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New Litigation Targets 20,000 BitTorrent-Using Downloaders

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the making-a-list-checking-it-twice dept.

The Courts 949

Hugh Pickens writes "The Hollywood Reporter reports that more than 20,000 individual movie torrent downloaders have been sued in the past few weeks in Washington, DC, federal court for copyright infringement, and another lawsuit targeting 30,000 more torrent downloaders on five more films is forthcoming in what could be a test run that opens up the floodgates to massive litigation against the millions of individuals who use BitTorrent to download movies. The US Copyright Group, a company owned by intellectual property lawyers, is using a new proprietary technology by German-based Guardaley IT that allows for real-time monitoring of movie downloads on torrents. According to Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the firm, the program captures IP addresses based on the time stamp that a download has occurred and then checks against a spreadsheet to make sure the downloading content is the copyright protected film and not a misnamed film or trailer. 'We're creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel,' says Jeffrey Weaver, another lawyer at the firm.""The difference between the MPAA's past approach and the new one being offered by the US Copyright Group is that the MPAA took a less targeted approach going after a smaller sampling of infringers in a single suit for multiple films, to send a message. In contrast, the US Copyright Group is using the new monitoring technology to go after tens of thousands of infringers at a time on a contingency basis in hopes of coming up with the right cost-benefit incentive to pursue individual pirates."

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Good thing (-1, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31679978)

While I know the usual piracy-crowd here on slashdot will mod me down, I'm happy they will do this. Widespread piracy is causing problems. There are already good equivalents so you don't need to resolve to piracy. I'd like to have some good alternative games, and when developers can again take a change and risk in their games, instead of the shit mainstream games. Piracy causes them not to do that.

Re:Good thing (4, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680002)

Also, please read the article for once:

the US Copyright Group, on behalf of an ad hoc coalition of independent film producers and with the encouragement of the Independent Film & Television Alliance. So far, five lawsuits have been filed against tens of thousands of alleged infringers of the films "Steam Experiment," "Far Cry," "Uncross the Stars," "Gray Man" and "Call of the Wild 3D." Here's an example of one of the lawsuits -- over Uwe Boll's "Far Cry."

This is INDIE film makers suing. Not MPAA, not Hollywood. Indies.

Re:Good thing (5, Funny)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680104)

It must be insult to injury to get sued over an Uwe Boll film. Not only did they watch it, but they got sued for doing so. Nobody needs that!

Re:Good thing (5, Funny)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680172)

It must be insult to injury to get sued over an Uwe Boll film. Not only did they watch it, but they got sued for doing so. Nobody needs that!

It's like getting kicked in the balls after consuming a large meal consisting entirely of broken glass bottles.

Re:Good thing (4, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680320)

Want to put a stop to this - don't sue, just publish the names of people who spent time downloading and presumably *shudder* watching films by Uwe Boll.

Re:Good thing (2, Funny)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680400)

The shame involved must be incredible - public records proving that you downloaded a Uwe Boll movie. The only time I'd be willing to settle for whatever amount they wanted in an attempt to keep it from going to court.

Re:Good thing (0, Flamebait)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680464)

Hell, I one time given a burned copy, of a torrented version, of Equilibrium [imdb.com] , and still felt cheated!

Re:Good thing (5, Insightful)

Ajaxamander (646536) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680580)

You must not have watched it, then.

Re:Good thing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680126)

Shooting yourself in the foot, 20000 law suits at a time. Apparently the independents are not more down to earth than the MPAA, just less successful. Way to ruin a reputation.

Re:Good thing (4, Interesting)

the_bard17 (626642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680594)

Does someone have a list a of filmmakers that use the "U.S. Copyright Group"? I'd love to send out a few handwritten letters explaining why I'll never spend a dime on one of their products again.

Re:Good thing (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680192)

Yeah, so?

Just because they're 'INDIE' doesn't make their abuse of the legal system in a flawed attempt to 'monetize the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel' any less immorally reprehensible.

So I'll simply avoid giving them my money, as well.

Re:Good thing (1)

mccrew (62494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680574)

Quoth the piracy apologist, "So I'll simply avoid giving them my money, as well."

Oh really? So right up until you heard about this you were paying for legal access to indie content, were you? Of course you were.

Re:Good thing (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680628)

Not to mention the spreadsheet abuse outlined in the summary. Won't somebody think of the databases?

Re:Good thing (2, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680238)

Also note that the .torrent file does not contain enough information to verify the legal status of the content. My guess is they download everything they suspect might be theirs.

If they do this, does that mean they're wide open for countersuits by anyone uploading their wedding movies? I'm guessing their death will be quick and painless, seeing how they must do willful copyright infringement on a massive scale.

Re:Good thing (2, Funny)

mccrew (62494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680514)

This is INDIE film makers suing. Not MPAA, not Hollywood. Indies.

So it's OK to rip off Hollywood but not the independents?

Re:Good thing (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680708)

This is INDIE film makers suing. Not MPAA, not Hollywood. Indies.

So it's OK to rip off Hollywood but not the independents?

Well the usual argument from pirates is that they don't want to support mainstream hollywood movies but indies. I guess this puts a new perspective to them.

Re:Good thing (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680656)

This whole mess is just sad commentary on how incredibly poor the state of the indie film industry really is. Call it piracy or whatever, what you're seeing is market forces in play: Consumers are making a clear statement that they are not willing to pay for the current indie offerings. We've traveled a long, long way from the glory days of the early Sundance festivals.

Re:Good thing (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680060)

> There are already good equivalents so you don't need to resolve to piracy.
Depends. For the indie studios in the article perhaps. But for mainstream stuff it's hard to find movies that ad-laden DRM-encumbered crap.

Re:Good thing (5, Insightful)

TyFoN (12980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680150)

What "good alternative" can I use to watch high-def movies stored on my home server via my networked media tank or laptop etc?
As long as the pirates provide a better product than the studios, the customers will turn to the pirates.

Re:Good thing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680300)

I think this is what most don't understand. I am the type of pirate that does it for convenience. There is no other method of accessing movies that is as convenient as piracy, and I don't see anything coming in the near future that can come even close to allowing me to easily watch movies in multiple places in my home or on the road. With a downloaded .mkv, I can watch any movie I have on any TV in my home or on any computer in the world at the press of a button. I would love to see a viable legal alternative to my current setup, but it will never exist due to the luddites in charge of the movie companies.

Re:Good thing (2, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680504)

What "good alternative" can I use to watch high-def movies stored on my home server via my networked media tank or laptop etc?

Why is the parent modded insightful? If you want high-def movies on your home server, buy the Blu-ray disc and a Blu-ray player, and rip the movie to your server. Most people will say that this is completely legal, and even if some companies say it isn't, it's still conscionable and untraceable.

Re:Good thing (3, Informative)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680658)

"Why is the parent modded insightful?" I know I'm going off-topic here, but I thought I should point this out: Slashdot's moderation system stipulates that individuals cannot assign mod points and comment in the same thread (for good and obvious reasons). What this means is that questions like the one quoted above will NEVER RECEIVE A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

Re:Good thing (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680716)

Most people will say that this is completely legal

Congress says it's illegal. The courts agree with them. What most people say is utterly immaterial.

If you want high-def movies on your home server, buy the Blu-ray disc and a Blu-ray player, and rip the movie to your server.

Do you know the ins and outs of HDCP in this senario? I don't. How about circumventing AACS, BD+, and BD-Mark, whatever that is?! All problems I don't have to face if I choose not to be a customer.

But, even assuming I can circumvent all of the DRM, I can pay to get the movie to my hard drive. Or not. I break the law either way. There may be rational reasons to buy the disc, but the adversarial relationship the movie studios have cultivated with their customers (and potential customers, and ex-customers) doesn't seem to encourage people to do the "right" thing.

For the record, I own over 60 Blu-ray discs, because I enjoy the picture quality more than I enjoy having them on a hard drive.

-Peter

Re:Good thing (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680156)

Bullshit.
Piracy costs nothing, the kids that do this were not going to buy those movies or games either way.

As for good equivalents please tell me where I can buy DRM free videos. Even DVDs are not DRM free.

I am not a pirate, I only break the law by using libdvdcss to watch my legally rented netflix dvds.

Re:Good thing (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680212)

Piracy costs nothing, the kids that do this were not going to buy those movies or games either way.

Is this why many of my friends parents ask them to burn a movie or tv show for them? You think 40-50 year olds with a job wouldn't had bought them otherwise?

Re:Good thing (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680424)

"You think 40-50 year olds with a job wouldn't had bought them otherwise?"

Yes, if the movie is too cheap for them to have seen in the theaters. Let's see some proof that they would have purchased the movie -- that is the claim these companies are making, right? Prove that these companies are suffering. I have trouble believing that they could operate at a loss year after year and not go out of business.

Re:Good thing - from someone in 40-50 y.o. demog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680688)

Speaking as someone in the 40-50 demographic, i now only download movies.

Let's see how long it takes for a Guardaley (the offending party)workaround to emerge as a plugin for torrent programs.

It's free as in free because we can.

Re:Good thing (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680508)

I look forward to the day that people are forced to stop downloading/pirating music and videos. It would be awesome to see the look on legislators faces when they are told: look, no increase in profits. Told you so, there was no loss in profits to begin with. Now, undo all that crap that you did to protect a dying industry that doesn't even know it's own customer base well enough to stay in business. If you don't undo it, I'm going to get all my pirate friends to spend their efforts on getting you unelected rather than on worrying about downloading things. See, on the one hand you get a nice summer vacation from the entertainment industry and on the other hand, you lose your job. You pick.

Re:Good thing (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680200)

So where's the free software DRM-free alternative to watch movies and which works outside the U.S.?

Re:Good thing (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680304)

"Widespread piracy is causing problems."

Prove it. You may find this difficult to do, since movie studios routinely lie about operating at a loss:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting [wikipedia.org]

Re:Good thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680338)

Problems..........

Like um..... causing some rich people to not make quite as much money as they might have.... maybe...

Yeah... That's not a problem i can give a crap about really. Spin it all you want. It still comes down to greed. Ours and theirs.

Re:Good thing (5, Funny)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680442)

We aren't creating problems, we're creating solutions! By pirating, we are creating jobs for thousands of lawyers, paralegals and entrepreneurs who are seeking to end the very thing keeping them employed!

We are saving the economy and the american way. Join us.

Re:Good thing (4, Interesting)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680480)

These discussions always devolve into pro- and anti-piracy rhetoric, but I have a question.

I actually agree in principle that piracy is wrong. But where I have a problem is with their method of determining guilt. I wish Ray Beckerman or one of the other attorneys here would explain to me how they can *prove* that I, and I alone, am the one responsible for an illegal download with an IP address???

Unless I'm the only one in the house and unless I have a static IP address, how can they *prove* that it's me? And even in that case, what if someone sneaks into my home during the day (maybe I gave the neighbor a key to watch my cats while I was on vacation one time). That's what worries me.

It would be the height of irony for ME to one day get thumped for this, when I AM opposed to piracy. But I could see it happening -- suppose I open a wireless access point at my house, taking reasonable care to secure it, but someone manages to hack in and download copyrighted material without my consent? Why am I liable for that? I'm a VICTIM, not a criminal!!!!

When someone is pulled for speeding, it's the *driver* who is ticketed, not the owner of the car. In fact, speeding tickets are routinely thrown out of court simply because the arresting officer couldn't prove that he/she had the vehicle under constant observation after clocking them at an illegal speed. There's always a chance that the car changed drivers while it was unobservable.

Why doesn't the same principle apply here?

Re:Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680682)

Lol, the city provides a certain geographical area free wireless. I use a laptop, not my desktop to download, and I change out my wireless card every couple of months. Good luck suing me. Stupidity and a waste of time IMNSHO. (AC because I modded this thread already)

They Suck (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31679990)

These types of lawyers give other types of lawyers an even worse name.

And before you sue me for that statement I'm sure that there is some sort of 'fair use' or 'truth' defense, so phfffft!

Re:They Suck (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680138)

I'm wondering how they intend to process all those submissions. What if they actually do manage to book everyone in, and everyone decides to go to trial? Can they afford that? It's a pretty ballsy move. Maybe the judicial system will decide that enough is enough. Who knows? It will be interesting to watch.

Re:They Suck (4, Funny)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680474)

Looks like a DDOS on the justice system.

Re:They Suck (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680186)

These types of lawyers give other types of lawyers an even worse name.

Just like cops, bad the 99% ruin it for everyone.

Re:They Suck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680210)

Thieves always want to steal and then say give some justification.

Doesnt mean stealing is right - just means the thief has found some plausible loophole.

How long do you plan to keep stealing someone else's property ?? I thought copyrights, patents and trademarks had value.

Patent Value? pfft. (0)

Aklyon (1398879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680506)

I thought copyrights, patents and trademarks had value.

You obviously don't pay attention to these things. if they actually had value or worth, the MAFIAA, Hollywood, and a few stupid game companies wouldn't know how stupid DRM is because it wouldn't exist, and the MAFIAA wouldn't be called that because their job wouldn't be to sue people, it would be whatever its supposed to be.

Re:They Suck (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680516)

...except no one is "stealing" anything.

That is just lying on your part as an attempt to create a bit of melodrama.

Although even if we accept that idea that you want us all to swallow that
BT downloads are the same as shoplifting, you are still left with the
problem of grossly disproportionate "punishments" and an end result that
looks like Sharia Law more than anything else.

"We're creating a revenue stream..." (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680028)

"...and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel."

The equivalent of a distribution channel where tens of thousands get movies for free, but then a randomly selected group has to pay a hundred times the cost of the movie in litigation fees.

At least they're innovating...

WTF are they thinking? (4, Informative)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680046)

I'm still unclear on the business benefit to the MPAA companies that comes from suing their customer base. This isn't going to win them any friends and is even less likely to increase their profits. It was stupid when they were suing dozens of people - but stepping this lunacy up to 50,000 lawsuits looks more like a death wish than "monetizing the alternate channel".

Re:WTF are they thinking? (0)

trevorgensch (185962) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680080)

People downloading movies are not the studios customer base. These are the people who aren't paying to go and see the movie anyway. Studios lose very little by pursuing downloaders. They would have never got their money anyway.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (0)

jadin (65295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680118)

I'm still unclear on the business benefit to the MPAA companies that comes from suing their customer base.

I don't mean to disagree with your post, but I want to ask : Are 'pirates' who most likely never purchase or rent said movies, still considered "customers"?

Re:WTF are they thinking? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680250)

It was argued in a thread the other day that they are customers, but I disagree. If you steal/take/pirate/etc then you're not really a customer. On the other hand, if you're a producer of content and then you prevent your actual customers from making legitimate copies of your content (backups, copy of a CD for the car and at home, etc) then you're not really a producer - you're a greedy corporate parasite trying to squeeze unearned revenue out of legitimate customers.

What do you get when you try to squeeze your customers in unfair and unreasonable ways? Piracy, um, non-paying customers.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (5, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680144)

I'm still unclear on the business benefit to the MPAA companies that comes from suing their customer base.

The objective is to scare all the people currently pirating into buying.

I would have thought that would be pretty obvious.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680296)

The objective is to scare all the people currently pirating into buying.

I disagree. It is to scare all the people currently pirating into not pirating. These are not people who are looking to buy the movies so they will just go without.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680396)

I disagree. It is to scare all the people currently pirating into not pirating.

A pointless objective because it gains them nothing.

These are not people who are looking to buy the movies so they will just go without.

That seems a rather naive assertion.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (3, Insightful)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680288)

People who are illegally downloading and distributing their works are not a part of their customer base. You have to *buy* something to be a customer.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680374)

I'm still unclear on the business benefit to the MPAA companies that comes from suing their customer base.

The studio's customer base - by definition - buys theater tickets, DVD or Blu Ray disks. Rents from Blockbuster or Netflix. Subscribes to HBO and PPV. Watches add supported videos.

The paying customer dictates what sort of film can be produced and how much money can safely be borrowed to fund it. The downloader has no say in any of this.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680436)

The multiple comments saying that the pirates weren't going to buy or pay to see these movies anyway - this doesn't make any sense, either. If they don't cost anything (the information was "free") and they're not a source of income then why should the studios bother with them? What they're really trying to do is to set an example - and they'll accomplish that very well with this level of attack. I don't think they realize what example they're setting, though - and what it'll mean for their companies going forward. In the business world being known for the number of lawsuits you file against people is the kiss of death. Nobody wants to do business with a company that might turn around and sue them next.

Re:WTF are they thinking? (-1, Flamebait)

mccrew (62494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680660)

I'm still unclear on the business benefit to the MPAA companies that comes from suing their customer base.

I'm still unclear on the business benefit to the MPAA companies that comes from suing the lazy leeches with a bellicose sense of entitlement who feel entitled to illegally appropriate their hard earned property.

FTFY. All clear now?

"massive litigation" (5, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680048)

If the only way to keep a business model working is to "open up the floodgates to massive litigation" then we should take a close look at why our society keeps those businesses afloat.

Personally, I think the basic reason we built the amazing companies in the "entertainment industry" is that distribution used to be difficult, and it required a lot of capital to set up channels to get media to consumers. This is no longer true; & the other reason - funding the creation of great media - obviously does not create enough value to justify the business that many of these companies continue to sue to protect.

Re:"massive litigation" (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680340)

Also, they used to produce a quality product. Most of the dreck they spew forth isn't worth watching, let alone purchasing. How many bad remakes of originally mediocre films can Hollywood pump out? Too many, that's how many.

Re:"massive litigation" (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680382)

"If the only way to keep a business model working is to "open up the floodgates to massive litigation" then we should take a close look at why our society keeps those businesses afloat."

It probably has something to do with the fact that those businesses have tremendous lobbying power and wield greater influence over the government than the citizens themselves. It is time for people to wake up and start electing politicians that work for the benefit of the people rather than the benefit of the corporations.

Re:"massive litigation" (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680404)

Distribution isn't expensive. Content creation is expensive.

Re:"massive litigation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680542)

Content creation is expensive.

Not necessarily. Besides, the issue isn't the costs but rather whether or not the market is free or corrupt.

Re:"massive litigation" (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680488)

It's the classic corporate-welfare strategy: you failed in the market, so get the government to force people to pay you.

Lawyers Put Their Motivation Succinctly (1)

nathanielinbrazil (1774720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680056)

"We're creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent..." What a surprise. As opposed to pursuing the protection claimed, my brethren offer their true motivation.

Checks against a spreadsheet (2, Funny)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680120)

Checks against a spreadsheet! What kind of Mickey Mouse organization is this anyway? Don't they know they could haul in 10x more pirates with a proper database backend. Maybe it helps the lawyers boost their billable hours if they can have an intern do as much manual work as possible.

"Sue fucking everyone" (3, Insightful)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680128)

Good thing enabling encryption only requires checking a single box.

Re:"Sue fucking everyone" (5, Informative)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680408)

This isn't a network sniffing thing. They connect to the swarm just like any other user. Encryption is there to prevent man in the middle sniffing in an attempt to evade ISP throttling. Encryption won't help you here.

Re:"Sue fucking everyone" (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680700)

Unfortunately encryption doesn't even prevent that anymore.

Re:"Sue fucking everyone" (1)

Aphex Junkie (633436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680416)

Encryption only fixes third-party snooping/throttling.
Malicious peers can use encryption too :)

Re:"Sue fucking everyone" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680422)

Uh. That checkbox offers absolutely no protection from these sorts of lawsuits.

Re:"Sue fucking everyone" (1)

stoanhart (876182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680522)

Too bad that doesn't help in the slightest.

Your IP is still showing up in the swarm for whatever file they are monitoring. Plus, if the legal copyright holders seed to you, they KNOW what was inside the encrypted stream. The only way around this is through a proxy, and you have to trust the proxy not to give up your details if the authorities come a-knocking.

Re:"Sue fucking everyone" (4, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680646)

if the legal copyright holders seed to you, they KNOW what was inside the encrypted stream.

If the legal copyright holder is offering a free download (seeding) then should they sue you for accepting their offer?

Re:"Sue fucking everyone" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680570)

You're a fool if you think the built in encryption does anything to protect you against litigation. It is designed solely to prevent throttling on your connection. Anyone connected to the tracker can see the full IP list of all people downloading the torrent.

Oh man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680130)

http://reporter.blogs.com/files/complaint-boll-ag-_far-cry_.pdf

I hope the judges recognize that whoever downloaded Uwe Boll's movies has suffered enough already. Have these lawyers no shame?

Lawsuits as revenue stream? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680146)

Since when are lawsuits intended as a revenue stream? I thought they were supposed to be reparations for real damages incurred with a side of punitive hand slapping.

I'm all for shutting down pirates, and sending the message that expensive to produce media isn't free. But specifically "monetizing" the lawsuits, in the hope of getting rich off pirates? That just reeks of evil.

Re:Lawsuits as revenue stream? (2, Interesting)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680406)

It's sort of like patent trolling. The company has no legitimate business activity except to act as an entity that can be "damaged" such that they can sue for damages. Remember that guy who got a bad paint job on his BMW and sued and won a 2 million dollar judgment [findlaw.com] ? It's a bit like these companies are hunting around for cars with bad paint jobs and buying them for double the retail value, not because they need to drive somewhere, but just so they can get the rights to sue for the "damage".

Downloading tickets (1)

lazorz (1544583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680174)

Next logical step is for this to evolve into a sort of a speeding ticket system. You get caught - pay a nominal fee and get X points on your name. Get caught enough times and they sue big time, till then you just keep paying nominal fees.

Not sure how I feel about it, but it sure as hell sounds more reasonable than suing 8-5 $35k/year crowd, kids with $5/hr dish-washing jobs and stay-at-home moms for millions of dollars.

hahaha... (1)

el_tedward (1612093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680176)

Too bad my university doesn't keep logs =]

Can we bill them for the court's time? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680178)

Can we bill them for the court's time? If they are going to use the court system to "create an alternative revenue stream", they can damn sure pay for the costs of handling all that paperwork. If an average citizen decided to do this (by using the court system to send out tens of thousands of nastygrams and collecting on the handful that pay) they'd be facing serious-ass jail time.

I wonder... (5, Interesting)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680180)

A while back, a colleague and I had a discussion about unauthorized downloading, and I quipped something to the effect that I would avoid infringement penalties by buying the content and then ripping it. He, OTOH, asked why. Why would I pay for something I could legally record from broadcast for free.

There's an interesting double standard here:

  • Recording a song or a movie from the radio or tv is not only legal, but explicitly so (IANAL, but I'm pretty sure the audio home recording act makes this legal).
  • OTOH, downloading it from a non-broadcast source (i.e. the internet), is supposedly copyright infringement, with steep statutory fines.

In both cases you've acquired the same content, in the same form, for the same price. But now we're supposed to believe that because it happens via the internet, a crime has been committed? That their business is now suddenly failing because people are doing the same thing they've done for years with tape players and vcrs?

The VCR didn't kill tv and movies. Nor did the tape player kill rock and roll. If you can't make a living as an artist in the era of mp3's and youtube, well, you couldn't have made a living back then, either. Stop blaming the Internet for your own failure.

Devil's Advocate Position (3, Insightful)

StrategicIrony (1183007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680272)

The Devils advocate position is that by requiring customers to wait for arbitrary showtimes and having an arbitrary limited selection pretty significantly impedes the flow of copied materials.

If I want to watch "Uncross the Stars" tonight, I don't have any way of doing that other than paying the movie companies (or downloading it).

In fact, I would wager that said movie will never be aired on any sort of television station that many people have.

So, while the concept of suing customers is unpalatable to me, as well as you, I disagree that it's "exactly the same thing" as a VCR.

Not directly comparable (0)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680318)

In the first, content providers have explicitly opted to broadcast it. Incidentally, I don't think sharing a recording you make is considered ok.

In the latter, content is being acquired and redistributed without permission.

A more direct comparison would be suing people for saving youtube videos to home storage that the publisher uploads. I don't think I've heard of someone saying they want to go after youtube users for things like youtube-dl.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680360)

Recording a song from the radio or tv does not have the same quality that you could possibly find on the internet. Given, some of the encoding done out on the wild wild internet is very questionable, it is usually not difficult to find a .flac or a un-reencoded 256kbit/s mp3. Radio and tv broadcasting audio uses compression - on top of highly compressed (mixing of) audio - leads to a horrible sounding song.

However - if you're not discriminating, yes it's exactly the same.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680698)

  • Recording a song or a movie from the radio or tv is not only legal, but explicitly so (IANAL, but I'm pretty sure the audio home recording act makes this legal).
  • OTOH, downloading it from a non-broadcast source (i.e. the internet), is supposedly copyright infringement, with steep statutory fines.

This sums pretty much up why "our friends" are pushing for the broadcast flag. That makes it de facto illegal to record it, since you will have to circumvent this copy protection device to do so. In other words: once the flag is set to one, home recording is over and done.

futile..! (2)

Becausegodhasmademe (861067) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680218)

Litigation, even on this scale is unlikely to prevent piracy. As anti-piracy technology and techniques evolve, so will the technology and methods used in filesharing. How long until we have BitTorrent with TOR and encryption built in? The copyright juntas will always be chasing the pirates tails, and unfortunately they're likely to continue throwing money at hopeless schemes like this until they've bankrupted themselves, rather than develop a successful business model for the 21st century.

Profitdemocracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680228)

Yes use american tax payer money to pay to sue them... The power of fake democracy is great!

Anyway after watching the latest ep of 24 and hearing that governments number priority is to protect its citizens its good to see USA doing what it does best, protect the people that lobby the most corrupt senate in the world....

hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680230)

"Then checks against a spreadsheet to make sure the downloading content is the copyright protected film and not a misnamed film or trailer."

How the hell does that work?

Re:hmm... (1)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680546)

They cross-check against a powerpoint presentation, of course.

Predictions (1)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680310)

From the article:

In addition, there are questions about IP addresses being an identifier of a pirate since users can steal or borrow another's IP address to commit file infringement.

Time to invest in proxies.

Flaws (1)

muphin (842524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680316)

now suing everyone who they detect downloading a film can be beneficial, they're opening themselves up to a world of hurt.

Technology these days allows routing pretty much through a toaster, many courts have said (not US) that an IP address is NOT an identifiable piece of information, some other courts also have rules that IP and any personal information should remain private unless court ordered to do so. So in turn they would need to get 20,000 court orders for identifying names, and then 20,000 summons .... tying up courts for small matters of downloading (compared to murder, fraud and assault), also considering proxies, TOR, encrypted traffic, peer blocking there are so many ways technology overcomes this "tracking" that if taken to court the burned of proof, potential for technical flaws and other aspects will make most cases moot.

I can see many judges just dismissing these cases just cause of the shear number of them. The industry may look at the numbers and think ok 20,000 people = $20 million in revenue, they dont think ahead and consider the social and legal implications.

Something I've Always Wondered... (1, Insightful)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680326)

Say your name is the one your Comcast account is under, but someone else such as a roommate is pirating movies. Who then is identified by the law firm as the pirate? I have always wondered this. I don't download pirated material due to it being a big hassle and worries about viruses, etc., but I have no control over what other people in my household do on their own machines.

what about wireless? (2, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680548)

Say your name is the one your Comcast account is under, but someone else such as a neighbor leeching on your wireless network ...

Re:Something I've Always Wondered... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680650)

Say your name is the one your Comcast account is under, but someone else such as a roommate is pirating movies. Who then is identified by the law firm as the pirate?

I have always wondered this. I don't download pirated material due to it being a big hassle and worries about viruses, etc., but I have no control over what other people in my household do on their own machines.

You are liable for the actions that occur on your line. If you can prove that your roommate did it, you may be able to convince the *IAA to sue him instead, or sue him yourself for your losses. But at root, its like the electric bill: it's your name on the contract and your responsibility to pay for it.

Ohh.. car analogy time!

If you loan your roommate your car and he is involved in a hit-and-run accident, who is liable? The car can be traced back to you by the DMV records, and is found sitting in your driveway... leaving you to prove that it was your roommate and not yourself actually driving at the time of the accident.

Re:Something I've Always Wondered... (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680654)

That would probably be you, the holder of the account. You and your lawyer would then lay out these facts during the pre-trial process and force the plaintiff to provide convincing evidence to contradict them. If they can't, you win. If they can, you lose.

If all this sounds like a pain in the ass, it is. Consider it an incentive to make some effort to monitor who is doing what in your name on the internet.

I'm not saying this is right, I'm just trying to answer your question. (Although I'm also not sure it's wrong.)

(I am not a lawyer, but I am a law student. Either way, I hope it's clear that I'm not your lawyer and that this is not professional legal advice. End of annoying disclosure.)

I know how to increase movie revenues (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680366)

All the MPAA has to do is get me a girlfriend and I'll gladly spend 10 to go out and see a movie. Until then its torrents from my parents basement using my neighbors wifi connection.

Re:I know how to increase movie revenues (0, Troll)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680622)

If you expect to spend $10 on a girlfriend, it's no wonder you have no girlfriend.

how? (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680370)

Each of those soon to be 50,000 people is entitled to a jury trial. That's a LOT of resources tied up on this and for a long time. The logistics could get ugly. And this is supposedly just the test run that could open the floodgate?

The courts will have a choice. Either shred any semblance of justice, reject this litigative spam, or devote itself exclusively to these suits and hope they get to the last of them before the revolution comes.

Re:how? (1)

Mistakill (965922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680418)

yeah i was wondering how the courts will handle 50000 court cases

Re:how? (3, Interesting)

Delwin (599872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680640)

inverse class action?

Where is the evidence? (1)

Mojo66 (1131579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680478)

Shouldn't it be enough for the defendant to deny the possession of the media in question? I hardly expect the police to execute tens of thousands of search warrants, therefore the most important part is missing: the evidence.

Dear Judge (0)

asamad (658115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680552)

Hi

I am sorry I stopped the download once I realised what it was - never downloaded the whole thing, never able to play it - prove otherwise :)

Does 1-2,094 (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680586)

Now how are these first 2094 does even going to know they've been sued? Oh wait, they don't need to know; they are presumed guilty by the plaintiff.

An invasion of privacy?? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680694)

Couldn't this proprietary software package being used to track downloads be construed as a wire tap ergo inadmissible in a court of law?
Or is this AC being a silly little AC again?

With love

The Anonymous Coward

Open wireless access points are everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31680714)

How can they prove the person responsible for this and it is not some kid in the neighborhood. Seems they would need
1. the log from the stream source
2. Evidence that you have the pirated movie

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