US Copyright Group Sued For Extortion, Conspiracy & Fraud

from the class-action dept

Well, the whole mass automated "pay up or we'll sue" legal business may be getting a bit more interesting as Evan Brown notes that one of the folks sued by US Copyright Group has struck back with a class action lawsuit alleging that the law firm behind USCG, Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, is engaged in extortion, fraud and conspiracy. The lawsuit looks to include in the class the nearly 5,000 people sued by USCG for sharing the Uwe Boll film Far Cry. The lawsuit highlights -- as we pointed out earlier this year -- many of the alleged infringements happened prior to registration, meaning that there would be no statutory damages available. However, USCG didn't bother to mention that and still used the statutory damages threat in its letters:
This knowing misstatement of material information was made to maximize the damage awards that Defendants could pursue, the claims for Ineligible Remedies they could threaten in demand letters, and the volume and amount of extorted "settlements" that would result.
The lawsuit then uses DGW's own professed "copyright expertise" against it, noting that it clearly was aware of the rules concerning registration and statutory damages, even though it knew that it had no right to statutory damages, and thus, committed fraud and extortion.

Oh yeah... one part of the fraud, according to the lawsuit, is that DGW submitted the Far Cry copyright registration with a false "first date of publication" (which is a key date in whether or not they could go after statutory damages). Thus, the lawsuit claims, DGW/USCG actually committed fraud on the US Copyright Office.

To be honest, I'm guessing that the likelihood of this lawsuit getting very far is slim. Such is the nature of such charges in the past. However, it does appear that this one has a lot more going for it than other similar lawsuits, given the late copyright registration, which really does look bad for USCG. No matter what, this will be an interesting case to watch. The full lawsuit is included after the jump.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: copyright, extortion, fraud, lawsuits, uwe boll
Companies: dunlap grubb & weaver, us copyright group

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Nov 2010 @ 6:25pm

    I hope the mallet hurts the US Copyright Group really bad, they deserve all the pain.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.