Thursday, January 13, 2011
Class Action Targets Law Firm Pursuing Thousands of Alleged Movie Pirates
10:03 AM 11/29/2010 by Eriq Gardner
Last year, the U.S. Copyright Group made waves by joining thousands of anonymous defendants together in a handful of lawsuits. Representing producers of such films as The Hurt Locker and Far Cry, the enterprising Washington-based law firm claimed the defendants were infringing its clients' copyrights on BitTorrent and sought to first identify the alleged pirates, and then to either extract settlements or pursue them in court further.
Now the legal campaign has triggered interesting side battles. Last week, a class action lawsuit was filed against the USCG (aka Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver).
The plaintiff, Dmitriy Shirokov, claims that he and 4,576 other individuals have been subject to "settlement fraud and extortion" on the part of the USCG.
According to the 96-page complaint filed in Massachusetts District Court, the defendant is routinely demanding $1,500 from each identified file-sharer, which increases to $2,500 if not settled promptly. The proposed class action asserts that these demands are made with "deceptive threats of impending (and even more expensive) litigation" despite USCG not having any genuine intention to pursue the thousands of claims further.
USCG tells us the claims are coming soon.
The proposed plaintiffs also allege there are flaws in the copyright
registration of Far Cry. Specifically, it's alleged that the registration was obtained under "false pretenses" and that the claims against the accused pirates came before the application of the copyright registration. The allegation, if valid, could impact the amount of damages that defendants have to pay producers down the line.
The class action is probably a long shot, but shows how the USCG is increasingly fighting more assertive defendants and an avalanche of paperwork.
Also last week, the USCG requested sanctions against a lawyer, Graham Syfert, who is selling form motions to quash to anybody accused of pirating Hurt Locker.
For $19.99, customers have access to a do-it-yourself legal defense, including paperwork and instructions. In papers to the court, the USCG claims these form motions are "frivolous" and "procedurally defective." Nevertheless, it is causing the USCG trouble. The firm claims to spend $5,000 for the
time and expense opposing each one.
Copyright Lawyers Sue Lawyer Who Helped Copyright Defendants
Andy Chalk | 26 Nov 2010 1:21 pm
10,243 BitTorrent Defendants Added This Week
By Rhett Pardon, XBIZ.com
Thu, Jan 13 2011 01:30pm PST
WASHINGTON — It's been a busy week for porn BitTorrent case filings.
Since Monday, 10,243 John Doe defendants have been fingered for using BitTorrent programs to download adult videos owned by Axel Braun Productions, Elegant Angel, West Coast Productions and Lightspeed Media Corp.
With the exception of Axel Braun Productions' suit, all of the other lawsuits don't specify movie titles but make available serial numbers associated with the movies. Axel Braun Productions is suing his defendants for poaching "Batman XXX: A Porn Parody."
Here's a breakdown of the suits: West Coast Productions has filed two suits, one with 5,829 defendants and another with 1,434; Elegant Angel filed suit against 156; Axel Braun Productions against 2,823; and Lightspeed Media has targeted one Doe.
Some of the suits recently dropped by U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey in W. Virginia have been reconstituted in nearby District of Columbia.
Elegant Angel, Axel Braun Productions and West Coast Productions all had suits in W. Virginia originally filed by Kenneth Ford of Adult
Copyright Co. Those suits are now handled by Ellis Bennett of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver in Leesburg, Va.
Lightspeed Media's suit was filed in Chicago by
attorney John Steele.