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Movies Piracy The Courts Your Rights Online

The Hurt Locker Producers Sue First 5,000 File-Sharers 861

Posted by Soulskill
from the tilting-at-windmills dept.
Voltage Pictures, the production company behind 2008's Oscar-winning Iraq war film The Hurt Locker, today sued 5,000 people who illegally downloaded the movie over BitTorrent. Quoting CNET: "Attorneys for Voltage wrote in the complaint that unless the court stops the people who pirate The Hurt Locker then Voltage will suffer 'great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money.' Voltage has asked the court to prevent those who downloaded the movie without paying for it from downloading its movies ever again, and order them to destroy all copies of The Hurt Locker from their computers and any other electronic devices they may have transferred the film to. As for monetary damages, the movie's producers want those found to have pilfered the movie to pay actual or statutory damages and cover the costs that went into filing the suits." According to the complaint (PDF), the 5,000 infringers are known only by their IP addresses at this time.
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The Hurt Locker Producers Sue First 5,000 File-Sharers

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  • Re:Not this again... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alanonfire (1415379) on Friday May 28, 2010 @05:53PM (#32383594)
    redbox is good too, $1 per movie and they give you promo codes once in a while for free movies. Its not too bad.
  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday May 28, 2010 @05:56PM (#32383638)

    The issue is they can sue you and make sure it costs $10,000+ to even go to court then offer to settle for $1,000. This means even an innocent man will be forced to pay if he cannot spare $10,000.

    I suggest they sue for reasonable amounts and do it more often.

  • by Yo,dog! (1819436) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:10PM (#32383792)
    The plaintiff claims every downloader is also necessarily an uploader of the infringing copyrighted material. However, the fact that a downloader has the potential to be an uploader doesn't necessarily mean they actually uploaded any part of the Hurt Locker or any other "infringing copyrighted material". It's quite possible for a downloader to have a vast collection of files available for upload and that the vast majority of them available are not infringing and that no portion of the Hurt Locker was ever uploaded.
  • by twidarkling (1537077) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:14PM (#32383858)

    Punish the infringers, yes, but the punishment should fit the actual crime. In the Far Cry case, they're asking for $1,500 from each infringer to settle out of court. That's with no hearings, nothing. Just "pay us $1,500 and we'll drop it." That's extortion, since it'd cost well over that to fight it.

    So, we have a case where they're charging people with infringement, without having compelling evidence (simply obtaining an IP doesn't even come close), and setting the bar far in excess of actual damages, but well below what would be incurred defending oneself.

    And yes, I said the Far Cry case, but it's being handled the exact same way as this one, since it's by the same law firm.

  • Re:first (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:20PM (#32383924)

    I downloaded this movie within an hour after the release hit the predb.
    Sadly they'll never know who I am so they can suck my cock.

  • Re:Not this again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bcat24 (914105) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:22PM (#32383942) Homepage Journal

    "Doing the right thing" and not stealing isn't moral relativism.

    And pirating movies isn't stealing. Stealing means I deprive someone else of their property. Copying said property is a different matter entirely.

  • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:23PM (#32383948) Homepage
    Remember that these civil lawsuits have a burden of proof called a "preponderance of the evidence", which means the jury needs a confidence level over 50% to go with the studio. That leaves significant room for doubt in the jurors' minds -- they just have think that there is more than a 50% probability he actually was the one who downloaded the movie. Anyone really want to risk their financial future on those odds?
  • Re:Even better (Score:3, Informative)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:24PM (#32383966)

    Perhaps not unencrypted, but trivially broken formats.

  • Re:Even better (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:25PM (#32383980)

    The library carries HD movies in unencrypted formats now?

    No. I can only take you to the buffet. I can't make you fucking eat it.

  • by Xaositecte (897197) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:31PM (#32384054) Journal

    Eh, civil cases don't use the "beyond a reasonable doubt" requirement. The bar is a little lower, and besides, you'd still bankrupt yourself on lawyer fees fighting the good fight.

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:43PM (#32384196)

    >> These people are BREAKING THE LAW,
    > The rationalizations given will be ... Prove me wrong.

    You missed one:

    I don't agree with bad laws.

    Maybe the film industry needs to learn that you DON'T need copyright at ALL to make large amounts of money:

    Johanna Blakely: Lessons from fashion's free culture
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL2FOrx41N0 [youtube.com]

    --
    Dark Matter/Energy by another other name is still the Aether

  • by twidarkling (1537077) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:20PM (#32384612)

    Man, where do you burger flip? At my last minimum wage job, we got about $500 bi-weekly, after taxes, and a judgement like this would absolutely have ruined any one of my co-workers, since they had no opportunity to save with wages like that.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:26PM (#32384678)

    ...not so much that it would ruin someone's life.

    $1500 would sink a lot of families that are getting by but don't have significant savings. That $1500 would force them to miss a lot of bills which would cascade in fees and reduced credit rating which causes further expense for items like insurance with rates based on credit ratings. Once you get that far behind then you and your family are screwed.

    Before anyone pipes in with "they should not have done the crime then!", remember that this is the extortion payment to avoid the more expensive route of defending themselves in court, which would also ruin their lives.

  • Re:Not this again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:28PM (#32384708)

    Are you being intentionally ignorant?

    DRM hasn't ever made a difference in piracy, the only people that are ever impeded by it are the ones that actually legitimately purchased the product.

  • by Wildfire Darkstar (208356) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:36PM (#32384810)

    Technically speaking, downloading a copy of a movie you already own may be illegal, but it's extremely unlikely that anyone will sue you for it. If they could even track you down in the first place.

    But the issue here is that BitTorrent isn't a download tool: it's a peer-to-peer protocol. By default, while you're downloading any given file, you're also uploading it to others. And even if you have a legal copy of the work in question, you don't have the legal right to make it available to those who don't.

  • by crossmr (957846) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:37PM (#32384822) Journal

    You sound like you're astrotrufing for the plaintiff.
    for someone flipping burgers, that would be an incredible burden.
    Most North Americans do not save a lot of money. They live pay check to pay check, especially those at the lower end flipping burgers. I don't know many places that pay around $11-12/hour to flip burgers. Which is what you'd need to be paid to clear $1500/month (after you take out taxes and such)

    Unless the company can prove actual damage from their copy that they downloaded, this isn't remotely comparable to the punishment for any equivalent crime because one doesn't exist. If the company can prove that this person would have otherwise bought the product in the absence of the available free download, they should charge them the price of the game plus a nominal fee, on par with a parking violation. A speeding ticket would even be a greater crime in comparison as it is far more dangerous to society than some kid downloading a game at home for free.

  • by Wildfire Darkstar (208356) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:39PM (#32384842)

    BitTorrent is peer-to-peer. Unless you've run through some unusual hoops, by downloading something over BitTorrent, you're uploading it at the same time.

    If the suit was being filed against Usenet or IRC downloaders, then this would be a valid argument. As it is, the plaintiff is right about this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:39PM (#32384844)

    $1500 is a lot to pay for a movie you didn't even like. 99% of the stuff movies people pirate they wouldn't have paid for at full price, and 90% are not worth any price they would actually offer, and at least 50% weren't even worth watching for free.

    A person's entertainment budget is finite. They are going to spend what they can afford on entertainment. If they don't have enough, they can pirate some more. What does it matter how many movies someone watches, if they paid all they can afford already? if you can only afford to buy 10 movies, why does it matter if you watch 10 or 100?

  • by Wildfire Darkstar (208356) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:54PM (#32385004)

    If it were theft, every pirated copy of the movie would have to come at the expense of a copy that could otherwise have been legitimately purchased. If I break into a store and steal a DVD, that's theft. If I break into a store and meticulously copy the DVD, it's not. File sharing is closer to the latter case than the former (although without the whole trespassing/breaking and entering aspect).

    That's not to excuse piracy, mind you: copyright infringement is still illegal and (depending on your ethics) possibly immoral as well. But there's been a long-standing and deliberate effort among content producers to confuse copyright infringement with theft and it's not really hard to see why. Even if you feel that both crimes are inexcusable, theft is clearly the worse of the two. Plus, there are plenty of people out there who aren't familiar with the particulars of intellectual property laws who know about theft.

    In short, it's a PR move. And while I certainly don't begrudge producers the right to protect their property to the fullest extent of the law, I personally prefer to call a spade a spade.

  • Re:Not this again... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bjourne (1034822) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:00PM (#32385478) Homepage Journal
    Bullshit. The most commonly used DRM format is Adobe Flash players proprietary RTMP streaming format. It has not been cracked, so streams served in that format are not copied. You can rebuild the stream by screendumping each frame but it is to much work so no one bothers. Adobe's other stream format is using FLV files. That format is easily copyable (just download the file!), which is why a popular FLV stream is almost instantly copied to hundreds of sites on the internet when it becomes available. Never wondered why no one pirates ps3 games? etc. As long as the DRM is not broken, it does stop piracy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:06PM (#32385538)

    What burger joint have you worked at? Most people would be lucky making $7-10 an hour at a fast food place. You figure 37.5 hours x four weeks and your looking at a max of $1500 BEFORE taxes. I make just under $13 an hour (not fast food) and after taxes and health insurance I net $1400. Subtract rent ($350), car loan ($170), student loans ($200), cell bill ($80) utilities (~80 a month) which is $880 a month I have free $520.

    So, realistically thats three months of spare pay and thats not factoring in food, gas, or ANY other extraneous expense.

    Btw, that movie would have cost $20 to buy. How the fuck does that equal $1500?

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