As was widely rumored and more or less confirmed by the rude email from Hurt Locker’s producers, saying that anyone who thought this was a bad idea was a “moron” and a “thief,” the producers of Hurt Locker have now officially started suing people, whom they accuse of sharing the movie online in an unauthorized manner. While the initial rumors said that there would be “tens of thousands” of lawsuits — and some had predicted over 100,000 — at least the initial burst is for 5,000 people. The actual complaint (pdf and also embedded below) has some fun claims about how a single copy being distributed destroys the whole market blah blah blah. That this point is disproved time and time again by box office results apparently doesn’t matter:
Of course, this really has nothing to do with stopping unauthorized file sharing or the perceived harm of file sharing. This is entirely about trying to squeeze money out of people. Thomas Dunlap, the lawyer running this under the name US Copyright Group, isn’t looking to take any of these lawsuits to court. The whole point is to find out who these people are and to send them legal nastygrams, that come very close to your garden variety extortion letter — telling people that they’ll drop the lawsuit if they just pay $1,500. It comes across as a classic “protection racket.” “Pay up and you won’t get hurt.” Hopefully more ISPs stand up for their customers (and their own business interests) and don’t just roll over. But, more importantly, hopefully the courts recognize how questionable this practice is and start blocking such a clear abuse of the court system. Over in the UK, lawyers have been disciplined for these sorts of stunts, and in France, some lawyers were barred from practice for six months after trying to do something similar. With any luck, US officials recognize that this is an abuse of the legal system and work quickly to block this practice.