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.


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