poorly acted, and ultimately trite and predictable. And in case there was any doubt about the intelligence of someone who would choose to view this, you're constantly beaten over the head with the overarching message of the film. Just, you know, in case you somehow didn't "get it" the first 100 times.

I happen to watch movies to be entertained. Apparently some choose to watch movies to have their political anti-American views upheld. How sad.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By JasonMick on 5/24/2011 12:18:52 PM , Rating: 3
I was about to echo the same sentiment. Can't believe that piece of trash won awards.

The interesting part too is that the film's writer -- PlayBoy's Marc Boal -- lied and said the account was a work of fiction, when in fact he ripped off the story from true accounts told to him by a soldier (according to accusations).

So in other words Boal essentially stole the idea for the movie and now is suing the public for stealing his work.


RE: Cataclysmic BS
By YashBudini on 5/24/2011 1:57:15 PM , Rating: 2
Irony? Yes, but how about commonplace?

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By Iliketofrolic666 on 5/25/2011 2:44:20 AM , Rating: 2

Claim: Sophia Stewart won a large judgment in a copyright infringement suit over authorship of the film The Matrix.

Status: False.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By YashBudini on 5/26/2011 1:31:09 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By FITCamaro on 5/24/11, Rating: -1
RE: Cataclysmic BS
By Iaiken on 5/24/2011 2:01:33 PM , Rating: 5
Pretty accurate depiction I thought of what soldiers over there face

Really? I thought the theme to promote was fake heroism and self-pity where the invaders are the victims. I see it as a celebration of the lone lunatic in which killing is completely incidental. The main character is a psychopath who gets his high off violence in someone else's country and the suffering of it's people is put second to that of our soldiers.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By HoosierEngineer5 on 5/24/2011 4:49:57 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks, now I don't even have to go see the movie!

Wait, does that now put you in the Lawyers' crosshairs? You might have cost them $5000...

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By Iaiken on 5/24/2011 5:19:23 PM , Rating: 1
Holy shit! I can't wait to see that as an RIAA campaign...

"Don't spoil movies for others... or we'll sue you."

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By joex444 on 5/24/2011 2:21:42 PM , Rating: 4
I punch those numbers into my calculator and it makes a happy face.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By The Raven on 5/24/2011 4:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
Piracy = getting something for free that you otherwise have no interest in buying.

Also, we get ~8 hrs to sleep, ~8hrs to work, ~3hrs for meals, sometime for bathing, chores, BM, etc. This leaves us like <4 hours in a day. Factor in the weekends and that is an average of 5.5hrs/day to do whatever we want. Do they think it is a given that we just donate nearly 50% of said average day's free time? And if you agree with me that time is money, the value of those free hours is higher than your working wage.

So before they get into the nickles and dimes they should first be thankful that we spend our time on the stuff whether we pay for it or not. What is it they say about a tree falling in a forest where no one is around?

I'm not promoting piracy, but something needs to be said of the time that is put into watching. I mean in some way these people did actually pay for it (just not as much as the studios are asking).

But I guess they are more concerned about the fact that these same people are providing free distribution of their movies to people who would otherwise never pay to see their movies anyway.

RE: Cataclysmic BS
By gorehound on 5/24/2011 4:53:43 PM , Rating: 4
and how many of you will go near another voltage pictures again ?

i won't as i will be boycotting them.
and someone should do something against the old trick we did in the 70's was daily supergluing of locks on banks in protest.
harmless and a good anarchist prank

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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