Hurt Locker Producers Now Understand The Copyright Troll Shakedown Better: Sue 2,514 More Defendants

from the follow-the-bounding-ball dept

Voltage Pictures, the maker of The Hurt Locker, was one of the first companies to bring ridiculous copyright trolling practices to the US, where they sue thousands of people based solely on a questionably-sourced IP address. In fact, last year, the company sued nearly 25,000 people in one shot for supposedly file sharing the movie. Of course, the goal is not to actually go to court on any of these cases. Instead, it’s just about getting people to pay up — and so these “companies” are adapting.. And, as TorrentFreak noes, it appears that Voltage Pictures, (with an assist from Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver — the tiny DC law firm that started “US Copyright Group” to do these kinds of cases, but which has gone nowhere) hasn’t learned not to do this any more. It’s just suing another 2,514 people for sharing, pretty much guaranteeing that no kids ever want to work for them in the future. However, it’s also learned a few other things — including how to get around the fact that many ISPs are pushing back on these kinds of things. For example, while plenty of ISPs have fought back against these lawsuits, in this lawsuit, Voltage Pictures only sued users who were subscribers of Charter Communications. Charter has shown a willingness to hand over such data when asked. So one way to avoid having ISPs challenge you in court is to focus on the ISP least likely to challenge your notices. Also, the new lawsuit is filed in Florida, which seems to have become the breeding ground for these kinds of troll fights lately — so apparently Voltage and Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver think that perhaps this case might last long enough for them to get enough names and get enough people to pay to make it worthwhile. It would be nice if the court were to kill off the subpoena and note that it appears to be an abuse of power again.

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Companies: us copyright group

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Comments on “Hurt Locker Producers Now Understand The Copyright Troll Shakedown Better: Sue 2,514 More Defendants”

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51 Comments
radiatorninjaen (profile) says:

Perhaps it’s just me, but isn’t this kind of business suicide by Charter Communications? If all other ISPs usually fight back, why would anyone chose CC as their ISP after this? Around here, it’s usually people’s tech friends who advise people on which ISP to choose. I’m already telling everyone I know not to use a certain ISP here, because they use deep packet inspection for blocking, whereas everyone just put in a silly DNS filter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

You are kind of missing the point adamj.
They aren’t idiots, they are fully aware that ip addresses don’t identify infringers and they have no intention of taking anyone into court.
This particular business model relies on a percentage of the general public being ignorant and the purpose is simply to threaten them with court unless they pay up.

It’s pretty much like patent trolling, going to court with representation will cost you money, paying the suggested amount will cost you less and if you are unaware of the fact that they will have absolutely no case, fearful perhaps that a member of your household might have done the thing you’re being accused of, paying up might seem the best option.

It is a legal blackmail scam and that any judges allow it to persist for any time at all brings the entire judicial system into the utmost disrepute.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“I guess they dont realize that wireless technology can be hacked…”

That’s hard, sometimes impracticable, and not very cool. A much cooler way of burning someone is to infect their machine with a trojan (skip this step if your victim is using windows, because they are probably already infected).

Then you can get use the sucker’s machine as a proxy to download Hurt Locker into your own machine. The sucker gets the blame, while you get the files.

It’s cool? From the perspective of the hacker, that is. The victim will just get shaken down by the studio.

(Just kidding here. Don’t do this. It’s bad.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re:

That’s hard, sometimes impracticable, and not very cool.

Actually, it’s pretty easy for your average script kiddie, and using WPA makes breaking it more time-consuming, but not more difficult. It’s certainly not cool, though.

If you’re using 802.11 and you are worried about someone making unauthorized use of it, don’t think that the built-in security protects you. It’s like locking your screen door: it will keep people from accidentally wandering in, but won’t stop someone who is trying.

Instead, require a VPN over your Wifi.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re:

Most consumer and small business communications complaints could be at least partly solved with more competition.

Right now we have one cable company in our city, and the DSL service is so terrible that even people who know nothing about technology want nothing to do with it. We have a fiber company that has the city ringed with fiber funded using some rural-only funding an authority from the state. The fiber company wants to lay fiber in the city itself now, and the local cable company is fighting that at insane levels. Even the threat of competition has been good for consumers; the local cable company has not raised rates recently, and has started offering some new package plans to existing customers that are actually attractive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Charter customer here. I called in to discuss their policies on copyright and what burden of proof they require. Just got passed around whatever foreign call center they are using. Got accused of illegal file sharing (only been a customer less than 3 weeks) and was read the DMCA over and over. It seems Charter is clueless. The speed and price is really good, but this may be a deal breaker.

iamtheky (profile) says:

I bet a dollar...

the law firm is working without fee if not paying Voltage for the privilege of letting them go after this small set.

Since they have been in the shakedown business for a solid year now with nothing to show, the US Copyright Group has to find a way to prove their strategy profitable. As of now there are only downsides to their approach, thus not so many customers requesting the service.

If we could see the agreement for this latest round, I bet that Voltage is getting actual and potential revenue in exchange for little more than a head nod.

Overcast (profile) says:

The butt hurt locker, lol.

You know, I’ve seen this on my on-demand premium, and even though I could watch it for free – the nastiness of the whole situation on this… I just skipped it.

Look at the time, energy, and money wasted on this.

EVEN IF they win 99% of the lawsuits, I doubt they’d even collect enough to cover their travel expenses. I mean, seriously, if the people they are suing have the cash to pay for a judgement – it’s very likely they would have had the cash to buy the movie.

Just be more chapter 7 filings after the ‘award’… lol

Michael Knight (profile) says:

Hurt Locker

When I first read about what this studio was doing I choose to avoid any movie produced by them and have attempted to influence all I know to do the same. It is the only way to fight back against this BS. As I see it, slapping around customers, no matter their excuse, is a bad idea. But they will get away with this behavior as long as we the public buy their product. So if you don’t like what they are doing avoid their products people.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re:

Q – Was it just a be good and stop message or was it the popular someone is seeking your account details letter?

The first one most likely won’t go anywhere until 6 strikes is in full effect or Charter decides not having customers is more important than not bending over for the **AA’s.

If it is the latter, they really can’t do anything. A court has ordered your details to be handed over. Several courts, including the court of the former RIAA lobbyist, have ruled that the account holders aka does have no standing to stop this release. This is confusing in that the account holder might not actually be the Doe being sought and there is no freaking way from an IP address to prove this.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I bet a dollar...

Costs of one of these cases.
$350 to file for X thousand names. (X can be 1 or 20)
$X per name for the reports from the ISP, these have limits to how much.
$1 or less to send a threat/demand letter(s).
$5 or less to make phonecalls to scare the shakey ones.

Cost to settle, my timeline on USCG is off I am sure SJD can correct me if I am wrong, is around $3000.

Using the ACS:UK model the lawfirm gets to keep 80% of recovery AFTER costs. Costs include a cut going to the “company” providing the IP captures, they do NOT work for a set fee.

How many settlements do you need to reach profitability?

They tell people even if you didn’t do it your somehow still responsible.
The Randazza Group was seeking $10,000 for people having open Wifi, for not having done enough to “secure” their connection. There is no law demanding this, and a court in Hawaii recently dismissed with prejudice that portion of a claim.

They will get you to throw your children, neighbors, etc under the bus and still seek money from you.
The USCG cases are slightly more clean than the porn shakedowns, threatening to publicly brand someone a pirate is disturbing but branding them a porn pirate is much more damaging. Steele’s latest reinvention actually posted the names of the accused as pirates on their website, until someone submitted it in a court filing and suddenly that was gone.

The damage to your brand from pursing these cases is large. Shaking down 70+ yr olds for porn or Uwe Bolle films they allegedly downloaded really does stick in peoples minds.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re:

The methods used to capture the IP addresses is “secret”.
That is the beauty of these cases, no expert testimony to challenge the tech. No Judge has looked past a paid firms expert saying yep this is all perfectly 100% accurate.

It is well known they framed a laser printer on a P2P network multiple times, but Judges are unaware of this fact.

Until the tech is held up, it doesn’t matter if you did or didn’t do it… your on the list you need to pay.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re:

They didn’t.
They were gathered most likely by a German firm, which if you dig will be a spin off of a larger firm.
Each troll and sometimes each case has a different German based firm providing the data. This is to keep them from having the domino effect hit all of the cases. If one of them actually ends up in court and the IP “evidence” is shown to be faulty only 1 case collapses. All of the other cases are different firms, even if they all use the same underlying tech.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The real solution...

A judge ruling the damages they can get is the cost of a DVD sale.
That would destroy this entire shakedown industry.

Allowing them to claim you will be on the hook for $150,000 and even if your innocent the cost to prove that will be more than our generous settlement offer. And all of your neighbors will know what we claim you did, and you’ll be embarrassed. Just pay us.

Make the max award $25, the cost of a DVD + a little extra. See how long they try to keep going.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re:

Very few ISPs have bothered to fight back.
Only when the requests started to become 50K a month total did they decide they needed to do something.

And this is nothing compared to 6 strikes.
Where 6 accusations made with the same faulty tech will lead to some unknown steps being taken against you by the ISP. Supposedly disconnecting the user is off the table, but throttling connection down to just about dialup is on the table.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

>The long term actions of the pirates is to pretty much burn it all down, and to frolic in the ashes.

That’s as sensible as Anonymous allegedly taking out the power grid. Pirates will fund what they think is worth funding. On the other hand the recording industries are keen on suing everyone regardless of whether they can pay up and keep the money for themselves, telling their underpaid staff to sue kids for money.

The industry is frolicking in the ashes of the goodwill of the people which they happily destroyed for quick bucks.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

“Haven’t seen it myself, nor will I.”

It’s not a bad film, not sure how realistic it is. I did love the schadenfreude of seeing Kathryn Bigelow beat her ex husband at the Oscars, though…

I saw it for free, myself. Not because I pirated personally, but because the refusal to offer decent legal services here in Spain has led to a roaring trade for Chinese guys who wander round with cheap pirated DVDs of new films to sell to locals and tourists alike. A lot of people I know buy them, even though they’d mostly be willing to sign up for Netflix or similar, if only they were available… Oh well, I guess legalised protection rackets are more profitable than legitimate offerings.

confused. says:

How can the Bar of District of Columbia and Washington Bar allow this behavior. A college friend just had his license taken away due to complaints from clients and outside sources. The 3 complaints to have his license pulled dont even compare to what these copyright lawyers are doing to people. Guilty before Innocent Just aint right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Boycotting!!!

Personally I’m highly against this on many different grounds and not just moral ones. In reality -since the time of movie streaming – companies have actually been same or better off thanks to open share information statistically speaking. Why is this? Simple because of open information sharing their movies have reached a wider audience than they could have ever hoped and at virtually no cost – it may seem like they are loosing money because people way their films online rather than going to a theater but in reality thanks to the free publicity of online streaming and downloading those same movie companies are getting their revenue through different means. Not just in obvious things such as advertisement as sites will pay companies to allow them to post information and pictures about the movie but through merchandize who h tends to cost quite a real more than 10$ movie ticket. The people purchasing merchandize is statistically greater than that of 10 years ago not just because of the “free publicity” they pay through by the loss of that 10$ movie ticket but because of sites like eBay people who are not from the country the film originated in are able to purchase merchandize they would have otherwise been unable to get or would have elected not to get for perhaps finical reasons. Let’s do a simple calculation to prove my theory. If 100 people went and saw the movie at 10$ a pop the film company would make 1000$ and the viewers would pry share news of the film with a fee people but not to many as they’d pry guess everyone already knows about it thanks to social media and the like but for the sake of this experiment we’ll say they each tell 3 friends so 100 viewers becomes a potential of 300 which of course could bring more profit. Now let’s take the same 100 people but have them watch the movie online stream or downloaded since they watch it online they pay 0$ in immediate fees and the company makes 0$ immediately however let’s say 20% of them buy a piece of merchandize at 25$ each than the company makes 500$ off of just 20ppl instead of 50ppl. Now let say 50% of the 100 share their view of this movie on social media and reach at least 10 new people each so 50 becomes 500 instead of 100 becoming 300. While less people may talk about it immediately it reaches a greater audience thanks to social media sites. This of course brings in greater potential profits that’s starts a chain reactions. And while some companies may suffer form this others may prosper but let’s face it the ones are doing terribly are probably not worth watching anyways. Just saying.

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