Record 24,583 people targeted for pirating The Hurt Locker

By on May 23, 2011, 6:03 PM

The US Copyright Group has been incredibly busy this month. Only two weeks ago, the law firm received federal subpoenas forcing internet service providers to unmask the accountholders of 23,322 IP addresses caught downloading and distributing the 2010 action film "The Expendables." At the time, it was reportedly the largest BitTorrent case in US history, but that record has been shattered this week by Voltage Pictures' "The Hurt Locker" -- the movie that arguably popularized the "pay or else" scheme.

According to TorrentFreak, the US Copyright Group has just added nearly 20,000 more defendants to its Hurt Locker suit, bringing the total number of alleged pirates to 24,583. When the US Copyright Group began dispatching threatening letters last year, its shenanigans went largely unnoticed until last May when 5,000 people were accused of downloading The Hurt Locker. The case is currently being overseen by Judge Beryl Howell, a former RIAA lobbyist and Managing Director of a so-called pirate-chasing outfit.

TorrentFreak has published information from a court document showing the number of supposed file-sharers per ISP. Most of the defendants are customers of Comcast (10,532), followed by Verizon (5,239), Charter (2,699), and Time Warner (1,750). Interestingly, the document also revealed that the US Copyright Group has secured deals with various ISPs to unveil subscribers accused of piracy in any case. Charter has agreed to look up 150 IP addresses a month while Verizon has committed to 100 per month.

ISPs have expressed frustration over John Doe torrent cases as they must dedicate resources to an unprecedented number of subpoenas. Last year, Time Warner said the US Copyright Group was out of control, requesting more lookups per month than law enforcement agencies. The cable company noted that it spends approximately $45 to perform each lookup and that it would have to beef up its Subpoena Compliance group to offer piracy-related lookups without interfering with legitimate emergencies.

Some judges are also tired of such money-grabbing practices. Judge Harold Baker recently dismissed a Canadian adult film company's subpoena request, ruling that an IP address is not a person. Meanwhile, Judge Milton Shadur threw out similar cases saying that they're "ill-considered" and "[abuse] the litigation system." Baker and Shadur said they wouldn't support companies seeking to expose the identities of users without evidence that their courts actually have jurisdiction over the defendants.

Considering the new agreements, it sounds like it could be a while before the US Copyright Group issues its latest round of letters. It would take many years for Charter and Verizon to fetch the personal details of each IP address -- and that's assuming the information is even stored for such a lengthy duration. Once mailed, the letters will presumably demand a settlement of $1,500 to $3,500. TorrentFreak notes that if "only" 10,000 of the accused infringers pay $2,000, the scare tactics could rake in $20 million.




User Comments: 42

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ramonsterns said:

Really, $1500-$3000?

This should be illegal.

Guest said:

fu~~ you RIAA, and all the greedy lobbying bastards who associate with them. what do they think they will accomplish, nothing. live free my mateys!!!!! arghhhhh

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Once more for the hard of hearing. Don't steal and you won't get a letter from the US Copyright Group.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

The thing is Tomm, that's not necessarily true. As Judge Baker pointed out earlier this month: "The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber's household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment."

There's no way to accurately tie actions occurring from an IP address to the subscriber and many innocent people are undoubtedly being scared into paying thousands of dollars. I don't doubt that many accused are actually guilty, but that doesn't make the practice right.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I'm a little more sympathetic for the films that were actually good. This just so happen to be one of em.

Guest said:

The burden of proof is on the courts these settlement letters are scare tactics and unfortunately in the US you can be sued with no recourse unless you sue back. This is a bs tactic and when you have a Judge who used to be a lobbyist I cannot see how this is not illegal. Our justice system is an abortion and our country is being controlled by lobbyist and corporations.

Guest said:

The smartest thing to do in this case is to ask for proof that you were the one who did the downloading and not someone else piggy-backing off of you. Either the lawyers will ask the court to shell out money for warrants of hard drive seizures or they'll all just say "you know what? Don't worry about it. They're right. We have no proof it was them." Just think about how much money and time would be spent on getting warrants approved and then going through all the info on all those hard drives. It just isn't worth it. Unfortunately, if you caught downloading, you most likely aren't smart enough to think of this, lol.

PinothyJ said:

Guest said:

The burden of proof is on the courts these settlement letters are scare tactics and unfortunately in the US you can be sued with no recourse unless you sue back. This is a bs tactic and when you have a Judge who used to be a lobbyist I cannot see how this is not illegal. Our justice system is an abortion and our country is being controlled by lobbyist and corporations.

JESUS MCWOW!

A guest actually contributes something worthwhile to a news story's discussion!

PRINT SCREEN...

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"The thing is Tomm, that's not necessarily true. As Judge Baker pointed out earlier this month: "The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber's household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment."

That's true, Matthew but those are also the most extreme and frankly laughable of examples. Seriously - how many of you have "a visitor with her laptop" sitting in your house illegally downloading movies? How many are stupid enough to have an unsecured wireless network so someone sitting in a car could illegally download movies using their network? And who would sit in a car and do that anyway? If they're going to hook up to an unsecured wireless network, it's to steal credit card info, not download movies. There's not a subscriber I know of that doesn't know what their Internet connection is being used for. And I have plenty of friends who engage in illegal downloads for which they get mass grief from me. I would hazard to guess, that out out of the 24,583 IP addresses reference in th is article, 24,582 of them knew exactly what they were doing.

PinothyJ said:

TomSEA said:

Once more for the hard of hearing. Don't steal and you won't get a letter from the US Copyright Group.

That's true and I agree with you, but I think the more important issue here is it being perfectly legal for anyone who has 'lawyer' after their name to blackmail potential law-breakers and it all be 100% legal - that is utter bollocks! If it were any other profession there would be an uproar. Let's say a builder noticed that your company's place of business doesn't meet the building and safety requirements, of which to fix would cost thousands. If they told you that they would force you to have it all fixed through them by the appropriate legal channels unless you pay them $2,000.

It is something that really gets my goat...

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"case is currently being overseen by Judge Beryl Howell, a former RIAA lobbyist and Managing Director of a so-called pirate-chasing outfit"

Yep, sounds like it'll be a fair trial to me

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

The thing is Tomm, that's not necessarily true. As Judge Baker pointed out earlier this month: "The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber's household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment."

There's no way to accurately tie actions occurring from an IP address to the subscriber and many innocent people are undoubtedly being scared into paying thousands of dollars. I don't doubt that many accused are actually guilty, but that doesn't make the practice right.

This smacks of the traffic cam, and the right to face your accuser deal. You are your IP address I guess to these guys.

"case is currently being overseen by Judge Beryl Howell, a former RIAA lobbyist and Managing Director of a so-called pirate-chasing outfit"

What? is this not an instant default recuse?

princeton princeton said:

"The case is currently being overseen by Judge Beryl Howell, a former RIAA lobbyist and Managing Director of a so-called pirate-chasing outfit."

Uh conflict of interest? Only in America.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

TomSEA said:

Once more for the hard of hearing. Don't steal and you won't get a letter from the US Copyright Group.

"Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985), was a United States Supreme Court case that discussed whether copies of copyrighted works could be regarded as stolen property for the purposes of a law which criminalized the interstate transportation of property that had been "stolen, converted or taken by fraud" and holding that they could not be so regarded under that law."

[link]

Secondly Tom, Do you have a wireless Router and can I piggy back off it? There is this movie I'm just wanting to see...

Jurassic4096 said:

Matthew said:

The thing is Tomm, that's not necessarily true. As Judge Baker pointed out earlier this month: "The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber's household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment."

There's no way to accurately tie actions occurring from an IP address to the subscriber and many innocent people are undoubtedly being scared into paying thousands of dollars. I don't doubt that many accused are actually guilty, but that doesn't make the practice right.

That's pretty silly. How many friends of yours have been arrested for a crime they didn't commit? Or got a speeding ticket on a day they took the bus? Just because it's done over the internet, doesn't mean you can't prove who committed the offence. Recent stories have already proven that. Tom was speaking as a whole, and your reply is something a Judge did earlier this month? Um... piracy has been around for a lot longer than a month. I'd like to see some statistics on the amount of people that are pirating content using unsuspecting peoples' Wi-Fi connections. Until then, don't assume it's a big number.

Jurassic4096 said:

darkshadoe said:

TomSEA said:

Once more for the hard of hearing. Don't steal and you won't get a letter from the US Copyright Group.

"Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985), was a United States Supreme Court case that discussed whether copies of copyrighted works could be regarded as stolen property for the purposes of a law which criminalized the interstate transportation of property that had been "stolen, converted or taken by fraud" and holding that they could not be so regarded under that law."

[link]

Secondly Tom, Do you have a wireless Router and can I piggy back off it? There is this movie I'm just wanting to see...

LOL@1985 case reference. You and Matt are fishing pretty hard to prove a few cases of it happening. No one is saying it never happened, but come on... really? Using your logic, i should just pirate movies instead of paying for them because i could get arrested/fined whether i do or not. After that i'll steal a car, because even if i don't, i could still be arrested for it.

DokkRokken said:

Princeton said:

"The case is currently being overseen by Judge Beryl Howell, a former RIAA lobbyist and Managing Director of a so-called pirate-chasing outfit."

Uh conflict of interest? Only in America.

Yeah, that is messed up. It's one thing to have a judge who 'knows' the ins-and-outs of a certain legal area so they can render an informed judgement. But this is sheer lunacy, and the media should be howling over this.

ramonsterns said:

jurassic4096 said:

Just because it's done over the internet, doesn't mean you can't prove who committed the offence.

You do realize how silly that is, right?

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

"Seriously - how many of you have "a visitor with her laptop" sitting in your house illegally downloading movies?"

Let me ask you this, considering how many reports there are of crimes against teenagers involving some type of internet activity, How many parents ACTIVELY watch what their kids do on the internet, downloading included?

"How many are stupid enough to have an unsecured wireless network so someone sitting in a car could illegally download movies using their network? And who would sit in a car and do that anyway? If they're going to hook up to an unsecured wireless network, it's to steal credit card info, not download movies."

Ever heard of Piggy Backing?

"Wardrivers are only out to log and collect information about the wireless access points (WAPs) they find while driving, without using the networks' services.

Connecting to the network and using its services without explicit authorization is referred to as piggybacking."

- per Wikipedia

Then there are people who sit in shops supplying WI-Fi for hours. They could be downloading anything including as you mentioned credit card info. You wouldn't know unless you were actually seeing what they are doing.

" There's not a subscriber I know of that doesn't know what their Internet connection is being used for."

Well maybe your friends are more informed than most people. Sitting here typing this I checked my Windows 7 Wireless connections and found 2 unsecured neighbors. Not a hard thing to do at all.

"And I have plenty of friends who engage in illegal downloads for which they get mass grief from me."

It doesn't sound like your grief is getting you anywhere with them because it sounds like they are still doing it. Sometimes you have to enforce "tough love" and let them get caught.

"I would hazard to guess, that out out of the 24,583 IP addresses reference in th is article, 24,582 of them knew exactly what they were doing."

Then you would be wrong. I think Red1776 mentioned this being like traffic cameras. Most of those laws are written that even if you were not the driver, you allowed your property to to break the law. Well.. if your car was in your locked garage with the doors locked as well, and it was still stolen and the thief ran a red light, should you still be responsible for the ticket? The same thing can be said about someone piggy backing your WI-FI. You may have the best protection and someone crack the encryption and steal your signal. If they steal credit card info or download copyrighted material, are you going to man up and pay?

NeoFryBoy said:

Make a counter-settlement for 20 bucks.

Guest said:

Tom what if some hacker group decides to make an example of you and your "holier than thou" attitude? You use the internet - I wouldn't be so cocky to presume you are completely immune. Sony for example had a LOT more resources but it only takes an oversight here or there and you might as well hand them the keys.

And then the MPAA or RIAA turns up for stuff you (well your IP address) "downloaded". What would your attitude be then? You'll just fob this off as "not going to happen" but many here believe in innocent until proven guilty. An IP address is NOT proof of guilt. You have no idea who's computer or who was even using it at the time.

Guest said:

"How many are stupid enough to have an unsecured wireless network so someone sitting in a car could illegally download movies using their network? And who would sit in a car and do that anyway? If they're going to hook up to an unsecured wireless network, it's to steal credit card info, not download movies."

You know WEP is insecure? You know WPA data can be at the very least be cracked in one direction? You know about rainbow table attacks? Wireless has some issues in that you probably don't even know someone is trying to access it. And a password and encryption is no stone clad guarantee.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

jurassic4096 said:

darkshadoe said:

TomSEA said:

Once more for the hard of hearing. Don't steal and you won't get a letter from the US Copyright Group.

"Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985), was a United States Supreme Court case that discussed whether copies of copyrighted works could be regarded as stolen property for the purposes of a law which criminalized the interstate transportation of property that had been "stolen, converted or taken by fraud" and holding that they could not be so regarded under that law."

[link]

Secondly Tom, Do you have a wireless Router and can I piggy back off it? There is this movie I'm just wanting to see...

LOL@1985 case reference. You and Matt are fishing pretty hard to prove a few cases of it happening. No one is saying it never happened, but come on... really? Using your logic, i should just pirate movies instead of paying for them because i could get arrested/fined whether i do or not. After that i'll steal a car, because even if i don't, i could still be arrested for it.

This only thing I was trying to "prove" was the fact that downloading copyrighted material is Copyright Infringement, not stealing. There is a difference whether people want to think so or not. This is a civil case, not criminal.

"No one is saying it never happened, but come on... really?"

Ever been accused of something you didn't do? I'm sure you just didn't roll over and take the punishment, right? I Imagine the majority of these downloaders DID download the movie, but not all of them did.

btw.. do you have a wireless connection I could piggy back from?

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

That's why civil cases look for a preponderance of evidence rather than reasonable doubt.

Is there reasonable doubt that someone could have been stealing your Wi Fi? Of course.

It is likely? Of course not.

I have to agree with Tom, I would guess that 99% of the people accused of downloading the movie did so.

I think that the legal tactics used by these law firms are despicable, but chances are these people did exactly what they're being accused of.

Everyone likes to pull out their one exception to the rule when it comes to these stories, and cite the "friend of a friend" who didn't drink anything but somehow was convicted of a DUI. But for every exception to the rule, there are 9 other people who did drive drunk. Same with this.

Sure, individually speaking, every one of them can use the hijacked wifi defense. But statistically speaking, the odds of all these people having their wifi hijacked are minimal. Some percentage of these people had to download the movie.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Sure, individually speaking, every one of them can use the hijacked wifi defense. But statistically speaking, the odds of all these people having their wifi hijacked are minimal. Some percentage of these people had to download the movie.
Well, I don't have WiFi to blame. Just old fashioned wired DSL.. To the upside, this movie just looked too depressing to bother with. So, this is how you turn a lose, lose, into an accidental win, win.

Didn't give a rat's patootie about "The Expendables" either. I guess I just don't know how to have fun.

Guest said:

so do i gotta throw out all my dl movies? but they are for evulation purposes

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

so do i gotta throw out all my dl movies? but they are for evulation purposes
Wouldn't that be like locking the barn after the horse was stolen?

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Here in the trailor park I just moved into there are a few unsecured wireless networks floating around. I just connect to whichever one I prefer for the day, or whichever has the strongest signal and just start downloading all the CP and pirating as many movies as I can. ......Okay, for those of you who knew what I mean by that two letter acronym, it's an extreme exageration... however I still download movies... and will do so only more often on other people's wireless networks.

Common, you cant say there arent 1 out of every 5 people using someone else's connetion at some point to download something.

Cota Cota said:

captaincranky said:

so do i gotta throw out all my dl movies? but they are for evulation purposes
Wouldn't that be like locking the barn after the horse was stolen?

But what if the horse was retarded? just like most of the movies now days.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

But what if the horse was retarded? just like most of the movies now days.
Well, since we're dealing with metaphor, I'd say, "if the horse was retarded, you shouldn't have had it in your barn in the first place".

Guest said:

I'm getting discussed by all the fear tactics our legal system tries to use to supposedly administer justice. especially when the US is suppose to have the most fair practiced legal system in the world.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I'm getting discussed by all the fear tactics our legal system tries to use to supposedly administer justice. especially when the US is suppose to have the most fair practiced legal system in the world.

I actually think you meant, "I'm getting >> disgusted<<". Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

darkshadoe said:

This only thing I was trying to "prove" was the fact that downloading copyrighted material is Copyright Infringement, not stealing. There is a difference whether people want to think so or not. This is a civil case, not criminal.

+1, I am so tired of seeing this every time a piracy debate comes up. Illegal downloading is not theft, but copyright infringement. As much as the music & movie industry loves labeling it as theft to scare people, they will likely never legally favor it. If they want to call it theft, prosecute it as such so we can put this extortion nonsense to rest and go to a criminal court.

treetops treetops said:

When I got caught by a photo radar camera they sent me a letter in the mail. I through it away. They have to serve me in person and verify my identity before I am accountable. Some people have purposely driven past these cameras wearing gorilla masks. They would go to court being the owner of the vehicle and say prove I was driving. They were found innocent. Because you are innocent until proven guilty.

I'm trailing off here, anyways unless you are dumb enough to fill out the form they send you in the mail or let yourself get served by a subpoena you wont ever have to go to court. The cut off date from the date of the infraction for speeding radar camera tickets is 3 months.

Furthermore they have no way to prove who downloaded the movie. Even though you do not currently have wifi cranky you could easily claim you had a wifi router at the time. But I have a feeling they would be making a mistake dragging you to court. The expendables looked like crap I never downloaded it. Hurt locker was actually a decent movie.

Guest said:

The bigger question is why do people feel justified in stealing movies or other digital content? I don't think they would walk into Best Buy, Target, Walmart, etc and just take a movie and walk out however if they can copy the movie by some means they think that's OK. Why not just rent the movie (RedBox $1, Netflix - part of subscription) or purchase it ($5 - $14). We are not talking about a lot of money to see the movie. It was a good movie (which I rented) and the makers deserve the money from it.

foreverzero89 said:

TomSEA said:

Once more for the hard of hearing. Don't steal and you won't get a letter from the US Copyright Group.

piracy is not theft.

gobbybobby said:

ownders of Public operated wifi spots such as Pubs, libarys and shopping centers would be in the heat if a member of the public pirated a movie if the law said it was the person who pays the Internet bills responcibility, a good thing. Private internet connections should be a different class, however MY Router is part of ''FON'' which allows subscribers to BT connect to the Internet on my Wifi connection.

All BT routers (the UKs largest ISP) Have FON enebled by default, making BT have the largest ''free Wifi network'' anywhere in the world, becuase you walk down a street, pull out my Smartphone OH look 6 BT homehubs all with FON I can get on the net free. Sweet. Oh look my Smart phone has 16Gig memory card, I will just download this movie while I sit on this bench and listen to music...

30 mins later (lets say its a BT fibre connection) I have pirated the movie using someone elses wifi network.

I DO NOT THINK BT USERS SHOULD TURN FON OFF.

You might say ''OMG thats stupid y don't users turn it off'' Well its a MASSIVE Free WIFI network any BT user can use. making any built up area have a wifi connection thanks to British Telecommunications.

SCJake said:

i agree with you, most are stealing, but you apparently have never dabbled into wireless security. you would be surprised how easy it is to hack any wireless internet with the right programs (which i will not divulge for any of you hackers out there). certain free programs can crack a 128bit, 32 character wpa2 key in under a minute. plus, as you are on this site you are forgetting on MAJOR thing.

the united states is getting dumber. ever see idiocracy? its a fact, not just a story. sorry, but if you go into the city, where (wild guess) 80% of the population is, 1 in 5 wireless networks are unsecured, so dont go saying that most people know what they are doing.

the fact is, unless comcast would break their own privacy agreement and go past your modem/router and actually pull your mac address, then trace it back to your pc, they can never prove it was you. even then, it could be someone else on the computer, so there is no real way to prove anything "beyond a reasonable doubt" as the courts must.

Guest said:

I actually have to disagree with you. WEP can be hacked within 2 min. WPA/WPA2 can be hacked as well. Not nearly as fast though. However, I know of plenty of people who hack neighbors wifi to do their downloading. In this day an age, you don't have to go far (if at all) to find an easy target to hack.

SCJake said:

this is why i would not be divulging the names of any of these programs

Guest said:

I live in an apartment complex. Needless to say there are a few open Wi-fi connection at any given time. A few locked but only using wep, and a few more with wpa2. Just how hard is it to hop onto a connection and with throttling remain unnoticed for quite some time, or even indefinitely.

You can see the implications. The US copy write group is more or less carpet bombing targets of opportunity.

The bottom line is the tactics they are using are unethical. An IP address is not a person. The person illegally downloading movies is not ethical, but it happens. People steal internet. It happens. People leave open Wi-Fi connections... IT HAPPENS !

Catch my drift?

Should these people lock down their connections? Absolutely, but they don't...

Guest said:

Exactly..Scare Tactics.

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