Few weeks ago, the makers of the Oscar-winning movie Hurt Locker indicated that they would sue tens of thousands of U.S. BitTorrent users. In a classic ‘pay up or else’ scheme, the first 5,000 victims have now been officially reported to court. If ISPs cooperate these can expect a settlement request in their mailboxes soon.
It’s official. “Hurt Locker” producer Voltage Pictures has declared war on 5,000 unidentified people who allegedly pirated the Oscar-winning film. The lawsuit was filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Hoping to recoup some of their claimed losses, the makers of Hurt Locker have partnered (TF) with the very lucrative ‘pay up or else’ money making scheme of the U.S. Copyright Group. The goal of the scheme is to identify as many infringers as possible, and threaten them with ruinous court action. Of course, they will also be given the offer to settle for a relatively low amount of money.
All infringers that are identified will then be kindly asked to settle the dispute, or face further legal action. In the UK these schemes have been highly criticized by the public, consumer organizations and politicians because of the intimidating tactics and lack of solid evidence.
n the U.S. this particular case has not gone unnoticed either and it generated many headlines before an official complaint was filed. Although the U.S. Copyright Group say that 75% of ISPs are cooperating, most of the bigger ISPs remain skeptical, with Time Warner publicly resisting (TD) U.S. Copyright Group’s demands.
The U.S. Copyright Group, on its turn, went on to accuse (TD) Time Warner of inducing copyright infringement because of the refusal to expose its users. The group claims that Time Warner’s refusal to cooperate is a publicity stunt to gain the favor of consumers concerned about their privacy.
Here’s the complaint. According to the lawsuit: “A Defendant’s distribution of even one unlawful copy of a motion picture can result in the nearly instantaneous worldwide distribution of that single copy to a limitless number of people. The Plaintiff new seeks redress for this rampant infringement of their exclusive rights.”
Keep in mind that the number of people being sued may not be a fixed number.
The plaintiff will soon subpoena ISPs to identify the individuals behind the alleged IP addresses used for copyright infringement. Once people have been identified as targets, demand letters will go out. According to a settlement website in one of the earlier, related lawsuits, the plaintiffs are demanding $1500 to release each alleged pirate from liability. The penalties go up further without response. Ultimately, if an accused copyright infringer goes to trial, the plaintiff could seek maximum statutory damages in the amount of $150,000 per infringement, attorneys fees, and costs.
We encourage people who receive a settlement request to contact TF or write to us, so we can look at the details and possibly assist in countering the threats of which many more are expected to be sent out in the months to come.