Expendables Producers Dump Entire Lawsuit; Will They Refile?

from the might-not-be-over-yet dept

One of the most high profile US Copyright Group lawsuits was for producers Nu Image, who made The Expendables movie, which ended up making over $100 million. For some reason, they thought that it would be a good strategy to then shake down a bunch of people who downloaded the movie. In fact, they sued an astounding 23,322 people. After first allowing such subpoenas to go out to identify who was behind those 23,322 IP addresses (though not necessarily behind any infringement), the judge realized that most of those people were not in the proper jurisdiction and dismissed 23,238 of the IPs from the lawsuit.

Now it appears that rather than go forward with the case against the remaining 84 IP addresses, the entire case has been dismissed voluntarily by Nu Image and USCG. That said, the dismissal is without prejudice, meaning that they can refile it. I'm wondering if they're working on another strategy to try to once again link up a lot more than 84 people. If, instead, Nu Image has realized that perhaps this isn't a smart strategy, that would be nice to hear... but until there's confirmation on that front, it seems likely that it's just looking for a more efficient way to sue its fans.


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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 3:45am

    One wonders if their legal team saw what was in the case against USCG and decided to run.

     

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    AJ, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 3:56am

    Not a good idea....

    Regardless of what the blood sucking lawyers think, its never a good idea to sue your fans. Let me back that up a little bit for the slow ones....ITS NEVER A GOOD IDEA TO SUE YOUR FANS!

    Instead, figure out why those people wanted to download it and not buy it, and change your model to fill that need. Sure, your always going to get a handful that would never buy it under any conditions, you can't fix that.. But you can fix the customer that is willing to pay for the product, but wont because the product has been handicapped or doesn't quite measure up to the downloadable copy in some way.

    Fix the problem, don't become part of it!

     

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      Richard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:06am

      Re: Not a good idea....

      I remember the motto on the wall of the fish and chip shop I used to go to in the 1980's. It finished with the line:

      "No-one ever won an argument with a customer".

       

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:12am

      Re: Not a good idea....

      This entire idea has always been sold as a way to get more money. Turn a movie that underperformed into a huge smash hit. While Expendables cost 80 million to make, it only made under 300 million us/worldwide combined.

      I am unsure how much a USCG settlement offer was going for, but to the producers it was win win.
      They did nothing but sign on the dotted line.
      Money gets collected and they get a check in a couple of months.
      USCG files a case for the low low price of $350 and gets 23,322 Does to chase.
      You stand to get a payday after everyone elses cut of several million dollars.

      Then the trouble started. Judges not willing to go along with the program, people resisting the extortion letters, someone selling a kit online to get the motions quashed.

      And now with serious questions being raised about how the information was gathered, they are running.

      Everyone hates USCG, but who will remember Nu whatchamajigger long enough to skip their next movie?

       

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        Richard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:20am

        Re: Re: Not a good idea....

        Everyone hates USCG, but who will remember Nu whatchamajigger long enough to skip their next movie?

        I'm sure anyone who actually threatened will remember EXACTLY who it was!
        As for those who merely heard about it I guess you are right but, sadly, the hatred will translate into a general dislike of the movie industry.

        Eventually movie producers will have to posiitively dis-associate themselves from these actions in order to avoid the impact.

         

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          That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: Re: Not a good idea....

          The threats all come on USCG letterhead.
          The ISP letters all say USCG.
          Nu Image feels safely buffered.

          I doubt they will hate the movie industry, they are being fed a constant stream of downloaders are stealing billions. Thats why there won't be another Harry Potter movie, the pirates stole all the money to make the one where he marries you.

          Summit is notorious for overreaching to "protect" its property, suing someone who took a picture that happened to catch the screen and a bunch of other stupid things.
          The Twilight Franchise didn't even suffer a tremor.

          People seem to have short memories or just don't care. It is part of the... it only happens to bad people so it will never happen to you because your good mentality out there.

           

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            Richard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a good idea....

            The threats all come on USCG letterhead.
            The ISP letters all say USCG.
            Nu Image feels safely buffered.


            Read the stories of people accused by ACS law on the "being threatened" site. In this situation people become obsessed and will spend a lot of time investigating what has happened.

            So yes they WILL find out exactly who is behind it.

            Summit is notorious for overreaching to "protect" its property, suing someone who took a picture that happened to catch the screen and a bunch of other stupid things.
            The Twilight Franchise didn't even suffer a tremor.


            Of course the number of people directly affected is quite small at present - so it won't show up in the statistics - yet.

            I doubt they will hate the movie industry, they are being fed a constant stream of downloaders are stealing billions. Thats why there won't be another Harry Potter movie, the pirates stole all the money to make the one where he marries you.

            You're joking surely!

            (Of course the HP franchise ended because the books were always intended to be just 7 - covering his 7 years at the school so there won't be another film because JKR says so - no other reason)

             

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              That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:23am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a good idea....

              re ACS:Law -
              They focused more on games, music, porn where you don't have multiple entities involved.
              ACS:Law clients usually only have 1 outward facing face/name.
              USCG clients tend to be small names formed just for a few movies.

              re HP comment -
              Its a take off from Lisa Simpson meeting a JKR type, where the girls always ask what happens next and her reply is he falls in love with you and you get married.

               

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            Richard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a good idea....

            People seem to have short memories or just don't care.

            That's what Rupert Murdoch thought when he accused the Liverpool supporters of causing the Hillborough tragedy. 20 years later sales of The Sun in Liverpool still haven't recovered 23 years later.

             

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            Jeff Rife, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 10:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a good idea....

            The threats all come on USCG letterhead.
            The ISP letters all say USCG.
            Nu Image feels safely buffered.
            Nu Image holds the copyright, and is thus the only entity with standing to sue for copyright infringement.

            So, if USCG is claiming to own the copyright, they will lose every case regardless of whether there was any infringement. This is one thing that the Righthaven lawsuits have shown us.

             

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    abc gum, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:28am

    It is quite likely that not all of the 23,322 IP address actually downloaded anything.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:32am

    Hi, I'm starting a business in the area of copyright shakedowns*, but I have a question about those IP addresses: Do I have to provide some proof that those IP addresses actually infringed, or show the validity of those IP addresses and the validity of the method used to acquire them? Or can I just randomly generate a few IP addresses, got to a judge and say "They did it!", and then drop the case as soon as I've shakendown - uh - settled with a few hundred people?



    * Actually, I was kidding. But the rest is serious.

     

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    Christopher Weigel, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:55am

    I have to wonder if, now that they have their identifying information, they've simply decided to go straight to the "extortion letter" segment of their business model.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:02am

      Re:

      Without a pending case most of their threats become hollow.

      It will cost them $350 a head to file against each Doe, and will have to be done in the proper court where the lawyers of USCG may not be accepted to practice.
      Then they need to travel the country appearing in these cases.
      They could try to farm the work out to smaller firms, but given the findings in the lawsuit against USCG the very real idea that the IP lists are made out of fantasy, I doubt any smaller firm would want to walk into court with evidence that will fold.

      It is quite possible they have decided to cut the losses and run.

       

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      Richard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:24am

      Re:

      I have to wonder if, now that they have their identifying information, they've simply decided to go straight to the "extortion letter" segment of their business model.

      Until they get this case through they don't have the identifying information so they are stuck.

      They could of course try contacting random victims from the phone book. (This is actually happening in the UK).

       

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    Scooters (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:17am

    English.

    Every time I see "USCG", I think United States Coast Guard, which comically has the nickname "Puddle Pirates" (which was before the branch became part of the DoD and given by us squid, so no offense to those serving *salutes).

    On topic now, I don't think they'll refile. Has there been any successful mass-suing lawsuit which has moved forward?

    I don't recall reading any news so far, and perhaps those who file read Techdirt and realize they're "Righthaven" and don't want to suffer the same public and judicial scrutiny.

    Now, excuse me. I'm going to eat some crow to think reporting this news isn't doing anything. Anyone got any ketchup?

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:43am

      Re: English.

      There are many trolls who have been given the subpenas to get names.
      The all get sent a threat letter of some type, some get phone calls.
      Some of those people settle, some of them get lawyers, some don't respond.
      Some people engage them in conversations, and end up handing them a confession.
      Some people are convinced by the trolls its their internet account so they have to pay even if they know nothing about it.
      Some of the trolls only handle porn work, so they make sure to mention that your name isn't public yet and if you pay up no one will need to know.

      The settlement letters are where the money is made.
      If they actually took someone to court who hasn't made an admission of guilt, then their entire business model could collapse as the IP gathering technique would have to be revealed to the Doe's lawyer and experts.
      (see the article 2 below this one about USCG and some problems from a lawsuit against them)
      The experts could slice and dice the system and show that there are severe problems with IP identification as it is commonly done.
      There might also be proof that the IP gathering firm might have seeded the file in the first place.

      There are way to many downsides to taking people to court, the only ones ever named are the ones who have basically admitted guilt and then its just more pressure because loosing in court is $150,000... so paying a few thousand seems more palatable.

       

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    Robert Doyle (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    So, let's say actual damages are 20$ a person - you know, the price of the movie... multiplied by 23k people... works out to... a lot less than the lawyer fees and bad press?

    They need to hire some people who can do math, never mind lawyers.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      Ahhh but the magic of copyright law allows them to seek statutory damages of up to $150,000 and bonuses for doing it on purpose, and lawyer fees and the kitchen sink.

      Why settle for $20 when you can get in the neighborhood of $2000 per person settling.

      If the law were amended to cap noncommercial infringement at $20 (the price it will end up being at WalMart soon enough), I doubt they would be screaming quite so loud.

       

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