Torrent users sue US Copyright Group for fraud and extortion

By Emil
Nov 29, 2010
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  1. Dmitriy Shirokov is suing a Washington law firm that sent threatening letters to thousands of alleged movie downloaders, accusing the firm of fraud and extortion. He filed the 96-page lawsuit, which argues that lawyers at Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver made a business of threatening people with expensive litigation and fines unless they pay "settlement offers" of $1,500 to $2,500, in the US District Court of Massachusetts.

    Read the whole story
  2. Fantastic!

    Finally someone standing up to the corrupt corporations that abuse, harass, and steal hard-working tax payers' money!!!!!!!!
  3. yRaz

    yRaz TechSpot Booster Posts: 768   +47

  4. princeton

    princeton TechSpot Addict Posts: 1,716

    "Thomas Dunlap obtained a US copyright on the work by falsely asserting a date of "first publication" of November 24, 2009, allowing the law firm to claim that downloaders would be liable for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per download. Actual damages under the limited protection for works shown long before the copyright date would be a fraction of the retail DVD price of $27."

    Should be grounds for life in prison. That's cheating the system to try to destroy other peoples lives in an economic crisis.
  5. stensland

    stensland Newcomer, in training Posts: 65

    Scrap life in prison, executions all around :D
  6. yRaz

    yRaz TechSpot Booster Posts: 768   +47

    get out the Guillotine, it's time for public executions.
  7. matrix86

    matrix86 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 796   +8

    Send them down here to Texas and we'll make sure that happens, lol.
  8. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,235   +315

    This lawsuit will go exactly nowhere. People were caught illegally downloading a copyrighted product, they got busted, and that's that. Perfectly within the rights of the copyright protection agencies to go after those people no matter how much they complain about it. And is also a very, VERY common practice to offer a settlement first prior to litigation.

    I also find it amusing that a Russian - who's ethnic group is arguably the largest collection of illegal downloaders and propagators of malware/viruses/spam in the world - is filing this lawsuit.
  9. princeton

    princeton TechSpot Addict Posts: 1,716

    You do realize the companies "moving" the movies establishment date to make the fines higher is also probably "illegal"
  10. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,235   +315

    Copyright protection lasts for 70 years (as of 1978). There is no such thing as "limited protection of works." I have no clue what Dmitriy is trying to demonstrate tossing these various dates around, but they're completely irrelevant when it comes down to copyright protection within the first 70 years of copyright issue. Doesn't make any difference if Far Cry 2 was release in 2007, 2008 or even 1940. It's still a protected product.
  11. princeton

    princeton TechSpot Addict Posts: 1,716

    It changes the amount the people would have paid. Read the article...
  12. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,706   +591

    Who is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Acton, Middlesex County)
    Damn Bostonians !

    He-ah in Bawston...paying fow-ah movies is nawt owah thing...

    Come to think of it Tom...with the amount of Xenophobia you're displaying, you'd probably fit right in

    BTW: The term used to discribe the actions of these "lawyers" is Copyright Profiteering - and no, it's not a compliment.
  13. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,235   +315

    Yes, I read the article and again, that is irrelevant. This is how it works sports fans. You go steal a gallon of milk that runs $2.00. You get busted, you go to trial. You're found guilty of theft. Do you pay the $2.00 and everyone says "OK, we're all good now?" Not quite. You violated the law which has set fines for being guilty. You will pay several hundred dollars in fines, court costs, attorney fees, plus maybe have to serve a little jail time or community service. Has nothing to do with the milk costing $2.00 or when the milk was put out for sale. It's the criminal charge penalty cost.

    So let's say they offer a settlement in advance such as what's going on here with Far Cry instead. You can bypass all the nastiness of going to trial by cutting a check instead. Again, the $2.00 is irrelevant - the negotiated settlement is based on the penalties you might incur if found guilty in a court.

    The only time the amount comes into play is if it bumps the charge into a greater category of theft (grand theft or grand larceny as example).

    Oh yes, I'm a Xenophobe for sure, divide. You really nailed it...
     
  14. PinothyJ

    PinothyJ TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 429   +15

    What's the definition of blackmail again?

    I don't care if it is "common practice", that be blackmail, at least as defined by US law which is what will be the most applicable here.


    You kids and your lawyers?
  15. PinothyJ

    PinothyJ TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 429   +15

    Um, replace the '?' with '...', obviously techspot doesn't accept ellipses :(...
  16. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,235   +315

    No Pinothyj, it's not blackmail either. These people engaged in theft of copyrighted material and are being offered an alternate settlement rather than going to court. I believe there's a case out there right now where some gal decided to go to court, was found guilty and hit with a 163 million dollar fine (which even I think is off-the-charts insane). She's appealed twice and lost both times although the amount has been reduced to a "few" million dollars.

    So basically, if you're not guilty and feel confident you can prove it, by all means go to court. Otherwise, this settlement offer gives you the opportunity to wash your hands of the affair and hopefully not suffer what this poor gal has gone through.

    And the moral of the story? Don't steal and bad ju-ju won't come your way! ;)
  17. Darkshadoe

    Darkshadoe TechSpot Maniac Posts: 451   +62

    Exactly WHAT PROOF does these lawyers have to sue these people? IP addresses? Tell ya what Tom, Let me hack your personal wireless network and download a few thousand movies and songs and you can explain why you downloaded all those movies and songs to the lawyers.
  18. Darkshadoe

    Darkshadoe TechSpot Maniac Posts: 451   +62

    Your analogy is inaccurate.

    If a store only had one 2 gallon jug of milk and I went in and took that jug of milk home, that would be considered stealing.

    If a store had only one 2 gallon jug of milk and I went in and made a perfect clone of the jug of milk, leaving the original jug of milk in the store, took the cloned jug of milk home, that is copyright infringement.

    To steal, you must deprive the store owner from the use of his or her 2 gallon jug of milk. If he or she still has possession of his or her jug of milk, it could not have been stolen.
  19. PinothyJ

    PinothyJ TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 429   +15

    No, that's blackmail. If I have pictures of you doing something illegal with a goat and offer the only copies of these pictures to you for a small 'settlement' that there is blackmail. What is the difference between this firm who have 'evidence' of these people doing something illegal who will agree not to proceed if an agreed 'settlement' is paid? If a settlement is agree during proceeding then that is one thing, but as that is written and as the situation was describe, that is blackmail. As I said in my last post, I don't care if that is an accepted practice, it's blackmail.

    PS. the goat says hi…
  20. crazyboy88

    crazyboy88 Newcomer, in training Posts: 21

    nice analogy :)

    hang them lawyers ^ ^
  21. Darkshadoe

    Darkshadoe TechSpot Maniac Posts: 451   +62

    LOL nice :D

    Seriously though, I was reading through the court papers and found this very interesting...

    "192. But in the meantime, the Letter emphatically demands that no files be removed until
    settlement is finalized:

    (This is part of the USCG letter)
    Please consider this letter to constitute formal notice that until and unless we
    are able to settle our client’s claim with you, we demand that you not delete any
    media files from your computer."

    Correct me if I am wrong , but wouldn't this be proof they have no evidence that someone actually downloaded that movie? Also since this is a threat letter, they have not officially filed the lawsuit against the defendant so erasing or destroying the hard drive would not be destruction of evidence.
  22. matrix86

    matrix86 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 796   +8

    Technically, there is nothing wrong with pirating music/movies. Like everyone else is saying, it's just simple copying. Nothing is literally being stolen. Lawfully, though, it is illegal. If something is copyrighted, you are not allowed to distribute that material (meaning uploading it for someone else to download it) without authorization. That's just the pure and simple law...unfair but still the law.

    The problem, though, is that even if I can't get that movie or music off the net, I can just go to the library, stick it in my computer, copy it, and nobody would ever know. So there's no difference between me doing this online than going to my local library. Only difference is that if I wanted to distribute what I copied, I'd have to charge for the CD/DVD I bought to burn it on...which would bring us into a whole new subject of stealing and copyrighting. I don't agree with doing that. But the full freeness you get on P2P sites, I find nothing wrong with it as the distributor is not making any money off of it.
  23. There are so many things wrong with that (russian) statement, so you know what.... gtfo
  24. Sorry, last statement was directed towards " TomSEA " on the main page of the article
  25. PanicX

    PanicX TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 829

    Can you link the article you read, because all I see a link to here is the actual filed lawsuit documents. Are you implying you read the whole 96 page lawsuit? And after reading the whole lawsuit, continue to fail at comprehending the meaning of the lawsuit?

    The lawsuit then clearly defines how the defendant LIES about the publication dates to inflate the proposed damages and extort more from their victims, while having no proof of damages and never intending to actually litigate.

    I have to say, your blind, unyielding defense of the RIAA, MPAA and friends, really detracts from any legitimate point of view you'd like to express. Defending intellectual property / copyrights definitely has a strong argumentative advantage, but ignorantly evangelizing the methods of reciprocity used by these companies easily pegs you as a shill and ultimately invalidates your opinions.


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