Bad Ideas: Hurt Locker Producers Preparing To Sue Tens Of Thousands Of File Sharers

from the putting-your-fans-in-the-hurt-locker dept

Apparently, the producers of the Oscar-winning movie Hurt Locker haven’t paid attention to what’s happened on the internet over the past decade. Despite the massive levels of backlash against the RIAA for its “sue consumers” strategy, the folks behind Hurt Locker are preparing to sue tens of thousands of people for unauthorized file sharing of the movie. Apparently, they’ve signed up with the relatively new operation US Copyright Group, that is trying to copy the strategy used by ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons in the UK, where they send out thousands upon thousands of “pre-settlement” offers to get people to pay up. This process has lead to condemnation from politicians (who have called it a scam) and lawyers being barred from practice and being disciplined by regulatory boards.

But, apparently, that’s of no concern to Hurt Locker’s producers, or to Thomas Dunlap, the lawyer behind this scorched earth sue ’em all campaign. They may learn — quite quickly — about the backlash suing your biggest fans can cause. It’s hard to think of a strategic move that will make things worse than this particular move. Have they not noticed what happened to Metallica after that band tried to sue its fans? Lots of people were interested in the movie after it won the Oscar, and plenty of people have been renting it. Yes, lots of people have been downloading it and sharing it as well, but that’s not going to stop one way or the other. But in attacking people who want to watch your movie not just with legal threats, but with a full on lawsuit is ridiculous on any level. I actually had Hurt Locker in my rental queue, but there’s no way I’m renting it now. I have no desire to support movie makers who would go to such ridiculous lengths for no good reason.

In the meantime, Dunlap and US Copyright Group are now claiming that 75% of ISPs have “cooperated fully.” That’s a very different story than we heard back in March — at which time only one ISP had cooperated, and others seemed pretty skeptical. In fact, in that original case, the fact that ISPs cooperated was even more questionable after it came to light that the copyright in question was not registered in time. If it’s true that most ISPs are cooperating and handing over IP address info, based on such sketchy proof, that would be a dangerous precedent. What happened to ISPs insisting they would never just hand over such information?

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Companies: us copyright group

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Comments on “Bad Ideas: Hurt Locker Producers Preparing To Sue Tens Of Thousands Of File Sharers”

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54 Comments
Steve says:

This comment on the original article pretty much sums up my take on the whole thing as well:

“As for the “settlement letters” being sent out…its all a big scam really. Suing everyone who refuses to pay would take far more money than they’d get back. A few law firms in the UK have been doing this whole settlement letter thing for years now and guess how many lawsuits they’ve filed? Zero. Threatening to sue someone is easy, all it takes is a piece of paper, an envelope, and a stamp. Actually suing someone on the other hand…that costs serious money and given the speed of our court system, quite probably years with no guarantee that they’d actually win. And if they lost…well that would set a precedent that would pretty much kill their scam. Not to mention the hugely negative publicity from being a big bad company and their legion of lawyers versus the poor schmuck working a 9-5 job who’s kid probably downloaded it without him knowing. Yeah, I don’t see a lawsuit ending well for any movie company stupid enough to actually bring one out. I’d bet good money we’ll never see these lawsuits even though we’ll get a dozen assurances that they’re “right around the corner” or “in the process of being filed”.”

Overcast (profile) says:

How about sending an invoice for $19.99 and a link to download a high quality version of the movie.

That’s a good idea, really.

If they were to contact the ISP’s – say they don’t want to sue, but could you send a copy of this letter to the user?

They could provide a link, explain why it’s better to own a real copy, explain how they need to maintain a bit of a profit to stay in business and profit will equal better quality movies, etc, etc..

Then if they were real smart – for the $19.99 they could offer the download + maybe a movie poster or a link to the soundtrack as a ‘bonus’.

I bet in the end, it would net them more money than lawsuits that end up forcing people into bankruptcy, or well – could.

I guess they missed the old cliche “You’ll get more bees with honey than vinegar”.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Blast them for allowing illegal file sharing…since we’re performing a criminal act, let’s make the people we’re stealing FROM look like dumbasses”

As everyone keeps pointing out to you TAM, it’s infringement, not theft, and it’s a civil matter, not criminal. I know even you aren’t that stupid, so it must be that you just love trolling sooooo much. Wish you’d find a better hobby.

RD says:

Re: WTF is TAM smoking NOW??

“you had the movie in your rental cue? does this mean the masnick actually pays and supports the evil movie industry? oh no, next you will tell us that you pay for music too! do as i say, not do as i do, i guess.”

WTF are you talking about TAM? Mike has ALWAYS supported paying for movies and music. Why do you always attempt to derail the topics into your willfully-ignorant version of people’s motivations and actions? Gotta earn that paycheck for being a shill or you get a pay cut or something?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: WTF is TAM smoking NOW??

who is tam? i am an anonymous poster. if mike is renting movies, he is supporting the very industry he hates. why would he do that? if the new online way of everything free is the way, why is he paying? is it that in the end, the selection of movies available for free just isnt up to his standards? if you are going to trash the movie and music industries, stop using their products. anything else is incredibly hypocritical, no?

RD says:

Re: Re: Re: WTF is TAM smoking NOW??

“who is tam? i am an anonymous poster. if mike is renting movies, he is supporting the very industry he hates. why would he do that? if the new online way of everything free is the way, why is he paying? is it that in the end, the selection of movies available for free just isnt up to his standards? if you are going to trash the movie and music industries, stop using their products. anything else is incredibly hypocritical, no?”

Uh…no, since as has been pointed out to you REAPEATEDLY TAM, Mike is NOT saying “never charge money for movies.” You are being a shilltard in suggesting otherwise.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: WTF is TAM smoking NOW??

if mike is renting movies, he is supporting the very industry he hates.

Who said I hate the movie industry? The opposite is true. I’m a huge fan of the movie industry (and the music industry). I love music and movies and spend a lot of many each year on both.

That’s why my posts focus on ways that they can do better and have better business models, by looking at ways that embrace fans and enable them, rather than trying to limit them or sue them.

I apologize if that wasn’t clear — though I have made that point explicitly many times.

My problem is only when players in those industries do things that seem clearly likely to harm themselves and those industries. That’s my complaint.

why would he do that? if the new online way of everything free is the way, why is he paying?

Weird. Frankly, I don’t know what site you’re reading, because I spend a lot of time explaining business models — which is how to get people to pay for stuff. I’ve never come close to suggesting that “everything free” makes sense, so I’m a bit confused by the assertion.

I believe that using free strategically in a way that makes economic sense is the best way to maximize your business potential.

You seem to be arguing against some sort of odd strawman. Or perhaps another site.

if you are going to trash the movie and music industries, stop using their products. anything else is incredibly hypocritical, no?

Again, I’ve not trashed either industry. I’ve only suggested better ways that they can make more money without pissing off their fans.

I am at a loss over your confusion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 WTF is TAM smoking NOW??

information is free. movies are just information, thus movies are free. if you dislike the way the movie industry is run, and you think their business models are bad for the consumer, then why are you a consumer? you make many posts slamming netflix, and then use their service anyway? that makes little sense. support them because you like them, or dont support them because they are wrong. dont say they are wrong and then support them anyway.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 WTF is TAM smoking NOW??

information is free. movies are just information, thus movies are free

Again, which site are you reading?

I have never said that. I have explained in great detail, why the economics of the situation may push the pricing to zero, but that’s different. Are you denying basic economics? If so, perhaps you could share your explanation of economics that goes against pretty much all of modern history. Again, you seem to keep accusing me of stuff I’ve never said, so I’m left confused to your point.

if you dislike the way the movie industry is run, and you think their business models are bad for the consumer, then why are you a consumer?

I did explain this in the comment you’re responding to. I like the industry. I think that some players make bad decisions.

Of course, I get the feeling if I said I wasn’t a consumer, your argument would be that I shouldn’t comment since I’m not the target market.

you make many posts slamming netflix, and then use their service anyway?

Who said I use Netflix?

support them because you like them, or dont support them because they are wrong. dont say they are wrong and then support them anyway.

Let’s see. You support Techdirt by coming here every day, but clearly, you don’t like us (though, the reasoning seems to be due to your inability to read — or your confusion over what we’ve said and bizarrely believing we’ve said stuff we haven’t).

So based on your logic, you should stop visiting this site. Bye.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 WTF is TAM smoking NOW??

i block the ads on this site only, turning them on only every so often to see what companies you have suckered into paying to advertise as their business models get slammed and they get called names. otherwise, i just read the stories, which you have said in the past is fine. after all, the people who paid for your cwf swag are the ones paying for the rest of us to enjoy your fine, well thought out site. as for the rest of your comments, you are doing pretty much what you always do, which is ‘do as i say, not do as i do’. if you want to hasten the downfall of the old systems, quit supporting them. quite paying hollywood for their movies, quit buying music, and start living with the free, copyleft, free music, free movies, and all that other stuff that you think is so important. walk the walk mike, impress us. show us how it is done. lead by example, or you are just another talker like rd, more than willing to call people out but unwilling to completely commit to your own vision of the future. the time is now to live what you preach. heck, i dare you. but you wont.

Anonymous Coward says:

What about the false IPs?

I mean the ones that arbitrarily get put in to slow down the leech-only clients and such, as well as the ones that are just plain spoofed. I have a hard time believing that the “evidence” being used is reliable, let alone sufficient. That takes a merely misguided strategy straight to malicious since it’s bound to net several innocent people–people who will have to spend thousands anyway just to defend themselves against spurious charges. Wretched.

Zaphod Beeblebrox says:

Re: What about the false IPs?

No worries about “false” IPs. This is where the ISP records make the evidence nearly irrefutable. They match the IP to the MAC address. Then they show other legitimate traffic (email, etc.) to the same machine and it’s time to write a check.

You can try to fight it but these prosecution teams have deep pockets to support all legal appeals. You’d spend an easy $20K and get nowhere.

Your best bet is to negotiate a settlement and pay it off as you can. They even take credit cards and have sliding scales based on your income and expenses if you want to share that information with them.

How do I know all this? I got nailed years ago for a cable box. It was years after it even went down when they knocked at the door. They had subpoenaed records that tied me to it.

I had a lawyer negotiate a $2K settlement and he charged me $1K. They wanted $4K.

Scootah (profile) says:

Shennanigans I say

Shennanigans. They over played their hand by “claiming that 75% of ISPs have “cooperated fully.” Shennanigans I say. I think this is an entirely fictious event intended to scare people away from downloading the movie. ISP’s only ever cooperate with this sort of nonsense when they’re under court order or when they’ve got an executive with crossed interests. It’s bad for their business.

But I bet if this move gets media traction and hits CNN.com’s front page – a pretty hefty number of people who would have downloaded it will avoid the torrents now just to be safe.

Depending on how much consumer backlash actually occurs – it might even play out. I think honestly, most of the people I know who wanted to watch Hurt Locker, will still want to watch it, even after hearing about this.

Anonymous Coward says:

…and sharing it as well…

The repetitive use of the word “share” and its derivatives in the context of the copying and distribution of works in contravention of US law is totally inappropriate and lends tacit support to those who choose to flaunt the law.

Such persons are actually engaging in illegal “copying/reproduction” and illegal “distribution”, which by no reasonable definition are even remotely related to the word “share”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

My comment was generic. In virtually all articles and discussions regarding P2P the use of the word “share” is a fixture. Its use here once again reflects misuse of the word as it pertains to the uploading/downloading of content without the permission of one who holds copyright in a work.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

My comment was generic. In virtually all articles and discussions regarding P2P the use of the word “share” is a fixture. Its use here once again reflects misuse of the word as it pertains to the uploading/downloading of content without the permission of one who holds copyright in a work.

You prefer “piracy”? Or “theft”?

RD says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“My comment was generic. In virtually all articles and discussions regarding P2P the use of the word “share” is a fixture. Its use here once again reflects misuse of the word as it pertains to the uploading/downloading of content without the permission of one who holds copyright in a work.”

Ok…so what? So does “theft” and “piracy”, which are ALSO misues of the word in the context of copyright INFRINGEMENT (look it up, its none of those things).

Anonymous Coward says:

“But in attacking people who want to watch your movie not just with legal threats, but with a full on lawsuit is ridiculous on any level. I actually had Hurt Locker in my rental queue, but there’s no way I’m renting it now. I have no desire to support movie makers who would go to such ridiculous lengths for no good reason. “

While I don’t disagree with you, honestly Mike, I think you need a vacation. I think you need to go outside for a while,get some fresh air, go some place with friends or something, have some fun and enjoyment instead of just writing techdirt all the time. I know the laws make me depressed, I know our legal system depresses me, etc… but now the same depression that our legal system gives me whenever I read techdirt seems to be affecting you more deeply as well. Maybe part of it is all the cynicism of all the commenters (including myself) and the very depressing state of things but perhaps taking a break might be a good thing to cheer things up for you. Don’t get too depressed.

StevO says:

This IS the new business model.

Actually this producer, will never have another good movie in his lifetime. So hes going to try and suck every ounce of money he can out of this one. The movie didnt do well because nobody knew what it was till the oscars. Then on top of it all, they never paid money to the poor guy that they based the movie off of. Hypocrites.

Daniel says:

no good reason?? How about the millions in lost revenue. So they should just sit by and allow people to illegally distribute their film? What would you do if someone just helped themselves to your stuff? How about I copy all your articles and say i wrote them? It may be mean and nasty, but you have to be mean to deter people from committing a crime.

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