Uwe Boll's Mass Automated Copyright Lawsuits Registered The Copyright Too Late

from the well,-look-at-that dept

We recently wrote about the newly filed tens of thousands of lawsuits claiming copyright infringement in the US as part of a “monetization” plan for some independent filmmakers. We didn’t realize at the time, but it’s no surprise that at least one of the filmmakers involved is Uwe Boll, famous for his previous rants against piracy. However, given that the lawsuits are really more about just trying to get people to cough up some cash, rather than any serious legal question, is it any surprise that the lawsuits themselves may be pretty weak?

Someone who prefers to remain anonymous notes that, in the lawsuit over Boll’s Far Cry, a film supposedly released in 2008, the lawyers for the so-called US Copyright Group point to the fact that the copyright registration that the lawsuits are based on was not granted until January of 2010:

Here’s the lawsuit filing that highlights this particular copyright:
Ah, but all those thousands of accused infringers? The vast, vast, vast majority of them were accused of infringing before the registration. Take a look
And, of course, while you can sue over unregistered copyrights, you’re greatly limited in what you can do with those lawsuits — especially when it comes to remedies. If I remember correctly, by registering more than 3 months after publication and doing so after infringement occurs, you can no longer seek statutory damages — just “actual damages” and the infringer’s profits (in this case, absolutely nothing). So, basically, it appears these lawsuits are meaningless. They basically can’t win any money — but, of course, the purpose isn’t to actually win money in a lawsuit. It’s to scare people into paying up — and most recipients of the threat letters won’t realize that the copyright registration was too late and that the lawsuit likely won’t go anywhere.

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Comments on “Uwe Boll's Mass Automated Copyright Lawsuits Registered The Copyright Too Late”

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37 Comments
:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 11th Commandment

I thought it was “Distribute these commandments far and wide, so our Doomsday Cult will last until the end of time!”

Also–“commandment” is a bad translation. In the original Aramaic it reads “God’s 10 suggestion for better living.”
That whole “immutable laws” things is bullshit made up by the church.

Have a nice day.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 11th Commandment

“Also–“commandment” is a bad translation. In the original Aramaic it reads “God’s 10 suggestion for better living.”
That whole “immutable laws” things is bullshit made up by the church.”

Correct. Which is what makes the stance of the Babism and Baha’i faiths so stunningly awesome. They essentially say, “people need rules to live by, so we give them the rules they need. Then, when those rules become outdated, we say another ‘divine ruler’ has come about to give us brand new teachings”.

They’re effectively admitting that they just change things as needed….AS A RELIGION!

That is power….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Mike –

“Read the law.”

I’d suggest that you take a healthy dose of your own advice. Given that you constantly embarrass yourself with your clear lack of familiarity with copyright law, perhaps you should write about another subject matter entirely if you’re not willing to do the basic research required.

17 USC 412(c) notes that a plaintiff will be precluded from recovering attorney’s fees or statutory damages for infringements of a copyright occurring prior to its registration in only two circumstances, the most important of which, for purposes of this suit, is:

“(2) any infringement of copyright commenced after first publication of the work and before the effective date of its registration, unless such registration is made within three months after the first publication of the work”

A simple review of the copyright registration shows that the date of publication of the work was 11-24-2009 and the effective date of the registration is 01-19-2010. This falls clearly within the three month window provided for in the statute, therefore the plaintiff may proceed for statutory damages and attorneys fees for any infringements occurring before that time.

This is simple stuff, really.

Neil (SM) says:

scare tactics

RE: “It’s to scare people into paying up — and most recipients of the threat letters won’t realize that the copyright registration was too late and that the lawsuit likely won’t go anywhere.”

I get that, and I’m sure some might be intimidated. But I think nobody is going to just pay up without consulting a lawyer first. And then they will likely know what we know about this.

Michael (profile) says:

Is this mass FUD our new spam 2.0?

I don’t understand how it can be legal to spam out threatening legal letters to people with the intention of scaring them into paying you, especially when so many of these lawsuits used to intimidate are so baseless.

Is this the next form of successful Spam? The messages are propogated massively, meant to mislead, and the justification used to send them to people (“Your IP came up in our system!”) is frail at best.

Johnny Movie Fan says:

Re: Re: hrm

That doesn’t make a bit of sense. Your right to privacy doesn’t trump anything relating to the fight on piracy. If peoples’ IP address comes up as indicating a download, that is plenty of probable cause to subpeona the information and pursue legal action. The “privacy right” isn’t a right to steal content.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Lawyer Competance?

Lawyers are supposed to know the law, they also get paid big bucks for performing. It astounds me at the number of simple mistakes lawyers make, such as missing a deadline. Not only that but they are sloppy, some lawyers like to use intimidation rather than using the law in a correct manner. Makes you sick. No wonder our country is going down.

Anonymous Coward says:

For once, this is a lawsuit we can all support. ANYTHING done to get Uwe Bolls movies out of distribution is a good thing. Now maybe those movies can die a nice death into obscurity so no one else will scratch their eyeballs out after watching them.

Anyway, since torrents distribute as they download, I figure anyone who’s distributing an Uwe Boll movie deserves what they get.

Anonymous Coward says:

This sounds a bit like a variation on an old scam.
In australia ,There have been people who send out thousands of phony invoices to thousands of businesses. These ‘invoices’ are below the threshhold for being given serious attention by a large biz and apparently quite a few of these biz just automaticaly pay these phony invoices.

Fred von Lohmann (profile) says:

Section 412(c)

I think Comment #26 might have you on this one, Mike. Section 412(c) does let a copyright owner that registers within 3 months of first publication get statutory damages and attorneys fees back to the publication date. It is interesting that at least one of the defendants is alleged to have distributed the film **before** the initial publication date listed on the registration. I wonder how that happened?

It's the little things that add up says:

Don’t forget that “actual damages” would include the plaintiff’s share of the theater tickets that each of these defendants would have purchased, but for their dastardly deeds. Those are real claims, which protect those responsible for filing this mess from any liability — even if it would be difficult to collect on 2000+ judgments at a buck or two apiece.

Anonymous Coward says:

your wrong guys

original article poster is right, person who thought he was really clever is wrong,

your law states that there can be 3 months before first publication and copyright application

the copyright was applied for november 2009 and the registration was january 2010 – yes

but the film was released in October 2008 (first publication release date) and the copyright application was november 2009 so that is 13 months, not 3

you were looking at the wrong thing, and i didnt even have to use clever words to make the guy look stupid

well done OP on a good article 🙂

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