More People Calling US Copyright Group's Bluff

from the where-are-the-lawsuits? dept

Mass copyright lawsuit filer US Copyright Group (really, DC law firm Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver) has been claiming for a while that it really, really was going to file lawsuits against the thousands of folks they've sued in the specific jurisdictions where they're located -- though many have questioned whether or not it would really do this, since it would be quite expensive and DGW is a tiny, tiny law firm. More importantly, as has been seen elsewhere, the business model of "pay us or we'll sue," doesn't work so well if you actually have to sue people. After it was more or less required to drop thousands of the lawsuits for individuals not in Washington DC, we wondered if the company would live up to its promise to refile the lawsuits elsewhere. Thomas Dunlap told some reporters that those lawsuits would be refiled last week. But that didn't happen. So, it seems like more people are believing it's all a bluff. Dunlap has backed down and said that they'll be rolling out the refiles much more slowly -- meaning it's probably still desperately seeking regional law firms to handle a few "example" cases, but may be having more trouble finding them than it thought. I wonder if the regional law firms it's been approaching have noticed how much damage has been done to the reputation of any lawyers who get involved in these sorts of "pay up or we'll sue" shakedowns. In the end, I don't doubt that a few more regional lawsuits will be filed. Dunlap/USCG wants to have its "demo" cases it can point to, so that people will pay up, but it's increasingly sounding like the vast majority of those originally sued will not see those cases go anywhere.


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  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Dec 16th, 2010 @ 6:43am

    I was hoping for multiple jurisdiction filing, actually.

    I figure that if they get lawyers involved in enough jurisdictions they will eventually hit one where the local or state bar association cares what is going on enough to disbar someone for running a extortion racket.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 6:55am

    Where are the tort reformers?

    We hear the constant demand for tort reform. The coffee lady is held up as a ridiculous award. I remember back when the tobacco lawsuits were winding their way through the courts, one of the defenses was that there was a law (probably a state law) that said you could not award damages that were so high they would put the company out of business. And yet, we've seen time and time again, companies put out of business through copyright infringement. Napster, Grokster, Limewire, Kazaa, etc. And people are hit with awards that are impossible for them to pay. If getting $200,000 in compensatory damages for receiving third degree burns is out of line, how is getting $675,000 for downloading $31 worth of songs not? And yet people who want to cap awards don't ever seem to include copyright as something that needs to be fixed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 7:07am

    Re: Where are the tort reformers?

    Actually most tort reformers that I know believe in reforming all areas of awards, but if you haven't noticed, no tort reform has actually made it into the government. The lawyer groups will quash any attempts to reform their system just as oil companies and pharmaceutical companies do. Guess what, people want to make money and don't like it when someone else tries to mess with it.

    The real problem is that the government shouldn't be directly limiting companies abilities to operate, adapt, and innovate, but at the same time they shouldn't be sheltering the companies from failure. Lawyers need to be capped and regulated simply because of the protections they enjoy. Due to the structure of the legal system they are able to, arguably, perform extortion without recourse.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 16th, 2010 @ 7:27am

    Re: I was hoping for multiple jurisdiction filing, actually.

    Didn't we see that here in Florida with Jack Thompson over frivolous law suits on videogames? He was disbarred and you saw the stupid stop for everyone except 'for the kids' politicos.

     

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    Rich, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Re: Where are the tort reformers?

    I wouldn't call the "coffee lady" a ridiculous award. McDonalds was warned on several occasions by the health department that they keep their coffee 20 degrees too hot (180 instead of 160, which they did to keep it fresh longer). The lady had to have about three surgeries for her injuries. She may have been to one to dump it on herself, but her injuries would not have been nearly as bad if McDonalds had followed the health departments guidelines. They were more worried about food costs than customer safety.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 16th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re: Where are the tort reformers?

    Never mind that the reward was reduced considerable and that most of it was punitive. Sad that the punitive damages were able to be recouped by McD's in just a few days' worth of coffee sales. :/

     

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    DCX2, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 9:04am

    Re: Where are the tort reformers?

    Most reasonable people who actually bother reading about "the coffee lady" would discover that it's actually a pretty bad example.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    A good way for "anonymous" to protest [100% legally] a law firm like this is to put pressure on the firms' clients to leave the firm, or you will no longer do business with them. Unlike many other types of boycotts, it doesn't take too much pressure for a client to easily bail on a firm that is costing it negative PR. Law firms are a dime a dozen and there isn't much strife to transfer between firms from the client's perspective.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Where are the tort reformers?

    That is a horrible example, did you even read the link?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Dec 16th, 2010 @ 9:04pm

    Dunlap announced back in August that he had made arrangements with other firms to file complaints against individual defendants and that they would be doing so soon thereafter. That was four months ago. It's starting to look bad. Surely they're going to make an example of a few people. They have to. It might be costly, but it's not as costly as having everyone think there's no chance they'll actually come after them. I wonder what the delay is...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 9:40pm

    Re:

    A few people defended by EFF would cost USCG millions alone.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Dec 16th, 2010 @ 10:15pm

    Re: Re:

    A few people defended by EFF would cost USCG millions alone.

    A million? Where do I sign up? Just kidding... How do you figure? I don't think the cases are that complicated. And don't forget that USCG has the advantage since it gets to decide which few cases out of the thousands they have to prosecute. They're going to pick the easiest cases to win. I think they'll pick cases where there's no plausible defense and where the defendant has the cash should USCG win. Or just maybe the defendant really did it. Even if they do spend a million, the real question is how much money they brought in while doing so. A few well-picked defendants could be just the jolt they need to get those pesky stragglers to pay up. :)

     

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    Paul Keating, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 4:47am

    Can anyone spell RICO?

    I wonder if a combination of using the mails and demanding payment from innocent people under threat that they would sue them (abuse of process?) might add up to a RICO suit against US Copyright Group and their supposed clients?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:58am

    Re: Can anyone spell RICO?

    They didn't demand payment from innocent people, not legally speaking. They offered to settle with people against whom they had prima facie evidence of infringement. This is done everyday in a myriad of contexts. USCG did threaten the possibility of more damages than they would legally be entitled to with some defendants, and that's what the pending class action suit is about. You can't say "if you don't settle with us you will be facing up to $150K in statutory damages" if that's not in fact the case. They really screwed up on that one, and it's all the more unforgivable considering they put themselves out to the public as experts on copyright law.

     

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    Teddy_Bear, Dec 18th, 2010 @ 7:22am

    Come on. Everybody now sees what the game here was. Cast a wide net. Scare people with the threat of a lawsuit and scoop up the innocent along with the guilty because everybody knows that it would cost more to prove your innocence than to cough up the $1500-$2500. It's using the legal system as a business and a perversion of the justice system.

    Now that the "model" is falling apart its in Dumblop Grubbers and Shysters best interest to keep insisting that they are going to re-file to maximize the return on the threats that they have already mailed. I wouldn't be surprised if they are not posting on forums like this to scare people who are searching for data on what to do regarding their DGW letters.

    They probably will have to take a case or two to court just to show that they intended to. If they don't I can see the accusations of racketeering holding water.

     

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    Teddy_Bear, Dec 18th, 2010 @ 7:49am

    I also wonder how many "solid cases" there really are in these mass lawsuits? How many instances of an incomplete download, or a person who stopped the download after discovering it wasn't the file they wanted? Of course DGW would argue that even the smallest infringement would be a violation (and they would be right), but do they really believe that they would get a large enough payoff by suing a person who downloaded a small fraction of the infringed file? Of course they dont. The game here is to get the "settlement" not to sue. And "settlement" is an odd term considering hardly anybody was actually a named defendant in a suit. IMO it should be illegal to ask for money until the defendant has actually been named.

     

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    Digital, Jan 4th, 2011 @ 11:31pm

    Do not look like a bluff to me. The producers of the expendables just signed on with them. And they got like 180 films. Thats enough to cripple the economy.

     

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  18.  
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    ike, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    I wonder if the regional law firms it's been approaching have noticed how much damage has been done to the reputation of any lawyers who get involved in these sorts of "pay up or we'll sue" shakedowns.

    Has it? Sure, it's generated a lot of bad press, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the lawyer have been hurt by it.

     

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  19.  
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    Bes, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 4:51pm

    I in fact google Washington's and sent anywho.com and yahoo free people searched each of them and sent them a personal letter Titled. This is what you produce as reputable lawyers. along with dragnet, mafia-like practice pay up or we will make it harder on you, extortion, and sent bullets of so many articles.. these members of the bar association are going to be forced to sit themselves down. I also sent every representative in Washington the same To the Desk of-information. Congress has to get be involved here and cap monetary figures on things like this. Especially first offences in cases. Universities fine a student first offense a $ 25.00 fine. This is a far cry from what these bullies are trying to rape people for.

     

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    First Class Postage and Mafia Like Threat Settleme, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 2:42am

    Re: Can anyone spell RICO?

    First class Postage and Mafia Like threat letters ..Humm? .

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 2:56am

    Re:

    Yes huge Campaign Push for Letters. Please send Congress/Representatives State General Attorneys in every state. Send Bar Association Members in Virgina and Washington... Congress needs to Stop this. This needs to be out of the hands of lawyers like US Copyright Group. there needs to be a monetary cap from Government and copyright laws need to be changed. Parents especially of minors immature kids who dont know the difference from recording a video on vcr to grabbing a movie for a night off internet. I am finding Universities fine first offense students $ 25.00 and get parents involved which basically works in deterring future use. Is US Copyright Group willing to work on first offense for these kids.

     

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  22.  
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    Bes comment from above, Mar 21st, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Glad I didnt have to go to the trouble to write and complain to the board. not sure they would listen to me anywya. I dont make sense half the time. I am reading that Hurtlocker stuff was called off.. cease fire it said. I hope this is true for sure.. I so hope this is true. thats really tough when some 1st offenses for downloading is $25 and lawyers hit you for %1,500 to 3,000. Yeah I agree some laws need to be Undone and corrected.

     

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  23.  
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    RICO = Ridiculous Is Completely Obvious, Mar 21st, 2011 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Can anyone spell RICO?

    Yeah.. Ridiculous is Completely Obvious

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Hey Bes up there

    Hey Bes, Nice chatting with you. Yes I also wont be worrying about the Bmembers now that alleged infringer's are no longer USCG in pursuit. But I will be on the band wagon to get copyright laws moved around and to protect the innocent from any copycat mass mailing groups. If you think about it. Its really Not Right! Everyone Has a right to Justice and All these hard core settlement letters were not Fair/Right in my book. So I probably will instead write a few politians asking them to bring copyright cyber law to a Head Table.

     

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  25.  
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    of course, Mar 21st, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    Ridiculous Is Completely Obvious..

     

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