Hurt Locker Producers Demand Sanctions Against Lawyer Offering DIY Legal Kits

from the completely-insane dept

We've discussed in great detail the efforts by Voltage Pictures, the producers of the movie Hurt Locker to sue thousands of people for sharing the movie. Well, "sue" should be used loosely, as the effort, coordinated by US Copyright Group (really DC law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver), is really about demanding people pay up to avoid getting sued. We also wrote about a lawyer, Graham Syfert, who was offering (for sale) a DIY legal kit for individuals on the receiving end of such a lawsuit, who couldn't afford a lawyer. Apparently a bunch of folks have used those legal forms to make pro se filings -- and apparently some of them are working. The motions to quash have gone nowhere, but motions to dismiss are apparently getting some traction, and USCG and Voltage are not at all happy about it.

Apparently, the first threatened Syfert and have now filed a motion asking for sanctions against him. Yes, they want him fined for daring to help people respond to their scorched earth legal (business model) strategy.

What's funny is that Voltage, USCG and Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, may not be thrilled when they realize that some of the language used in their request for sanctions could be turned around and used against them as well:
"Any attorney ... who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct."
That sorta sounds like what USCG/DGW is doing, doesn't it?

Beyond sanctions, the motion says that Syfert should have to pay them for having to deal with people making filings in their own defense. Are they serious?

Syfert has a wonderful reply to the motion, noting that the jurisdiction is wrong, that since he's not a party to the lawsuit he is not subject to sanctions and that offering up legal forms does not make one liable for how they are used (and if it did, all sorts of legal forms publishers would be in trouble). There's also an amusing bit, where DGW includes an angry email from Syfert in response to a phone call between Syfert and Weaver (the W in DGW), where Syfert, in a mocking tone, suggests DGW hire him. DGW uses this to suggest that Syfert has ulterior motives. However, in his reply, Syfert points out that DGW left out the email where Weaver told Syfert they were actually looking to hire lawyers and asked for his resume... Both the motion for sanctions and the reply are after the jump...

Filed Under: copyright, diy forms, education, graham syfert, hurt locker, sanctions
Companies: dunlap grubb & weaver, us copyright group

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  1. icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), 1 Dec 2010 @ 4:21am

    The Hurt Locker

    Everyone involved in this movie should just relax and get over themselves. The Hurt Locker somehow beat out AVATAR at the Academy Awards and that is the only reason that people began downloading it.

    Let's think about this? Everyone wants their money from this movie that no one really watched when it was released. Hmmmmm. If someone had been thinking and streamed the movie over the web as soon as they found out they were nominated, or a few weeks before the Academy Awards; that may have been enough to drive some business through Netflix or Amazon or even pay per view.

    Now let's be realistic. You win a HUGE frickin' award against the biggest baddest movie of the year and you were not prepared with an immediate re-release into theaters???? Where did you think ppl would go to view the movie??? If I were accepting that award, I would have plugged a website where you can find the movie for a small fee, during the acceptance speech. Then just let the news media do all my advertising for the next few days.

    I suppose since the box office numbers on this movie were so dismal, suing people may actually make more money.

    Personally I watched it streamed over the web and Im really glad I didn't pay for it once. I can tell anyone who is receiving a lawsuit for DL'ing the Hurt Locker, they should counter sue for being subjected to a crappy movie.

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