Verizon Handing Over Names For US Copyright Group's Mass Automated Lawsuits
from the shame-on-verizon dept
We’ve already discussed how the so-called US Copyright Group (which seems like a bit of a front for DC-based law firm Dunlap Grubb Weaver — tag line: “Lawyers with a Higher Standard” — since the first named partner in the operation, Thomas Dunlap, also happens to appear to run US Copyright Group) has been filing tens of thousands of questionable lawsuits for certain movie producers, including, most recently 5,000 lawsuits for those accused of file sharing Hurt Locker. Of course, it looks like this particular operation is nothing more than a copy of European operations like ACS:Law, whose main goal is not to take anyone to court, but to get people to pay up to not get sued. In this case, US Copyright Group’s starting offer is $1,500 to not get sued. How generous.
When the news of this operation first came to light, it was noted that one major ISP had already agreed to hand over names of folks based on IP addresses. At the time, we wondered who that was. Later on, we found out, Dunlap claimed that 75% of ISPs were cooperating. Again, we wondered who was actually doing this. The only major ISP we know who is fighting handing over the names is Time Warner Cable. In response, Dunlap is trying to advance the novel legal theory (i.e., one that would get laughed out of court) that by not handing over the names TWC is guilty of inducing infringement itself.
Well, now we know at least one ISP that is handing over the names In a rather annoying “photo gallery” put together by News.com that only shows one photo per page so you need to click through a bunch of pages to get the actual story (nice to see News.com stooping to cheap page view boosting tricks), we find out that Verizon is handing over names to US Copyright Group. The photo gallery shows images from one guy who received one of these pre-settlement letters. Verizon apparently gave him less than a week to retain a lawyer to fight the subpoena or it would hand over his info.
This is unfortunate. Verizon was the one big ISP that stood up to the RIAA back in the early days, when it pulled a similar trick, going to court to protect its customers’ identities. It’s too bad that it no longer thinks so highly of protecting its customers.
Some other tidbits from the letter in the News.com story: US Copyright Group demands $1,500 not to sue, but only if you pay up within a month. After that the price goes up to $2,500. The letter, not surprisingly warns that the producers of the film will seek at least $30,000 per infringement in any lawsuit, with the possibility of asking for $150,000, if it believes it can prove the infringement was “intentional.”
The letter cites the ruling against Joel Tenenbaum to support why it’s cheaper to pay up. Amusingly, but not surprisingly, it doesn’t cite the ruling against Jammie Thomas, who also was ordered to pay huge amounts… until the judge greatly reduced the award. Funny that the lawyers would omit that little fact…
Also, the letter (which is not about Hurt Locker, but about Uwe Boll’s Far Cry) points people to www.farcry-settlement.com, which you can check out for yourself.
Oh, as for the guy who showed the letter to News.com. He has an open WiFi setup, says he doesn’t know who downloaded the film and appears pretty annoyed by the whole thing:
“For me, the issue here isn’t whether or not peer-to-peer is evil,” said Harrison, a photographer. “It is whether or not our federal courts and Verizon should cooperate with such an obvious intimidation scam.”