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How a Virginia Law Firm Outpaces the MPAA at Suing Over Movie Downloads

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the shame-if-anything-was-t'-happen dept.

Movies 237

Jamie points out this Ars Technica piece on a series of suits brought by the Virginia law firm of Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver against users they accuse of illegally downloading movies. The firm has an interesting business model in these suits; sue enough users in a DC Federal court to be worth splitting the sum of many small settlement offers (generally $1,500-2,500 apiece) with the filmmakers, rather than rely on winning after trial a small number of larger judgments. Most people settle, and Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver has so far named more than 14,000 "Does" — as in John Doe — including, as mentioned a few days ago, 5,000 who downloaded The Hurt Locker.

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237 comments

worth a read (4, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432718)

I found this on the topic: the actual settlement form. Read it all at http://www.copyrightsettlement.info/wfesettlement.pdf [copyrightsettlement.info]

Payment. You shall pay to the Company the total, lump sum of Two Thousand Five Dollars (US $2,500) by cashier’s check or credit card with no charge back or check cancellation.

Confidentiality. You agree that the terms of this Agreement shall remain STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL and MAY NOT be disclosed to any other party including but not limited to internet or on-line forums.

So don't go post this on slashdot or you'll owe this lawfirm $15,000!

--
The Founder Conference'2010 [thefounderconference.com]

Re:worth a read (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432850)

So don't go post this on slashdot or you'll owe this lawfirm $15,000!

That's not true. If you post about this on Slashdot, you just cannot automatically opt for the settlement. You still have the option to fight this in a court of law if you feel that you are innocent and publicize that as much as you desire. Once you go public though, you cannot select that settlement option. Also I think the plaintiff would aim a court decision more between $150,000 or $1.5 million though from what we've seen with prior cases that go to court where the individual is found guilty.

Re:worth a read (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433830)

Also I think the plaintiff would aim a court decision more between $150,000 or $1.5 million though from what we've seen with prior cases that go to court where the individual is found guilty.

Not so sure about the court decision, but they'll almost certainly sue for the maximum of $150,000/work. Obviously they are going for a min-max strategy here and they want a lawsuit to look as unappealing as possible.

Re:worth a read (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433946)

Also I think the plaintiff would aim a court decision more between $150,000 or $1.5 million though from what we've seen with prior cases that go to court where the individual is found guilty.

Not so sure about the court decision, but they'll almost certainly sue for the maximum of $150,000/work. Obviously they are going for a min-max strategy here and they want a lawsuit to look as unappealing as possible.

Not if they don't own the rights to the work or represent someone who does.

Re:worth a read (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432916)

Surely the confidentiality agreement only comes into force once you have signed the contract? Especially since you had no previous relationship with the law firm and as such it would effectively be spam.

So which is it? (1)

nathan s (719490) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433448)

Two Thousand Five Dollars (US $2,005) or Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars (US $2,500)?

Nice that the settlement form is not even clear...

Re:worth a read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433486)

"Two Thousand Five Dollars", isn't that $2,005 instead of $2,500?

(just my 500 cents)

Re:worth a read (2, Interesting)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434180)

My lawyer would tell me that it's not worth bothering for less than $2500, so they've got a reasonable plan there.

It would take far more to fight that in court, even in Canada, where we've got that loser-pay system.

Bizarre Editor Abuse? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432726)

I submitted this same exact story [slashdot.org] referencing the same exact Slashdot article on the Hurt Locker this morning around 7am and it instantly went to being the lowest color any of my submissions have ever been at (jet black). So I was pretty sure I had done something wrong enough to attract the attention of an editor. When I submit stories I check for the story in firehose and by google searching Slashdot and this wasn't there. I didn't get the popup for duplicate URL submission either ... I guess Jamie or someone just really wanted to claim the scoop on this story. What's even more bizarre is that the summary seems to be misdirected at Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver when it's actually a larger set of plaintiffs composing the US Copyright Group [copyrightsettlement.info]. That's who is listed as behind the ~15,000 lawsuits. Oh well ...

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (4, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432832)

I don't bother submitting anything on /. b/c I *know* it's a waste of time.

Some users are favoured over all others.
This is the same for all blogs.

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433024)

I agree, I've posted several articles to slashdot before as well, and they either get ignored to resurface 2 weeks later by someone else, or never surface at all. The editors can lick my nuts.

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (2, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433080)

True. People complain about the Wiki editor cabal. The submitter cabal on /. is almost as bad, except that they can't get into a vicious edit war with you. Abusive moderation, perhaps.

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433436)

Quit yer whinin.

I've submitted stories and got rejected without explanation. Sort of like Internet dating, and for the same reasons.

I pretty much don't bother to submit unless it caught my eye and seemed out of the norm for /. (interesting, out of the mainstream, and understandable to a normal person, yeah I know, pine inthe sky). /. is not a democracy. Get used to it. I vote with my page views, so if you're offended out there in /. admin land, you can get over it too. Happy, Visiting, or Complaining. Any 2 of the three. Logic need not apply.

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433846)

The journal I submitted got through (it was a question about PERL vs PHP for web development/security), that was my first one. I think I then posted my next journal as a story by mistake, but it got rejected anyway as it wasn't a question or story.

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433712)

What was that? I'm sorry - all I heard was "wah-wah-wah, went to the lowest, bla bla bla, poor me wah-wah-wah." Oh, nevermind. That pretty much covered it.

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433876)

should i call you a waaaahmbulance before your colostomy bag bursts?

Re:Bizarre Editor Abuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434218)

Slashdot sucks and the editors abuse their power? No!

Yeah.... (5, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432728)

In the case of The Hurt Locker, when you stand to make almost as much money suing 5,000 people for "stealing" your movie as it did at the box office, maybe you should have made a better movie.

This makes no sense... (2, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433390)

I know you are just being overly sarcastic and trying to get karma or something, but it just doesn't apply here. Why are you getting modded up for an unfunny, non-insightful comment that is flat out wrong? The Hurt Locker won the academy award this past year. I personally feel it rightfully deserved it, it was a fantastic movie! Light years better than Avatar, which had huge sales, and probably huge downloads as well.

Perhaps more people downloaded The Hurt Locker because they heard about it from the academy awards but it wasn't in most mainstream movie theaters? Perhaps the RIAA distribution model favors huge Avatar style blockbusters that appeal to the masses rather than well crafted intelligent works of art? Perhaps Hurt Locker didn't have the huge media blitz and the money to promote it that Avatar did?

Re:This makes no sense... (1)

Pastis (145655) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433502)

perhaps the people who want to see the hurt locker, prefer to see it at home than at the theater ?

Re:This makes no sense... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433524)

The Hurt Locker was a decent movie up until the ending, which was among the worst I've ever seen.

It certainly wasn't worthy of Best Picture, when you have films like Burma VJ that actually capture real human suffering and struggle, and some of the people who filmed it were likely imprisoned or killed.

Re:This makes no sense... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433570)

In 1990, New Kids on the Block had a number 1 hit on the Billboard charts. I'll say that again: New Kids on the Block had a number 1 hit.

First doesn't always mean best.

Re:This makes no sense... (4, Informative)

thijsh (910751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433634)

Don't be a smartass without looking up the numbers:
- Hurt locker box office: $ 16,4 million domestic (box office numbers [boxofficemojo.com])
- Hurt locker extortion: $ 12,5 million (2500 × 5000 and counting...)

I'd say that's a fairly significant amount of money, and should not be discarded as motive for this scam. If they are true artists they would not participate in this witch-hunt-for-pay against their own biggest fans.

Re:This makes no sense... (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433932)

I doubt the makers of the film have anything to do with it. It's far more likely to be the publishers/distributors.

Re:This makes no sense... (1)

za7ch (1559517) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434270)

Perhaps you're right. I know if I was an actor in the film or one of the makers I'd do *everything* to distance myself from whomever is responsible for this extortion. That said, I've not read anything like that and that's a damn shame.

Re:Yeah.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433462)

Mod parent up! Isn't it punishment enough to have watched The Hurt Locker?

Re:Yeah.... (1, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433476)

Why do you equate commercial success with critical success? The Hurt Locker won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director. It was a good movie even if the masses did not really go out to watch it.

Re:Yeah.... (2)

enilnomi (797821) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433564)

You're gonna have to clue me in on the joke... I mean, if the cost of settling for those 5,000 Does is $2,000 each, then that's $10M to split between the producers and lawyers. Hurt Locker has racked up about $48M in worldwide box office so far (against a production cost of $15M). How is $10M "almost as much money" as $48M? (Not to mention the $28M from DVD and BD sales.)

And, let's see....9 Oscar nominations with 6 wins, including Best Picture and Best Director; about 100 awards from groups that like to hand out prizes; 97% on Rotten Tomatoes; the praise of two Iraq veterans with whom I watched it...yeah, it's a crappy film. Are you forgetting that it's lowest-box-office-ever-for-Best-Picture status in large part stems from its extreme shortage of prints?

And just because it's slashdot....what's up with putting "stealing" in quotes? Are you saying that if I'm offering my car for sale and someone drives it away without paying, that my car hasn't been stolen? And that the fault for that is mine, by virtue of it not being a very good car? Oh wait, I get it -- Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal should be selling T-shirts at every venue, since making money from your actual art is so passé...

Re:Yeah.... (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433668)

You're gonna have to clue me in on the joke... I mean, if the cost of settling for those 5,000 Does is $2,000 each, then that's $10M to split between the producers and lawyers. Hurt Locker has racked up about $48M in worldwide box office so far (against a production cost of $15M). How is $10M "almost as much money" as $48M? (Not to mention the $28M from DVD and BD sales.)

You're right, it isn't.

And, let's see....9 Oscar nominations with 6 wins, including Best Picture and Best Director; about 100 awards from groups that like to hand out prizes; 97% on Rotten Tomatoes; the praise of two Iraq veterans with whom I watched it...yeah, it's a crappy film. Are you forgetting that it's lowest-box-office-ever-for-Best-Picture status in large part stems from its extreme shortage of prints?

I never once said it was crappy. I personally liked it...not enough for a best picture, but I liked it. Apparently, a LOT of other people didn't. Hence my post.

And just because it's slashdot....what's up with putting "stealing" in quotes? Are you saying that if I'm offering my car for sale and someone drives it away without paying, that my car hasn't been stolen?

You would no longer have access to your car, hence it would have been stolen. If someone took a copy of the DVD from a Virgin Megastore, that would be stealing, as it would prevent another person from having that same DVD.

Downloading a movie isn't stealing, as it isn't restricting your ability to obtain those exact same zeros and ones. It's illegal and immoral, but it isn't stealing.

Re:Yeah.... (-1, Troll)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434038)

It is STEALING. Look in the dictionary. A couple of the definitions fit.

If you want to redefine words to fit your own semantic needs, fine. But you don't need to be so darn pushy about it.

Re:Yeah.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434314)

Thankfully, the law disagrees with you, therefore making you an idiot.

Re:Yeah.... (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434030)

"...in large part stems from its extreme shortage of prints?" ...and they are now suing people for making copies? Now THAT'S funny!

Re:Yeah.... (1)

zerospeaks (1467571) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433784)

I downloaded it off bittorrent. I thought it was a pretty good movie! Not good enough to see in theaters though.

Re:Yeah.... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434288)

I caught it one night on-demand while spending a night at a friend's house. I actually kinda wish I had seen it in theaters...it seems like one of those movies where the large screen size is required for some of the impact.

Avatar actually suffers from this same fate...we have a pretty decent 42" flatscreen, but it wasn't nearly as engaging at home as it was on the big screen.

So In Essence (4, Insightful)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432758)

Don't download Indie movies anymore. I am sure word of mouth will still spread on how great those movies are...right?

Re:So In Essence (4, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432792)

Interesting, isn't it? Here, you have some indie film makers suing downloaders...and yet, many other indie film makers rely on downloaders to get the word out about their work. Other than Hurt Locker, I sure as hell never heard of the other movies.

I guess that's the difference between an artist and a professional?

Re:So In Essence (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433366)

Are they suing downloaders or uploaders? The story says downloaders, you say downloaders and nobody appears to dispute that. It is my understanding that downloading can not be proven, except by offering the upload, but then the data is downloaded from someone who has permission to distribute and downloading that isn't illegal. Aren't we really talking about uploads here, i.e. when P2P programs also offer the downloaded data back to others?

Re:So In Essence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433484)

I'm curious too, since I'm a horrible person with a special client that does not upload to other peers

Re:So In Essence (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433690)

Probably, but the distinction is almost gone with P2P. Since every uploader is also a downloader except the original torrent seeder...

Re:So In Essence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433806)

Interesting, isn't it? Here, you have some indie film makers suing downloaders...and yet, many other indie film makers rely on downloaders to get the word out about their work. Other than Hurt Locker, I sure as hell never heard of the other movies.

I guess that's the difference between an artist and a professional?

I think that would be a good thing, kill the pretentious Indie film makers because the word doesn't get out.

So don't download or watch Indie films; its probably not worth your time anyway.

Re:So In Essence (1)

Lythrdskynrd (1823332) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434142)

Come on! It's pretty obvious from the description alone that The Steam Experiment didn't need your help.

The Steam Experiment, 2,000 Does. A few days later, yet another suit hit the DC District Court. Production company West Bay One sued an even 2,000 Does over its film The Steam Experiment, also known as The Chaos Experiment. The film stars Val Kilmer. According to the Internet Movie Database plot summary, "A deranged scientist locks 6 people in a steam room and threatens to turn up the heat if the local paper doesn't publish his story about global warming."

in all seriousness though, I've read a lot about indie film finance and if they can earn 1/3 of $1.5 Million, that covers the cost of making the movie. Pretty much a no-brainer; much like "The Steam Experiment".

Seriously... (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432806)

Seriously, when is something going to be done about these guys? Their business model is built on "it costs more in legal fees for people to fight these accusations than to settle with us out of court so they'll just pay up" which, really, amounts to extortion. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how they are being allowed to get away with this shit. In a sane, logical world, somebody (the feds, the bar, whomever) would come down on them like a ton of bricks. Sadly, I don't think we live in a sane world any more...

At this point, I think I'm just holding out hope that a competing law firm will think things through and decide they can make money by suing these vulture law firms for harassment and whatever else they can drum up. After all, if those firms can make money just suing at random, surely another law firm can also make money counter-suing, right? Well, where is our white knight law firm who's eager to make a name for themselves? If the feds won't put a stop to it, maybe a last-to-sue war between legal firms can put a stop to it.

Re:Seriously... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32432964)

Seriously, when is something going to be done about these guys? Their business model is built on "it costs more in legal fees for people to fight these accusations than to settle with us out of court so they'll just pay up" which, really, amounts to extortion. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how they are being allowed to get away with this shit.

They don't, in other countries.

Switch country. The grass IS greener - really.

Re:Seriously... (2, Insightful)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432984)

Well, the main kink is that the defendants know they can't take them to court, win, and then sue them to recover court costs because the defendants (whether you agree with copyright law or not)know they committed an illegal act.

So it's really more a problem of whether the law should be the way it is then lawyers extorting people. If it's OK to get big companies to settle by threatening to take them to court when they've done something wrong it makes sense that it should work the other way around. The only reason people see this as extortion right now is that they don't agree with the law itself.

Re:Seriously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433120)

I believe that the issue here is that there is often next to no proof of these alleged acts actually occurring. If the charges are spurious, the average citizen still will not have the adequate funds to defend themselves from the claim.

In that case, the "settlement offer" may be their only option, regardless of their innocence.

Re:Seriously... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433166)

Admittedly, this doesn't apply to this, but here under state law the plaintiff has to demonstrate damages to collect anything. Which means that they'd have to prove that they're entitled to the money in order to win. So the most that you'd be out would be court costs, attorneys fees plus whatever the cost of the actual damages was. Because the cost of the damages is unlikely to exceed the threshold, they'd be more or less stuck arguing things in small claims court. Which also means no attorneys either.

Which is the way that it should be, but by the same token, that's state rather than federal. Sort of ironic that it's far more appropriate for handling these sorts of things rather than the Federal courts which seem to have been high jacked by corporatist misanthropes looking to more or less convict whenever possible.

Re:Seriously... - no... seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433518)

downloading is NOT illegal.

providing for downloading is NOT illegal.

if you provide for download and somebody downloads, then you are in effect trafficking in stolen goods - then that's illegal.

Re:Seriously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433910)

So it's OK because kevinNCSU assumes everyone is guilty?

Re:Seriously... (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433036)

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how they are being allowed to get away with this shit.

Because our justice system is wholly subservient to business interests. It's not that hard to understand.

In a sane, logical world, somebody (the feds, the bar, whomever) would come down on them like a ton of bricks. Sadly, I don't think we live in a sane world any more...

Is this really what tipped you off? Were the hundreds of thousands of pot smokers in jail not enough?

Re:Seriously... (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433226)

Because our justice system is wholly subservient to business interests. It's not that hard to understand.

No, our justice system is wholly subservient to lawyers. It's just as common for individuals to exploit the system in the manner described by the GP as it is for businesses. The fact that it costs less to settle than to fight a lawsuit is leveraged by all manner of legal practices that have nothing to do with "business interests". In fact, some of them are directly opposed to "business interests", like the ambulance chaser that my insurance company settled with even though the accident was not my fault.

Re:Seriously... (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433280)

Yeah, and who hires the lawyers? The bigger the business, the more lawyers you can afford, and the more you can pervert the justice system.

Re:Seriously... (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433534)

You need to climb off your horse and realize that not every ill in this country can be blamed on business.

I got sued by someone who rear-ended me at a stop light. There is no conceivable way that accident can be attributed to my negligence. My insurance company settled with the asshole for $12,000 and then raised my rates. Their reason? It's cheaper to settle than to fight the lawsuit. The person who sued me was an individual who perverted the justice system. It had nothing to do with business.

Re:Seriously... (3, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434234)

You've changed insurance companies, right? I do know that 21st Century fights rather than pays. So that's who I picked after a similar thing happened to me.

Re:Seriously... (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434310)

That was with Esurance and I bailed on them a long time ago for this and other reasons. One of my favorite stunts they pulled was to change their billing date from 15 days before the policy renewed to 45 days prior without telling me. They sucked $800 out of my checking account on the basis of this change and my rent check bounced as a result. They refused to make it right until I got the NYS Insurance Department involved.

Now I'm with a smaller company [nycm.com]. Not sure how they would have handled the lawsuit but I do know they didn't surcharge me because of the not-at-fault accident. They were also $100/yr cheaper than Esurance for four times as much liability coverage ($250,000/$500,000 split limit vs $1,000,000 combined single limit)

Re:Seriously... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434398)

If the lawyers are in charge, why don't we pass a law requiring insurance companies to fight it out in court? Certainly that would benefit the lawyers by making more work for them fighting the original offense *and* make more work for them suing companies that fail in their duty to protect their customers. Such a law should be easy to pass, since lawyers control the legal system, and this law would *never* be blocked by lawmakers who finance their campaigns with donations from the industries that would be burdened under such a system. Right?

Re:Seriously... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433296)

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how they are being allowed to get away with this shit.

Because our justice system is wholly subservient to business interests. It's not that hard to understand.

In a sane, logical world, somebody (the feds, the bar, whomever) would come down on them like a ton of bricks. Sadly, I don't think we live in a sane world any more...

Is this really what tipped you off? Were the hundreds of thousands of pot smokers in jail not enough?

And here we are, at the real reason none of this will move forward. Instead of making substantive claims why this activity is illegal or unconstitutional, it gets dragged toward another, completely unrelated debate where it is sure to die a slow death. Good job! Next time, if you want to actually make a point instead of rubbing salt in the wound, leave the pot alone!

Re:Seriously... (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433566)

I don't think it is completely unrelated. Marijuana prohibition began at the behest of the paper industry, and continues today because of the alcohol, pharmaceutical, and prison industries. If we're talking about the perversion of the justice system by business interests, it's worth pointing out that copyright abuses are the tip of the iceberg. As Americans we have to understand that we have an extremely serious problem with corruption that goes back for decades, if not centuries.

Re:Seriously... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433884)

As Americans we have to understand that we have an extremely serious problem with corruption that goes back for decades, if not centuries.

Nail, meet head. Can you really call it corruption if it's been going on *the whole time*???

You can't "correct" something that has always been the way it is. You need an approach other than "it should have always been legal" because no one attaches to that, even if they may agree with you. Slow and steady change that can't be refuted is the way to go. Look at gambling. Once a completely taboo business in any but two of the 50 states, it's now got a brick and mortar presence in half of the states in the US. How? Nice, slow change marked by appealing to the common good while mitigating the downsides. State lotteries, Horse and dog racing, Video poker. Before you know it, the problems have been solved (with respect to getting citizens to buy off on it) and it's open season.

How not to get your issue pushed forward?

"Pot should be legal 'cause, like, 'legalize it!' man. peace."

The same thing goes for these copyright cases. If the argument is self referential, you won't win; plain and simple.

Re:Seriously... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434252)

If you need to be convinced that marijuana prohibition is wrong, or that this type of copyright barratry is wrong, then I wasn't really addressing you. I wasn't trying to argue that these things are wrong, I was trying to address why these evils occur in our society. At this point, with this audience, I don't really need to argue that this is wrong. There are only a few people here who would disagree, and they're too far gone to reason with. I've had that discussion often enough.

Re:Seriously... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433054)

One factor is that most of the accused have actually committed copyright infringement. So even if they did defend themselves, they'd lose.

Re:Seriously... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434284)

You're forgetting about that pesky "innocent until proven guilty" clause. It is up to the accuser to prove the defendant guilty. The defendant can just sit there with his feet on the table and a dumb look on his face.

Wah!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433190)

Quit your fucking whining. They're only stealing back what you stole from them (profits) in the first place, you fucking crybaby.

Re:Seriously... (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433352)

How is this different from any other revolutionary business model success stories??? It always involves the consumers getting raped in some questionable way. Everyone always wonders why the hell it is possible that the business method is even legally possible, until the law is changed to account for this new method, and they see it as a challenge to stretch that law to the limits. Rinse and repeat.

The fact that the government does not protect it's citizens in this case (even after some years of exploiting this 'business model') only tells us something about the lobby (or in layman terms: big fucking bribes) of the media industry. Don't trust your government to protect you automagically, it will only happen if you demand it, and the only way to put some leverage behind your demands is with your vote (and votes of others around you). Please educate people of the possibility of voting a party who is looking out for the consumers and the artists alike (like the well known Pirate Party).

Re:Seriously... (1)

_EternaL_ (99362) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433654)

I don't know... this may be a novel concept, but... I'm guessing that if you don't break the law... you wont get taken to court. I mean, I'm not trying to judge anyone here myself. I'm not going to say I've never downloaded anything that might be questionable. What I am saying, is that when you take a risk, there are consequences. Is what they are doing, exploitation? Sure. How and why can they get away with it? Because you broke the law. It's really simple. If you don't agree with the law, get it changed. See if you can get the law to justify certain forms of theft. Or convince movie studios to charge less and put out better movies. Of course, the only way to do that is to hit them in the pocketbook which means not BUYING their movies, and downloading them for free instead. Catch 22 really. Just stop making it someone else's problem when you are being extorted because you've broken the law. It's called "Personal Responsibility".

That being said, I think I am going to go download the hurt locker now. Along with a couple other movies. And some porn. I hope I don't get sued!

Re:Seriously... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434052)

The problem is that most people under 30 or so do not see "copyright infringement" as any sort of law worth paying attention to. In first grade the teacher was downloading software without paying for it and pretty much every day in school the same lesson was reinforced, day after day.

Sure, it is illegal and you can be sued. You can also get a ticket for speeding but this has no effect whatsoever on half (or more) of the drivers on the road today. There is no respect for the content owners, whoever they are - it is assumed that it some fat old white guy with plenty of money that doesn't really need the extra profit of one more sale.

Re:Seriously... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434262)

If you get caught stealing a DVD from a store in Los Angeles, you'll be hit with up to a $400 fine. If you are a repeat offender, you may get up to 6 months in jail.

If you get caught downloading a DVD in Los Angeles, you'll be hit with $150,000 damages, an additional $100,000 fine, and legal fees (let's say 50k). Oh, and up to 1 year in jail, if pursued.

$400 for stealing a DVD, or $300,000 dollars for copying it. I think right there you have your problem.

S2S (5, Funny)

retardpicnic (1762292) | more than 3 years ago | (#32432846)

It seems as though they have found that splitting the file, whoops, lawsuit up into many pieces that can be individually downloaded, whoops dealt with in no particular order is a more efficient protocol, whoops, business model. What will they think of next?!

Re:S2S (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433014)

AKA the Sue-torrent business model:
Sue a bunch of people for small amounts w/o courts to collect a total higher than they would get by suing ONE person for large amounts in courts.

Reminds me of a scam were crooks were fake sending invoices to small companies for printer/copier toner cartridges that were never sent and demand payment. The scam worked because it was cheaper to pay the invoice(s) than paying a lawyer to go after them.

Re:S2S (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433356)

Reminds me of a scam were crooks were fake sending invoices to small companies for printer/copier toner cartridges that were never sent and demand payment. The scam worked because it was cheaper to pay the invoice(s) than paying a lawyer to go after them.

Why would you bother to do either? If it's truly a scam, are the crooks really going to hire a collection agency to harass you? They're not going to be able to put a black mark on your credit report, either.

I had a disaster of a DSL installation by AT&T about two years ago. Apparently the salesperson shouldn't have even offered my service in my area, but they did. Three technician visits and about three weeks later, I had had functioning service for a total of about 72 hours. I called and canceled, and sent my modem back in a prepaid box that it had come with.

A few weeks later, I got a bill for an entire month's service, plus a bill for the modem - they claimed I had never returned it. It ended up being something like $90. I called them up, essentially told them to go screw themselves, that I would pay for three days of prorated service since that was what I had used, and that they should send me a new bill with the correct total. I never heard from them again, and I certainly never paid them the $90 they falsely claimed I owed them.

Re:S2S (1)

Carthag (643047) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433866)

That's not how the scam works. They just work under the assumption that once a business reaches a certain size, the board/owners/whoever doesn't sign off on every single thing anymore. So some invoice for 100 dollars or whatever, a secretary or somebody is authorized to pay it. And if it looks legit enough it might get paid without a second thought. So if you send out small invoices to thousands of companies and say 200 end up paying, that's a pretty decent ROI.

Usually it's about something like being listed on some webpage or in some pamphlet so they can say they actually provided a service, though.

Re:S2S (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433184)

I do wonder if this sort of reverse class action suit is even legal. I don't think that a law firm ought to be able to bundle that many defendants together without having to at least demonstrate that there's a link between them other than allegedly infringing upon the same material.

What are the odds? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433038)

Lets say I have a friend who downloaded this movie early this year through bit torrent, using Comcast. What do you suppose are the odds he'll get nailed with a lawsuit?

tell em what you think (1)

merockstar (1718498) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433046)

if you want.

http://www.dglegal.com/contact [dglegal.com]

Attorney Emails (4, Informative)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433224)

* Dunlap, Thomas M - tdunlap@dglegal.com vcard
        * Dureska, Geoffrey M. - gdureska@dglegal.com
        * Grubb, Daniel L. - dgrubb@dglegal.com
        * Ludwig, David - dludwig@dglegal.comvcard
        * Kurtz, Nicholas A. - nkurtz@dglegal.com
        * Novel, Sur - snovel@dglegal.com
        * Policasti, Eugene - epolicasti@dglegal.com
        * Tate, Christopher F. - ctate@dglegal.com
        * Weaver, Jeffrey William - jweaver@dglegal.com
        * Whitticar, Michael C. - mwhitticar@dglegal.com
        * Gurganous, Tom - tgurganous@dglegal.com

Someone want to get home addresses, phone #s, list of first-born children?

Re:Attorney Emails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434214)

* Dunlap, Thomas M - tdunlap@dglegal.com vcard

        * Dureska, Geoffrey M. - gdureska@dglegal.com

        * Grubb, Daniel L. - dgrubb@dglegal.com

        * Ludwig, David - dludwig@dglegal.comvcard

        * Kurtz, Nicholas A. - nkurtz@dglegal.com

        * Novel, Sur - snovel@dglegal.com

        * Policasti, Eugene - epolicasti@dglegal.com

        * Tate, Christopher F. - ctate@dglegal.com

        * Weaver, Jeffrey William - jweaver@dglegal.com

        * Whitticar, Michael C. - mwhitticar@dglegal.com

        * Gurganous, Tom - tgurganous@dglegal.com

Someone want to get home addresses, phone #s, list of first-born children?

* Dunlap, Thomas M - tdunlap@dglegal.com vcard

        * Dureska, Geoffrey M. - gdureska@dglegal.com

        * Grubb, Daniel L. - dgrubb@dglegal.com

        * Ludwig, David - dludwig@dglegal.comvcard

        * Kurtz, Nicholas A. - nkurtz@dglegal.com

        * Novel, Sur - snovel@dglegal.com

        * Policasti, Eugene - epolicasti@dglegal.com

        * Tate, Christopher F. - ctate@dglegal.com

        * Weaver, Jeffrey William - jweaver@dglegal.com

        * Whitticar, Michael C. - mwhitticar@dglegal.com

        * Gurganous, Tom - tgurganous@dglegal.com

Someone want to get home addresses, phone #s, list of first-born children?

Spam filter to max.

Re:Attorney Emails (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434304)

Someone want to get home addresses, phone #s, list of first-born children?

Somebody apparently already did that. Just enter one of their email addresses in Google. Includes home address/phone and a few relatives' names. I wonder if those are the real deal.

Let's just hope nobody does something illegal to this despicable, blood-sucking, worthless scum ... 'cause that would be ... well ... you know ... illegal ... not necessarily immoral ... just illegal.

Hmm ?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433084)

hurt locker for download? they got caught torrenting? I don't even know how to Use the Net to download films...

What can be done against these slimebags (1)

halfdan the black (638018) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433110)

It seems like their "evidence" is pretty weak, just basically their word that they saw your IP address download a file.

I've been wondering when this would happen (2, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433122)

RIAA and MPAA were limiting themselves so that they wouldn't have the publicity generated by suing over a thousand defendants at once. They must have known that that looked just a bit like extortion.

Anyway, I'm glad they did this, now the country can decide whether they want to spend their time on federal lawsuits of importance, like civil rights, or on this bullshit.

Unfortunately I'm also convinced that the answer is the latter.

I've got it! (1)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433150)

1) Reference Google's list of open wifi networks
2) Sniff traffic for Torrents
3) Send out letters...
4) ??????????
5) Profit!!!!

Re:I've got it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433754)

I enjoy it when the ??? step is added when not necessary at all. It makes me read the list and then insert random mumbo-jumbo for the questionable step...

1) Reference Google's list of open wifi networks
2) Sniff traffic for Torrents
3) Send out letters...
4) Parade around downtown NYC in a suit and top hat made of the tears of innocent families
5) Profit!!!!

Bittorrent Users Sue Movie Studios (5, Funny)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433214)

In other news today, a group of 14,000 bittorrent users who have downloaded movies are suing the studios who produced those movies. The downloaders say the movies were deceptively marketed as being good, and that they were duped into wasting their time and bandwidth by downloading and watching them. The downloaders are asking for a collective total of 38 years wasted time and 448 terabits of wasted bandwidth, plus an unspecified amount for mental and emotional damages.

Re:Bittorrent Users Sue Movie Studios (2, Interesting)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433384)

Don't forget that the movie studios spent millions in marketing to make you WANT the movie. Really, is this any different than what the tobacco companies did many years ago? Movies are the new addiction. They really should put warning labels on the movie trailers, fast food tie-ins, Halloween customs, etc.

5000 people downloaded the hurt locker (0, Offtopic)

retardpicnic (1762292) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433218)

WTF?! This means members of the tea party are learning to use the interwebs. All are base will belong to them!

Rate the movies down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433306)

Want to make your voices heard? There's enough people here to go to imdb, netflix, etc and lower the ratings on all these movies. They are small studios and will start to notice very, very quickly.

Is downloading illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433328)

Is downloading illegal? I thought I had read that the illegal part was the uploading a copyrighted work.
Certainly the damages would be a lot less for downloading vs uploading....

Concise List (1)

adeft (1805910) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433330)

I'm glad they post the movies and directors effecting these lawsuits. Makes it easier to avoid them now and in the future. Any friend of Uwe Boll is an enemy of mine.

Film Industry Saved by IP Chasers! (5, Funny)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433410)

Washington, D.C.-- Super Lawyers Duenlap, Grubb and Beaver declared today that they had been able to save the ailing film industry via a new, innovative IP-chasing strategy. "It's really simple," declared Duenlap. "You just put a really shitty film on the internet," said Grubb. "And then you wait for peoples' cousins dogs to come download five minutes from the honeypot, and SUE everyone in their zip code," said Ms. Beaver.
Due to this innovation, Hollywood stars will continue to be able to walk the red carpet with millions in diamonds and rubies, instead of being reduced to begging at soup kitchens, said Duenlap, Grubb and Beaver.
CNET news attempted to contact the IP addresses involved in this article but ping requests were not returned.

Lawsuit abuse, flimsy evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433418)

How can this not meet the definition of "frivolous" abuse of the courts?

The only "evidence" is a list of IP addresses that anyone with a word processor can create.

Re:Lawsuit abuse, flimsy evidence (1)

halfdan the black (638018) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433650)

Exactly!

It is strictly their word (slimebag lawyers) that they saw these IP address download a file. How can this hold up in any court??
Please, someone tell me how this can hold up in court.

So don't settle. Got it. (2, Insightful)

mounthood (993037) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433444)

So don't settle -- their model depends on collecting smaller amounts from lot's of victims, so they'll ignore you for not paying up, or they'll loose money in an individual lawsuit. Bonus: if enough people stick together and refuse to settle their "business model" won't work at all.

Being Threatened? (1)

CapnStank (1283176) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433590)

This site [yolasite.com] is directed mostly at UK people being attacked by a very similar business model. Although not 100% relevant I'm sure it has plenty of information on there for anyone who's received a letter or simply wants to read some legal rights they may (or may not) have.

Movie revenue (2, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433894)

Today, without major restructuring of the Internet at large, it can be assumed that within a few days of release of a DVD that the movie content will be ripped and made available online.

If an Internet user has the knowledge to access these "available" movies, they can be downloaded and viewed with little or no risk to the downloader. This may require some fancy work to prevent the content from being redistributed and if you do not know how to do this you are certainly exposing yourself to redistribution and the legal penalties that come from that.

If someone does not have this knowledge, they have to buy their content. Because of this we are rapidly approaching a two-class environment: some people know how to get content for free while others have to pay for it. Right now, the division between these classes is also enforced by lack of broadband capacity - if your connection is dial-up or a weak DSL link you can't download free content no matter what you know.

Today it is possible for content providers to still make money from the 2nd class "payers", but this is going to change rapidly. I don't see any possibility for stopping this movement, no matter how many lawsuits are filed. The penalty is just too remote a possibility and too far removed from the act of redistribution. You get a notice in the mail six months after doing something and you are supposed to remember doing it? Worse, there is a trial over something that occurred two years before. It is like getting a speeding ticket from a state you used to live in and six months after you sold the car. There just isn't any connection between the act and the penalty for it to seem real and not arbitrary.

I'd say the content providers are going to see their revenue shrink rapidly as more and more of the "payers" die off and are replaced by well-educated (in the Internet black arts) younger people with better Internet connections. They might be able to replace the direct sales revenue (which retailers share in) with some kind of ad-supported content in the future - but retailers will not be sharing in that at all. This puts WalMart as a content retailer out of the business entirely, as it does with Amazon and anyone else that would consider themselves a "retailer".

Oh well. I think it plain to say "Piracy Rules!" If your business model depends on people paying for digital content, someone out there is going to ruin your day.

PIrating==Theft==Crime==True (-1, Troll)

realsilly (186931) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434150)

Plain and simple folks, those who illegally download a copy of the Hurtlocker or any other copyrighted materials has committed a crime. If you don't like the cost, don't see the movie or whatever the item is. But it's against the law to steal. These movie studios have a right to protect their property. Just because copyrighted materials are on the internet does not mean obtaining a copy without paying for it is ok. Period.

If all the pirating people would stop stealing then maybe, just maybe, the cost of ticket prices or DVDs won't be raised to offset the theft.

Re:PIrating==Theft==Crime==True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434326)

Plain and simple folks, those who illegally download a copy of the Hurtlocker or any other copyrighted materials has committed a crime. If you don't like the cost, don't see the movie or whatever the item is. But it's against the law to steal. These movie studios have a right to protect their property. Just because copyrighted materials are on the internet does not mean obtaining a copy without paying for it is ok. Period.

If all the pirating people would stop stealing then maybe, just maybe, the cost of ticket prices or DVDs won't be raised to offset the theft.

You really have no idea how the market forces work within digital entertainment industry, do you?

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