And We're Off: Hurt Locker Files First 5,000 Lawsuits Against File Sharers

from the welcome to the digital hurt locker dept

As was widely rumored and more or less confirmed by the rude email from Hurt Locker’s producers, saying that anyone who thought this was a bad idea was a “moron” and a “thief,” the producers of Hurt Locker have now officially started suing people, whom they accuse of sharing the movie online in an unauthorized manner. While the initial rumors said that there would be “tens of thousands” of lawsuits — and some had predicted over 100,000 — at least the initial burst is for 5,000 people. The actual complaint (pdf and also embedded below) has some fun claims about how a single copy being distributed destroys the whole market blah blah blah. That this point is disproved time and time again by box office results apparently doesn’t matter:




Of course, this really has nothing to do with stopping unauthorized file sharing or the perceived harm of file sharing. This is entirely about trying to squeeze money out of people. Thomas Dunlap, the lawyer running this under the name US Copyright Group, isn’t looking to take any of these lawsuits to court. The whole point is to find out who these people are and to send them legal nastygrams, that come very close to your garden variety extortion letter — telling people that they’ll drop the lawsuit if they just pay $1,500. It comes across as a classic “protection racket.” “Pay up and you won’t get hurt.” Hopefully more ISPs stand up for their customers (and their own business interests) and don’t just roll over. But, more importantly, hopefully the courts recognize how questionable this practice is and start blocking such a clear abuse of the court system. Over in the UK, lawyers have been disciplined for these sorts of stunts, and in France, some lawyers were barred from practice for six months after trying to do something similar. With any luck, US officials recognize that this is an abuse of the legal system and work quickly to block this practice.

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Companies: voltage pictures

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Comments on “And We're Off: Hurt Locker Files First 5,000 Lawsuits Against File Sharers”

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154 Comments
Free Capitalistsays:

Re:

Just curious, but how are they tracking down who downloaded the movie.

They do not track who downloads movies, as this is impossible. They track the IP addresses that appear> to be downloading potentially infringing material.

Unfortunately, the courts seem to be using IP address as a verifiable source of identity.

The sad fact remains that an IP address is nothing more than an assumable quantum state.

Re: Re: Re: Good movie

Umm, yes I was. I have a 300+ DVD collection and it was a great movie. I actually like owning DVDs and this one came with some decent special features. Now the producer lost my purchase because he was being a dick, and I bet he’ll loose many more sales because of his attitude than he would have because of torrents.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good movie

99% of the public? Are you high? If only 3.3 million people in the States use torrents and assume that 10% of that figure use torrents for LEGAL material then you’re looking at 3 million people in the states who may download material in an illegal manner.

Wow. 3 million people. Oh wait! Not everyone in the States has an internet connection so it’s less than 3 million people.

I bet half of those are children too.

WE HAVE TO DO EVERYHTING IN OUR POWER TO STOP ONE MILLION PEOPLE! WE MUST CHANGE THE LAWS! ACTA! LAWSUITS! THE LAST THING WE NEED TO DO IS CHANGE OUR BUSINESS MODELS!

berightsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good movie

Yes.It is illegal.So is speeding,that kills thousands of people every day around the world.So forgive me if I don’t cry for these people who make more money in one month than 99% of people in a lifetime.But obviously they need twenty cars and at least 3 mansions around the world.Somehow I don’t think they will pay that extortion money to some carpenter on the movie set.

gorehoundsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Good movie

I used to buy movies from Hollywood but they want to make war on all of us so I am not ever buying a new film from any corporate entity.And I mena ever.i can always go buy a used and guaranteed to work DVD/Blu-ray and then I get my flick and the jerks of MPAA get nothing.
And I can rip it any way I want to.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

BOR seems to me to bear no relationship to whether or not a movie was helped or hurt. It is merely a number.

Maybe some P2P users did go to see it after watching a copy at home, but then again maybe some did not. There is no way of determining if P2P helped or hurt since there is no way to determine how many may have gone or not gone to a theater because of P2P.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, then perhaps you should also read the FRCP as it pertains to the sufficiency of complaints.

I am not expressing any opinion on the wisdom, or the lack thereof, concerning the lawsuit. I am merely noting that BOR proves nothing as some would have you believe.

As yet another side note, the law firm pursuing this lawsuit on behalf of the rights holder is about 12 short of a dozen. See copyrightsandcampaigns site to understand what I mean.

Ryansays:

Re:

While yes, it is true that correlation != causation, if the two factors do not even show correlation then you better find some damn good evidence for a causal relationship.

Do you have some reason to believe that file sharing detrimentally affects box office revenue despite increased file sharing rates and increased box office revenue occurring simultaneously?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

the standard answers are this:

actual boxoffices sales are up dollar wise, but not as much seatwise. this is due to increased ticket prices, specifically for things like 3d and imax movies. the actual ticket sales are not increasing.

further, as the us population increases, all things being kept equal, ticket sales should go up by proportion. that isnt happening. we wont even discuss inflation and its effects.

further, as mike as pointed out here before, the number of movies being commercially released in some form or another has doubled, and yet income has shifted only a couple of percentage points. the take home per movie is way down on average. again, all things being equal, there should be tons more reason for people to go to the movies, and they are not doing so.

finally, you also have to look at the full chain / windows of sale to understand the effects. loss of dvd retail sales, lower buy rates on ppv, and so on are signs of slipping retail consumer activity. yet, pretty much everyone has seen the major movies. i wonder how that happens?

it is difficult to find solid hard link cause and effect because we are dealing with systems in motion. but it is clear that millions of people are getting their entertainment without paying, and there is no way that this doesnt have some effect, somewhere.

Curioussays:

IP

Just curious..
I have a DHCP ip as opposed to a Static ip,
ive had this vaguely described to me and i just want to clarify with someone that knows..

I was told that after power cycling my modem for 30 seconds i would receive a alternate ip address

If this is true, which as far as i can tell from hosting an online game, when i access http://www.whatismyip.com is gives me a different ip after the power cycle.

Would this in anyway help to “hide” my identity if i decided to acquire online content

Jon B.says:

Re: IP

It’s POSSIBLE that the ISP has a log of what IP address you have and when. So, if a third party has enough information to ask who had IP ‘15.44.92.100’ at 2010-05-28 14:57:32, and the ISP is willing to give that information, then you can be identified.

You could choose to direct your traffic through a third-party proxy server, where whatismyip.com would just show the proxy server’s IP. Then, you would be as private as the proxy server’s level of logging and willingness to cooperate with whoever may ask.

Anonymoussays:

Re: IP

Curious

No it doesn’t. While it’s different, your ISP logs both what your IP is and when you have it. So they can check their logs and see that while you don’t have xxx.xxx.xxx now, you did four weeks ago. And that’s how you’ll get pegged. Fortunately, after 90 days or so (changed with the provider) those logs are wiped.

blah blahsays:

Re: IP

No. The ISP knows who had what IP address at what time. In layman’s terms. Each IP is kept in a data base with physical account holder information correlation.

The ISP can tell which physical address and account holder was routed that IP at what date and time. This was originally set up to protect against real life threats, and system abuse.

The argument of “Someone stole my IP” – It’s much harder to spoof a valid IP than what these script kiddies think. The NOC has valid checks in place. An individual capable of correctly spoofing an IP address, would not use this to commit copyright infringement. Think higher along the lines of international and industrial espionage. If a subpoena is submitted, and an IP and account holder are returned, it IS near impossible to prove invalid.

“Someone hacked my wireless” does not fly either.
You have just breached your TOS with the ISP. Which IS a valid fine for unlawfully distributing services. If the **AA’s dont’ get you, the ISP will. It’s your responsibility to successfully, and safely operate your network. Looking for excuses to pass the buck only proves you’re guilty.

The best way not to get caught, is to not do something illegal. Does not matter if you agree with the law, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

Citation –
Level III NOC employee.

ninja4hiresays:

Re: Re: IP

Reasonable doubt. Google it. Many network based exploits are hard to to initiate but the fact they exist make it a possibility. You must be a noob NOC tech if you think only a super spy is capable of hacking an ISP’s router and controlling the routing of a block of IP addresses. How do you think hackers/bots/etc.. hide their tracks?? Just because you think “your” network is secure doesn’t mean the upstream provider’s network is.

FYI –
I am level XXXIII Noc tech at super ISP

Jerrysays:

DMCA Complaints

Well, the complaint is interesting. Do you think the court will now issue 5000 subpoenas? I’d hate to have to do 5000 whois lookups and try to get the subpoenas to each of the ISP’s providing the service.

From the ISP’s perspective, a properly executed subpoena for customer information can’t be ignored. However, like Time Warner, an ISP could claim the burden of lookups to be overwhelming. Here’s a link to that story http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/05/timewarner-subscriber/

TPBersays:

Re: Re: IP

No Justin , not what person but which router that possibly 100s of people were attached to at a specific point in time. Your assumption is that of a noob. Do a little research before spewing bullshit out here. There is no way to tell which person used any IP at any time, moron.

Do you work for the RIAA, your misinformation points that way.

IshmaelDSsays:

Re: Re: Re: IP

Wow, you need to calm down a bit, while you are correct from a technical standpoint, Justin appears to me to be just trying to help, not to mention from a legal standpoint I believe that the law would agree with Justin. As unless you can prove that you are an ISP you are legally responsible for what happens over your internet connection.

TPBersays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: IP

This is a technical subject and semantics matter. The law is absolutely retarded on this subject, trying to help means nothing if the statement is completely wrong. I can log on to any number of closed wifi connex and I would technically be reged under their IP, they have no way of knowing. Now what was the point of your comment other than nothing.

IshmaelDSsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: IP

The point of the comment is that your wrong, this is both a technical and legal subject. You thinking that the law is “absolutlely retarded” doesn’t mean that the law doesn’t figure into the equation.

You can log into any number of wifi connections and be registered as their IP, agreed. The problem is that if they know it or not they are legally responsible for the activities that you do while on their connection. I disagree with this law but the unfortunate fact is that it is currently the law.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: IP

Incorrect. While questionable the letter is intended to form a pre-action notification and you are best supported by answering in the format recommended by your jurisdictions pre-trial protocols. That said it may/will never go to trial – but you should not just ignore the letter. IANAL.

See here for an awesome guide to this: http://beingthreatened.yolasite.com/resources/The-Speculative-Invoicing-Handbook.pdf

Anonymoussays:

“It comes across as a classic “protection racket.” “Pay up and you won’t get hurt.”” – this is one incredibly false statement, trying to make this look like some sort of mafia shake down of the innocent.

the people downloaded the movie. they may be peering it to others. they are not innocent. this is another classic techdirt reach, not shocking to see it on here on a friday!

Nastybutler77says:

Re:

“the people downloaded the movie. they may be peering it to others. they are not innocent.”

Gee that’s funny, I thought people accused in the US were innocent until proven guilty? I guess you don’t know the law as well as you claim to. And what little evidence there is (IP addresses) is no guarantee that the person who is being sued is the same person that did the downloading. How about you stop lying and spreading BS around, m’kay?

Another classic TAM reach, not shocking to see on a day that ends in ‘Y.’

Sam I Amsays:

IANAL

Geeze Mike, I generally agree with you on much of your perspective but on this one you are way off. A classic extortion letter ?pay up and nobody gets hurt? is delivered to someone whose total contribution to the situation is their mere existence. The perceived/mock offense is specious, it doesn?t exist; it?s the muscle behind the threat that gives it credibility, not some sense that someone actually did something unlawful.

Unauthorized copying and distributing of a copyrighted product is unlawful, an inconvenient detail you had to skip over entirely to create this post.

It may be helpful, it may be promotion, it may actually drive the bottom line, but the only pertinent fact here for the Hurt Locker producers is that they are acting on an actionable offense. If they have one case of it, they have one case. If they have evidence of 100,000 cases they have 100,000 potential cases. In a court that is (and should be) the beginning and the end of it. Ancillary, incidental, beneficial (questionable) effect is utterly beside the point, and of course you know that. Without an initial, contributory unlawful act there is no actionable transgression and consequently no possible letter of ?extortion.? Simple.

But even more off balance, you suggest this is an abuse that US officials should act to curtail. Really? Do you really want to advocate that the most basic right to redress in a court of law for an unlawful act be taken off the table for everyone just because you prefer to be indifferent to some laws and instead focus on a grey area that you create out of thin air with your rhetoric?

IshmaelDSsays:

Re: IANAL

I agree with mike as the fact is alot of these letters end up going to people that have no idea what a torrent file is, they also unfortunatly don’t have any idea how to secure a wireless connection, or have grandkids, or insert any number of other issues. They also don’t have the money to fight a corporation in these situations so unless the Hurt locker guys can get some kind of concrete evidence that the people that pay the bills for the internet connections that are identified are actually the ones that downloaded the movie I think this needs to stop.

Everything In Moderationsays:

Re: IANAL

That would be true if it were a cut and dry “actionable offense”. There is absolutely zero reason why an IP address should be considered equivalent to a unique identity that can be used to attribute blame, fault, or anything onto someone.

Furthermore, in this case, there is really no way for anyone accused to obtain any information from the ISP about how and where the IP address are assigned, collected, stored, ect. There are highly complicated automated systems that are prone to error and exploitation.

This where the problem lies. If a mistake was made, and you are innocent, the process of defending yourself will, in the case of a federal lawsuit, do you more damage both financially and in the amount of time spent, than would simply paying the money.

The accused have basically no way to make a case to defend them-self and even if they were able to, it would likely cost more than just paying.

I leave you exhibit A:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/05/far-cry-innocence.ars

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: IANAL

“There is absolutely zero reason why an IP address should be considered equivalent to a unique identity that can be used to attribute blame, fault, or anything onto someone.” – sorry, but you are wrong here. the isp knows exactly which user id was logged into which ip at which time. the mac address and such is also recorded. if the end use decides to give others access to the internet through their connection, it isnt any different from allowing people to use your phone for long distance. no matter how you slither, you are responsible for the bill. basic securing of a wireless is a very simple process, takes seconds. most isps who use integrated modem / router / wireless units are pre-setting the wireless to be secure. if the end user in their home cannot control their own connection, then they have issues.

hackinwifiallovertownsays:

Re: Re: Re: IANAL

Laugh…i can hack most wep or wpa encrypted wifi connections in less time that it takes the average user to even set it up and you’d never be the wiser unless you sit and monitor your router with SNMP all day long which most routers provided by ISP’s dont have enabled and neither do most routers you buy off the shelve at bestbuy. The only time ive ever seen SNMP on a router is with a hacked firmware installed to a WRT54G (ddrt).

ninja4hiresays:

Re: Re: Re: IANAL

You don’t log in to an IP. That doesn’t make any sense.
Your modem is assigned a DHCP address based on its MAC address, which can be easily forged or spoofed. And so can IP addresses. How do you know a hacker hasn’t compromised an ISP’s edge router somewhere and has hijacked your IP address?? Or that the kid across the street hasn’t cracked your WEP or WPA protected wifi?? Too many ifs to bring someone to court.
Bottom line is they would need more then an IP address. Show me the packet captures of the “alleged” copyrighted material that was downloaded to my ip address.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: IANAL

tech 101. you can fake the mac address (reprogramming on some devices) but in the end, your user name signed in / logged on, and that mac address, username, and assigned IP were all connected together. if you change your mac address, you will lose the IP address, and have to reconnect (which re-logs you into the ISPs system).

if someone is hacking my connection, that is my problem, not the movie producers, and not the ISPs. if you are going to go to that extreme to download something, dont you think you are pretty much a lawbreaking asshole at some point?

hackinwifiallovertownsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: IANAL

laugh…tech 101: Your user account has nothing to do with your modem. Your user account is linked to your account in the same way the mac address of the modem is linked to your account. User accounts are not logged in or out at the modem, its either connected or not because the mac address of the modem is permitted to connect or its not. If you change your mac address of the modem, it will indeed disconnect and you will have to call and get the modem reprovisioned in their system ie: THE MAC ADDRESS ADDED TO THE ALLOWED POOL. Just quit trying to troll and go back to 4chan idiot.

MadderMaksays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: IANAL

maybe in your neck of the woods.

Ever consider here in AUS it is the phone service and user name NOT the MAC?

I can use any modem on my line… but not on another line regardless of user/mac.

so maybe tone it down a bit mate – your opinionated fangs are showing 🙂

Disclaimer: I am a Lv3 NOC tech.

MadderMaksays:

Re: Re: Re: IANAL

But it is not the ISP seeking redress – it is the producer who says “you did it” when they should say “who did it?”.

Sharing your connection may violate the TOS and involve contract law (with your ISP) but it is not equal to direct copyright infringement with a 3rd party.

Tha’ts why just an IP cannot identify an infringer with absolute certainty.

Re: IANAL

Geeze Mike, I generally agree with you on much of your perspective

Really? Sam, I’ve never seen you post anything in agreement with me. You seem to always take the pro-stronger copyright position.

A classic extortion letter ?pay up and nobody gets hurt? is delivered to someone whose total contribution to the situation is their mere existence. The perceived/mock offense is specious, it doesn?t exist; it?s the muscle behind the threat that gives it credibility, not some sense that someone actually did something unlawful.

And you don’t think that in this process many innocent people will receive this threat letter? We’ve already seen with the RIAA cases and with the European ACS:Law cases that many innocent users get snared with these letters.

Unauthorized copying and distributing of a copyrighted product is unlawful, an inconvenient detail you had to skip over entirely to create this post.

Indeed. But the question is the actual impact of it, and the reasonableness of suing people for wanting to watch your movie. Considering the likely backlash for this move, it’s going to cost the production company a lot more than they gain by shaking people down.

It may be helpful, it may be promotion, it may actually drive the bottom line, but the only pertinent fact here for the Hurt Locker producers is that they are acting on an actionable offense

Doing so grossly out of proportion to any “damage” done. That’s the problem.

If they have one case of it, they have one case. If they have evidence of 100,000 cases they have 100,000 potential cases.

If they have evidence of 100,000 cases, then their problem is not with those people, but that they’re clearly doing business badly. That’s the only reason why so many people would defy your business model options.

But even more off balance, you suggest this is an abuse that US officials should act to curtail. Really? Do you really want to advocate that the most basic right to redress in a court of law for an unlawful act be taken off the table for everyone just because you prefer to be indifferent to some laws and instead focus on a grey area that you create out of thin air with your rhetoric?

When that redress is done in this manner (something you ignore) that is grossly out of proportion to the issue, and done in a way that will likely get many people to pay up without a good legal basis, then, yes, I do believe that is entirely reasonable.

In fact, I find it disturbing that anyone would think this is a reasonable response.

Chris Mikaitissays:

The worst is yet to come...

The terrible part about this whole thing is that anyone who settles through ignorance, fear, or otherwise will now be on a list of ‘people who have settled an infringement claim’. This list could easily then be sold to other copyright holders, matched to IP addresses, and now we have a list of ‘suckers’.

People might argue that the first offense would convince them to not download illegally again, but that’s the problem. This opens the door to other claims with less of a burden of proof. There is now precedent to charge these folks for anything unintentionally downloaded (or watched). I could see them being sued for watching an SNL clip on Youtube (which they didn’t necessarily watch or share, but perhaps stumbled upon), with precedent given to the fact that they ‘regularly’ download (receive) illegal content…. seems like a problem…

Anonymoussays:

Hurt locker litigation.

This was posted on another website, and this should be made clear to ANYONE who receives an extortion letter from Voltage for their Hurt Locker litigation scheme…

Letter:

IF YOU or anyone you know receives a subpoena from Voltage Films, contact the US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.

AND FIND A DEFENSE ATTORNEY willing to LODGE a CLASS-ACTION Law-suit at Voltage Films for invasion of privacy and UNLAWFUL accusations.

The Film THE HURT LOCKER isn’t being re-distributed, only “random” binary bits of numbers are being passed from computer to computer.

Merely obtaining an ISP address and an IP address IS NOT SUFFICIENT evidence to accuse someone of committing copyright infringement;

ANY individual can access ANY OTHER individual’s computer and commit a crime.

Voltage and other Entertainment Industry Companies are FRIGHTENING private citizens into settling these unfounded lawsuits outside of court.

Strength comes in numbers: the Entertainment Companies wrongly accuse innocent citizens of copyright infringement and scare the citizens into settling a lawsuit without the private citizen CHALLENGING them in court.

For instance: a Grandfather paid a Record Company $5000 because The Grandfather was AFRAID to challenge the Record Company in their claim that his grand-daughter downloaded music to His personal computer!

THE US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT should be notified of these unscrupulous tactits of record and movie company’s to SCARE (extort) private individuals to settle out of court without having a FAIR TRIAL.

See, Big Business’ WEAPON is to Sue individuals who are unaware of other individuals receiving the same law-suit.

Its a scam: Entertainment Companies “Catch” private individuals who may or may not be guilty of copyright infringement and make them pay money without a trial–essentially, Big Businesses divide private citizens and conquer them via EXTORTION (scaring them into paying to avoid further cost of a trial).

Those who are accused by Entertainment Companies MUST POOL THEIR RESOURCES together to COUNTER-SUE the “bullying” companies like Voltage Films in this case.

Simply obtaining someone’s ISP information IS NOT ENOUGH evidence to PROVE any one particular individual committed a crime.

Playfully all defendants will file a CLASS ACTION COUNTER- SUIT against VOLTAGE for ILLEGAL INVASION OF PRIVACY.

Anyone can sit at anyone else’s computer and click on “buttons.”

AN ISP or even an IP address is not enough evidence to determine who is guilty of distributing copyrighted material.

The FILM THE HURT LOCKER is copyrighted . . . only Binary numbers are being traded.

There is No Evidence that the actual FILM or digital recording of The hurt Locker has been distributed.


The Goal: if you are handed a subpoena alleging you committed copyright infringement, IMMEDIATELY contact other people who’ve received similar subpoenas . . .

Try to BANKRUPT VOLTAGE PICTURES via a series of Class-Action Counter-suits claiming false accusation and invasion of privacy as grounds for your COLLECTIVE legal counter-suits of VOLTAGE FILMS .


Thanks.

Nick Berry

Anonymoussays:

Re:

class action will not work, sorry. each case of copyright violation is a valid individual standing case. there is no way to certify a class of “people who didnt do anything but still got a letter”.

it is a nice idea from some dimestore internet lawyer wannabe, but in the end, doesnt appear to hold water. please learn more about class action before you repost crap like this again.

Nastybutler77says:

Re: Re:

“please learn more about class action before you repost crap like this again.”

This from the moron who doesn’t seem to realize that accused people are innocent until proven guilty.

“the people downloaded the movie. they may be peering it to others. they are not innocent.”

Pot meet kettle.

Re: Extortion

I am curious. How does this differ from actual extortion (if at all)? Why can’t the people who got letters sue for extortion?

Well, the argument is that traditional extortion doesn’t involve the victim having done anything illegal. So it’s something like “pay up or someone might smash up your store.”

So, the argument goes, this isn’t extortion because the person may have actually done something illegal (i.e., copyright infringement), and thus, saying “pay up or else we’ll sue” is not technically extortion, because the “pay up or else we sue” is over an actual illegal activity.

I’m not convinced that distinction is really that meaningful, especially in situation like this, where the activity is so prevalent, and the potential damages are so great and out of proportion to the activity.

However, courts haven’t always agreed.

Re: Re: Re: Extortion

I mean, if I tell someone, “Pay me or else I will tell the cops what you did”… That is blackmail. Isn’t it?

Indeed, but this is slightly different in that it’s not about not telling (i.e., keeping you safe from criminal prosecution). This is about avoiding filing a civil suit… So, still slightly different.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Extortion

courts? common sense doesnt agree. the distinction is incredibly meaningful. extortion is about a threat of violence or loss for no reason. a legal letter allowing for a settlement before a court case is a very different kettle of fish. when you say you cant see a meaningful difference, i have to wonder what else you dont consider meaningful in your other arguments on the blog. this is a pretty simple deal, you used incredible amounts of hyperbole to claim something is extortion (when it is not), and you cannot see the difference? wow. i think the guru needs to get his moral compass adjusted.

Phoenixsays:

Re: Re: Extortion

“So, the argument goes, this isn’t extortion because the person may have actually done something illegal (i.e., copyright infringement), and thus, saying “pay up or else we’ll sue” is not technically extortion, because the “pay up or else we sue” is over an actual illegal activity.”

Good answer. It worries me that someone would not understand this without it being explained to them.

“I’m not convinced that distinction is really that meaningful, especially in situation like this, where the activity is so prevalent, and the potential damages are so great and out of proportion to the activity.”

Uh oh, wrong answer. I think your (and others’) ambivalence towards the law contributes to the problem. My perspective is that the usual $1500 settlement offer is a reasonable penalty/deterrent. It hurts but it isn’t going to wreck anyone’s life. I’m sure Jammie Thomas would jump at such an offer now. If people resist settling because they object to the action, they do so at their own peril, just like when they downloaded the movie and made it available to torrents in the first place. Remember, “13. The foregoing acts of infringement have been willful, intentional, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of the plaintiff.” I don’t think you can argue this point.

Will a couple of innocent people be caught in the net? Maybe. I’d like to hope not based on the granularity of data that can be provided to the plaintiffs, but mistakes happen. There have been a few visible mistakes made in the past, but to the best of my knowledge most were resolved, although I haven’t done a lot of research on that point. The vast majority of people caught in the net will be guilty, of that I have no doubt.

Re: Re: Re: Extortion

Uh oh, wrong answer.

Expressing an opinion based on fact cannot be “wrong.” You can disagree, but it cannot be wrong.

I think your (and others’) ambivalence towards the law contributes to the problem. My perspective is that the usual $1500 settlement offer is a reasonable penalty/deterrent.

Ok. Using your language choices: “wrong answer.” Given the nature of the infringement here, $1500 is a huge amount for an activity that many engage in, which hasn’t been shown to cause any direct harm — and which is done by many people who never would have paid in the first place.

It hurts but it isn’t going to wreck anyone’s life

Why does such an action deserve someone to be “hurt”?

I’m sure Jammie Thomas would jump at such an offer now.

Except she’s already turned down a much lower settlement offer from the RIAA. She’s fighting this based on principle (I think she’s wrong to fight it on principle, because she’s not going to win), but she’s made it clear she won’t settle for any amount.

If people resist settling because they object to the action, they do so at their own peril, just like when they downloaded the movie and made it available to torrents in the first place.

Indeed, but you’re ignoring the larger question of whether or not this action is fair or proportionate.

How would you feel if you got one of those letters despite not having downloaded the film?

Remember, “13. The foregoing acts of infringement have been willful, intentional, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of the plaintiff.” I don’t think you can argue this point.

Um. Sure, you can argue that point.

Will a couple of innocent people be caught in the net? Maybe. I’d like to hope not based on the granularity of data that can be provided to the plaintiffs, but mistakes happen.

Granularity of the data? IP addresses? Really?

There have been a few visible mistakes made in the past, but to the best of my knowledge most were resolved, although I haven’t done a lot of research on that point. The vast majority of people caught in the net will be guilty, of that I have no doubt.

Nice that you don’t believe in the great American principle of innocent until proven guilty. Funny that you seem to be a big stickler for other US laws… but that one you can take a pass on.

Says a lot.

Phoenixsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Extortion

“Expressing an opinion based on fact cannot be “wrong.” You can disagree, but it cannot be wrong.”

It can be wrong, in my opinion. If you disagree, so be it.

“Ok. Using your language choices: “wrong answer.” Given the nature of the infringement here, $1500 is a huge amount for an activity that many engage in, which hasn’t been shown to cause any direct harm — and which is done by many people who never would have paid in the first place.”

The fact that many people engage in this illegal activity doesn’t legitimize it. In fact, it makes the $1500 settlement offer seem even more reasonable to me. The amount of harm to the plaintiff is nothing more than your opinion as a blogger unless and until it is accepted by a court.

Indeed, but you’re ignoring the larger question of whether or not this action is fair or proportionate.

How would you feel if you got one of those letters despite not having downloaded the film?

I think the action is both fair and proportionate. If I received one of those letters and I hadn’t downloaded the film, I would contact the legal firm and resolve it.

Remember, “13. The foregoing acts of infringement have been willful, intentional, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of the plaintiff.” I don’t think you can argue this point.

Um. Sure, you can argue that point.

No, I don’t argue that point, I assert it because there is no other credible position, and I think it’s one of the most important points in the dialog.

Will a couple of innocent people be caught in the net? Maybe. I’d like to hope not based on the granularity of data that can be provided to the plaintiffs, but mistakes happen.

Granularity of the data? IP addresses? Really?

If you think IP address is the granularity being used, you’re naive. It’s IP address + MAC ID + Userid at a minimum. There is also traffic pattern data that is being used.

Nice that you don’t believe in the great American principle of innocent until proven guilty. Funny that you seem to be a big stickler for other US laws… but that one you can take a pass on.

Says a lot.

Now you’re making things up. You’re a liar, Mike. I do believe in the principle of innocent until proven guilty (it isn’t a law) and I have never said otherwise, so you’re a liar. I have only said that my opinion is that the vast majority of those who will receive letters are guilty. In fact, I estimate that if mistakes are made, it will amount to no more than 5 out of 5000 people and the mistakes will be easily resolved.

jupiterkansassays:

about that award...

One of the ironies here is that Hurt Locker only got its Academy Award by giving out FREE screeners to all of the Academy members. People weren’t going to see the film in theatres just like all the other Iraq war movies. Hollywood just really wants to feel like it has something to say about this war, and Hurt Locker was a good candidate, but Hollywood’s too rich and corporate driven to actually tackle anything important. There were a dozen better films last year, including A Serious Man, Inglourious Basterds, and Moon.

We seriously need some copyright reform in America.

Santa Claussays:

So how does this work

Okay, so before I start, disclaimer: I didn’t download the movie, but several of my friends in college downloaded the 720p version, back in November 2009 (so, after the theatrical release, but long before the DVD/BluRay copies came out).

I’ve been reading about the recent Time Warner response to the Ewe Boll FarCry lawsuits, where they stated that they (TW) only kept IP records for ~6 months at the max. I’m sure this is the upper limit for most ISP’s…most tend to be around 90 days or so.

Therefore, how exactly are they going to sue these Doe’s – as in, from when are they targeting people.

Out of curiosity, how do producers/their IT wizards know exactly which IP’s downloaded their files? I mean, do they piggyback some sort of passive tracker into all of the files and then, ahem, “leak” them, silently collecting data? Or…? I’m not certain at all.

I mean, most of the rippers for torrent files have been doing it for quite awhile, so I’m sure they could find these passive trackers and whatnot when they re-encode and upload the files to whatever trackers they use (e.g TPB, private trackers, what have you). Just some thoughts…discuss?

chubbysumosays:

their "evidence" is too weak to even go to court

The company providing the “evidence” of the IP address’s has already been shown to be a shady and un-reliable source of information. They are the same company that resulted in an internet connected printer being hit with DMCA notices. IF you were to receive a letter from them, send back a threat. Let them take you to court, and let them lose, and leave shamed.

On a personal note, I have received one of these “pre-settlement” agreements, and I sent it back, with a threat from my lawyer. The company responsible has not yet replied(over a year ago that i sent it back, so, its not a “new” tactic, just not used en-mass like US copyright group and ACS Law did.

They send these threat/extortion letters hoping to get a stupid person that will just pay up, and never have to see the inside of a courtroom. They DO NOT EVER intend for any of these to get to the courts, as they would all be ruled frivolous in a matter of minutes. US copyright group is just hoping to make a buck from stupid people. I suggest you contact a real lawyer if you get one, and file a counter suit for harassment, and get criminal extortion charges going.

PS, can we get a PDF or link to what the letters are saying?

RadialSkidsays:

TO ESAHC:

“The only people they are pissing off are the type of people on this forum that download/STEAL the movie!”

Who are you trying to convince, exactly?

I’ve never torrented a film in my life (it eats up too much of my alotted bandwidth), and generally pay for movies. Due to the arrogance displayed by the sniveling producer of Hurt Locker, I’m definitely NOT seeing it now.

Re: stealing

i’ve never seen so many thieves so indignant in my life…..

I’ve never downloaded an unauthorized work. I don’t even have bittorrent on my computer.

Also, you should learn the difference between infringement and stealing.

That said, you actually believe this is a proportional response? You actually think this will help get more people to want to pay for a movie? Please explain.

Anonymoussays:

Will a court really allow marginally related defendants as one case?

So they filed one case w/ 5000 DOES, and they think the court will allow that? They may have all been exchanging the same movie, but can they really establish all these defendants can be legally sued in one case? Sounds like they are trying to avoid separate filing fees; they should be forced to file a separate lawsuit, separate filing fee, and allege specific facts as to each defendent even if the defendant remains a DOE until subpoena power is used in the case to ID them.

Roesays:

The thing which needs to be stressed is the reaction most people have when a law firm sends them a demand letter: panic from not knowing how they can afford to deal with it.

If you are a parent, and you get a letter saying someone at your house downloaded whatever, you don’t know if your kid did or didn’t do something they should have. What if it was one of their friends? If your child says they did nothing wrong, then what, how does the parent know? Pay anyway?

There is no government oversight. The law firm(s) pushing these claims have financial motivation to generate revenue to keep the suits moving forward.

The fact is the average parent, or individual, will be manipulated and is vulnerable. I don’t care if as many as 98% of the people who are contacted are guilty. Those innocent 2% don’t deserve to be railroaded for the sake of some Washington, DC, lawfirm’s bottom line.

Ralph Msays:

Idiots

There has been enough publicity and lawsuits over this type of downloading of copyrighted material over the last 10 years. Anyone downloading this material should be sued. Can they really plead ignorance? Instead of doing it the “right” way paying a couple bux, people want things for FREE? Go ahead, roll the dice and see if you buy yourself a song or movie for a few thousand bux.

“If its too good to be true, it probably is”

Stupid Lawyers

Even with the more and more Internet-enabled devices, people still share those devices. How can the actual infringer be positively identified with only an IP address? Unless the IP address can be corroborated with a picture or a fingerprint (it can’t), it could be any person using that device.

Unfortunately, with civil cases, there is no burden of proof requirement. The court (or jury) only has to believe you’re guilty and you are.

Ralph Msays:

Heres an idea RT.. DONT SHARE your devices, dont SHARE your wi-fi. Its the same concept as getting a RED-LIGHT ticket by camera. The ticket goes to the registered owner as you cant prove who’s driving. KNOW who’s using your internet service and WHAT they’re doing on it. Is your child watching porn online? Hopefully most people prohibit such access… and downloading copyrighted material should be enforced the same way.

Re: Stupid Lawyers

That’s apples and oranges.

Copyright infringement and inducing copyright infringement have specific requirements that point to an individual (or group), not an owner. If this wasn’t the case, then internet cafes and other publicly accessible computer owners (like libraries) could be liable.

If the owner of a vehicle, who isn’t driving, gets a red light ticket, the ticket will get thrown out if the owner appears in traffic court since the ticket is for a driver, not an owner. If this wasn’t the case, rental car companies could be liable.

Roesays:

@ 08. They have filed suit against 5,000 individuals in one action. According to Torrent Freak over 3,000,000 downloads of the movie occured following the Oscar win. Those are some pretty slim odds you will be caught. Asssuming they even get the names for all of them (which might not be the case for TWC customers).

Besides, it’s only $1,500. That’s about 25 new film releases, 7 video games, 20 CDs and a pirated copy of paint shop; or the equivalent of maybe 6 months of steady downloading. I am sure most who are caught are still ahead of the benefit curve.

Re: seeded

The technology is produced by GuardaLey IT. According to CSS Labs, it is really just a modified BitTorrent client, which tracks known seeds of infringing movies.

If that client is only recording torrent information, then yes, it would only record people who seed. On the other hand, if it also seeds the content (or pretends to), then it may also record other clients that attempt to connect with it.

There’s no way to know for sure, because the technology is proprietary.

Incidentally, I’ve seen no reports that it records anything other than an IP address.

jason davissays:

Hurt Locker

I like to ask what is perhaps a naive question to the majority of those on this board. Why don’t you just pay to watch the film? With my monthly DVD subscription – i go through about 10 per month – it costs me about 75 cents. Isn’t this a lot of trouble to go through – and a lot of pointless risk? Is the thrill of “stickin’ it to the man” behind a computer screen like a little girl just too great?

jason davissays:

Hurt Locker

I like to ask what is perhaps a naive question to the majority of those on this board. Why don’t you just pay to watch the film? With my monthly DVD subscription – i go through about 10 per month – it costs me about 75 cents. Isn’t this a lot of trouble to go through – and a lot of pointless risk? Is the call of “stickin’ it to the man” from behind a computer screen like a little girl just too great to ignore?

angry young mansays:

the movie's way overrated

The movie’s a hodgepodge of very dramatic scenes with no narrative, no character development, no ongoing conflict (ironically) and no resolution beyond the fact that, like most people, the main character would rather risk getting blown up in Iraq than spend another day with Evangeline Lilly.

jason davissays:

Re: Another idea

“all they do with their lawsuits is increase piracy” – please share with us the evidence upon which you make this claim.

“is to rent it for 2 bux and copy it” – is the 2 dollars really going to change your life, or is the overall expense related to the need to be passively entertained 24/7?

“already made 16,000,000 dollars from this crappy movie”

“Crappy movie” is your opinion; fortunately, both your opinion and mine are irrelevant to whether or not one is obligated to pay for what one consumes – i don’t recall ever being allowed to donate what i thought i should based on my enjoyment of the book / meal / whatever.

“Made” 16M dollars? hardly. that was the BOR. Out of that comes the theatre’s share, the cost of producing physical prints @ $15,000 each, and marketing costs – probably at least $16M. They lost money on the film, as do 70% of films released. And though you did not make this statement, anyone who thinks they will make any money from this enforcement action once the lawyers and expenses are paid really needs to sit down and do some math. The reason behind this is deterrance, pure and simple, and the costs are being shared by all the studios in the form of their financial support for the MPAA and various support mechanisms such as the organization involved here.

Lastly, to think that it is the “producers” behind the suit is somewhat naive. Ask yourself the following: once the film goes into production, who owns the legal and financial rights and the legal authorship of the film? Hint: it isn’t the producers. So if you’re really peeved that someone might come after you for usurping a product for which a lot of money, and many people’s time effort and creativity have been invested, perhaps you should boycott all the films produced by the studio? Or would that be too inconvenient?

RadialSkidsays:

Re: Re:

“Then I suppose you haven’t viewed a pirated copy, in which case my question wasn’t directed at you.”

Yet I still haven’t paid for it. Since the filmmakers seem to have such a sense of entitlement, that should make me as big a villain as anyone who has downloaded the film.

Why exactly should filmmakers care if anyone who doesn’t pay them has seen the movie or not? Not paying is not paying. What if I borrow the DVD from a friend? Holy cow, I’ve just seen the movie, AND I DIDN’T PAY FOR IT!

Or could it be, perhaps, that filmmakers still cling to the fallacy that every download is automatically a sale lost?

Anonymoussays:

For all the people claiming this is “extortion,” don’t you think there’s a difference between saying “if you don’t pay me money [that you don’t owe me], I’ll break your kneecaps [or do something else I have no right to do]” and “if you don’t pay me an amount of money that is arguably less than the amount I’m legally entitled to, I’ll lawfully attempt to get all that I feel I’m legally entitled to?”

If they have no evidence whatsoever against a particular defendant, then that’s a problem. But we don’t know whether that’s the case yet, because we don’t know who any defendant is.

discustedsays:

Lack of clickwrap

These legal whores only have recourse against the people they can prove that put their movies online.

There is a legal concept called “clickwrap”. Look it up on wikipedia.

To protect downloadable media, it must be “wrapped” with an “I agree” installation process. Think about the software you download.

I might have downloaded this movie as it seemed to be in the public domain. There was no “clickwrap” that prevented it from expanding on my computer and being shared with others. By the time I finally started viewing it, and saw it was only intended for professional private review, it could well have been shared with other people (that also were not advised by a clickwrap).

They only have recourse against people that may have illegally made their product available for public domain sharing.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Lack of clickwrap

Almost everything in your post is wrong. Downloading a copyright protected movie without permission (regardless of whether you put it online yourself) is copyright infringement, in most cases. You don’t need to agree (whether through a “clickwrap” agreement or otherwise) to copyright laws to be bound by them.

love that corporate greedsays:

its Called EXTORTION

The suit is for downloads, not shares. Think about that. Nowhere does it say completed downloads. So its entirely likely that many started the DL but didn’t complete it. 1bit of Hurtlocker = GUILTY! = $1500. I think what they should do is just sue everyone everywhere for pirating this movie. Some will settle in fear. Lets pretend thats 1 in 10. Since this type of extortion is only legal in the US, that 307mil (us pop) x $1500 x %10 = $46 billion making hurtlocker the highest grossing movie of all time. Sure half of that will have to go to the law firm, but $26bil on a movie that cost $15 mil to produce is a good investment. Perfect business model.

Guilty until proven guilty, but why even have to prove anything when they’ll just pay in fear? Its the new American profit model!

Im sorry but honestly, before they can do this they should need to subpoena your pc and verify that indeed you did DL the movie. Not just part of it, the full thing. Then like most civil suits not backed by corporate greed they should be able to sue for 3x the cost of goods, which would be the purchase price of the dvd. So i see this online for $30 MSRP, you should then be liable for $90 plus legal fees. Sadly this film has been reported by other sources as having been up for DL 6 full months prior to its debut at the festivals. Which means someone at, or possibly, voltage themselves seeded the original copies. Wow, organized corporate crime really does pay.

I wasted $15 on this piece of garbage in the cinema on the recommendation of many a fool. But I paid cash and didn’t save my receipt so now I’m probably a criminal and therefore I deserve a lawsuit from voltage too or at least a hot poker in the ass.

Re: UK and EU citizens also at risk

Although GuardaLey have not targeted people in the UK or elsewhere in Europe at this time for these films, there are others, also based in Germany who have recently been doing so, and rest assured GuardaLey will try it on in the UK, especially with the new digital economy bill about to be enforced – where end users can lose all access to the Internet, as well as their computers and face fines and imprisonment on top…

At CCS LABS, we are about to implement a perfect counter to attempts by companies like GuardaLey to spam the courts, ISPs and end users with law suits based on a detection accuracy rate of less than 1/1000.

Keep an eye on CCS-LABS.COM over the next week or so… good news is on the horizon which will stop these scamming companies from tricking you out of your money.

Exofoxsays:

Time-Length and View

Does anyone even have an idea of how far back they are even going. I doubt the US Legal System would allow for 100,000’s (like some sites are claiming) to be filed. As it is, getting 5000 people to show up to court would take years, and would tie up the courts with legal ramblings instead of putting convicted felons away who are there for murder or something.

How far back are they looking? From when the movie was produced? Last 2 years? 1 year? 6 months? I’m sure BitTorrent has a file dump session atleast every few months where data logs of I.P.’s get tossed.

Anonymoussays:

This guy annoys me, I’ll boycott him and his company.
His stunt at the Oscars then this… Even an “artist” needs some semblance of class.

Then again, I’ll probably rent The Whistleblower from a dollar kiosk when it gets there. Even if it gets terrible reviews with it’s executive producer, Rachel Weisz won’t.

By Virtue Fall and The Company You Keep are two more coming from his company, the latter is produced by Robert Redford, but I’ll likely pass on them.

winstonsays:

shame on Voltage

Where did this early released ‘pirated’ disk come from? I can only imagine Chartier & Voltage released it.

The obviously believe that because of the films’ tremendous performance at the Oscars that it should have done much better at the box office. Perhaps there is some truth to this but I doubt it’s that major a factor. After all, Ironman & Avatar had no problems and history is full of such films w/great reviews but poor performance at the box office.

The issue IMO, is simple; are the file-sharers responsible that the industry cannot issue its products in a copy-proof format because they haven’t kept up with the rapidly changing technology? Answer=NO.

When dramatic changes in digital technology suited an industry (like it did in the manufacture of cd’s over LP’s) they took full advantage. Nobody complained about making too much money.

Voltage is making a big mistake, not because illegal file-sharing is not stealing (it is) but because having multi-million dollar film companies harassing individuals for exorbitant amounts of cash to cease hostilities against them is patently offensive. Where I come from, we call that extortion! They are suing their own customers; not very smart. It will be interesting to see how many of these Voltage lawsuit victims have legal copies of the film as well as their shared copies?

Voltage should really put it’s energies behind devising a secure method of issuing digital media and stop extorting money from their own customers for taking advantage of technology they have at their fingertips!

Lairdsays:

What about smaller films that don't have theatrical release

A lot of indie films by-pass theatrical release entirely. If they end up getting pirated on the web, what about them? Doesn’t that directly impact their sales in a negative fashion?

It’s one thing to be back by a major-studio and big bucks, but if a film is a lower budget project, financed by smaller (not rich) investors, don’t they deserve a return on their money.

Also, indie producers often have to pay the SAG agreements, etc. and so have expenses off the top BEFORE recouping anything. It would seem that piracy does hurt producers in these situations.

Thoughts?

Me 2says:

Winkz..

Mr. Dunlap and his cohort attorneys at Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver are a bunch of lying scumbag vermin. Stand up to them! There threat and letters re just that paper. They have no intention of filing any lawsuits nor have they hired any attorneys or even talked to any attorneys of substance in these matters. Ignore them and they will go away as they have to. Do not enrich them by sending them any money whatsoever. They openly know at the law firm that this is all a big sham and scam ? a virtual legal shakedown for the 21st century.

So, if you stand for freedom of the internet copy your middle finger and send it by fax to Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver:
phone: 800-747-9354 x3885
fax: (202) 318-0242
e-mail: tdunlap@dglegal.com
You can also call them and give them a piece of your mind or flood their email. If everyone did this work at Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver would slow to a snails pace as no other faxes, emails or phone calls could get through. Make their life difficult as they have tried to, basically, illegally extort thousands of Americans. Give them a piece of your mind! Remember complaining and being an irate consumer is your right! File a complaint with your state attorney generals office. File complaints with the state bar association in Washington DC ? I know that they won?t stand for this abuse of the legal system if enough American consumers complain about it to them:

requiemsays:

Re: Winkz..

Exactly! I am one of the people whom have received a letter of extortion from these swine.
This case is the one of the first of its kind, it must not be a profitable business model for other producers to copy. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE $2900 TO SETTLE. An IP address is about as identifiable as the make/model of the car you drive. All those file hashes, MAC adresses, times/dates/, and threats in that settlement letter don’t ass up to SHIT. All they are doing is scaring non-tech savvy consumers into settling. I’m filing every complaint I possibly can, I encourage everyone to do the same as well.

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