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.