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Piracy Movies The Courts Your Rights Online

Uwe Boll, Other Filmmakers Sue Thousands of Movie Pirates 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the part-two-the-revenge dept.
linzeal writes "Directors whose films have done poorly at the box office are increasingly being solicited by high-powered law firms to file lawsuits with offers of settlement. This practice, which the EFF has been calling extortive and 'mafia-like', has resulted in courts starting to rule in favor of the consumer, and in some cases throwing out the lawsuits. This is all fine and dandy, however, when you are considered the world's worst director and you largely finance films through your own holding company. At that point, the rhetoric and ridicule gets ratcheted up rather quickly."
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Uwe Boll, Other Filmmakers Sue Thousands of Movie Pirates

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:36PM (#32572126)

    None of these people are proven to be pirates. Uwe Boll claims they are. But that doesn't mean you get to report that they are. The headline should be "Uwe Boll, Other Flimmakers Sue Thousands of People".

    Slashdot could be sued for this headline.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:39PM (#32572182) Journal

    Sure fire 100% guaranteed way

    ...to not get sued for pirating movies.

    Don't pirate movies.

    Actually, you are wrong, I can sue you for just about anything I want, but that doesn't mean the courts are going to rule in my favour, or even have the lawsuit at all, they could just through it away, like they are doing now.

    But all in all, there is no way sure fire way to not get sued.

    I'll ignore the whole bit about pirating movies and why some people do it, that's a broken record that can be found on about 10% of slashdot articles.

  • err, no. dream on. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lead Butthead (321013) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:41PM (#32572210) Journal

    The more people get sued, the more ridiculous it will seem to the outside observer, and the more support there will be for copyright reform.

    Sorry, but your expectation rest on the assumption that politicians gives a flying f_ck, and that somehow common sense would prevail in a system where every politician is bought and paid for by special interest groups.

  • Not the case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:48PM (#32572286)

    There's multiple problems:

    1) The software they use to determine who is downloading a movie may not give accurate results. This was particularly true with Kazza Lite. You could ask it for a list of IPs of people on a share and it would return incorrect results. So, maybe your IP got reported incorrectly.

    2) Your ISP could give them incorrect information. Perhaps their logs of who had the IP at a given time were incorrect. Let's not pretend like software never fucks up. Perhaps they got tampered with (it is just text files after all). Maybe one of their admins was doing the downloading and falsified the logs to cover his tracks.

    3) Your net connection could have been used without your knowledge. Unless you are really serious about wireless security, someone could have used it. Many people run open APs or WEP and that can easily be bypassed. So it is perfectly possible for someone to have used your connection to download.

    That is one of the many problems with lawsuits like these. You really can't be sure that the people being sued are the people who did the downloading. So not doing it is NOT good enough to prevent you from getting sued. You could still find yourself hit with a lawsuit. You claim "But I didn't do it!" and they say "Ya right, pay us the extortion money or we take you to court."

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:50PM (#32572314) Journal

    Let's play "who's a bigger threat to society"

    On the one hand, we have internet pirates. They click buttons in the privacy of their own homes, and watch movies for free.

    On the other hand, we have you, who seems to think getting raped in the ass is a just consequence for copying bits.

    So, America. Who would you feel safer living next to?

  • by Spewns (1599743) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:52PM (#32572348)

    ...to not get sued for pirating movies.

    Don't pirate movies.

    Also a sure fire 100% guaranteed way to get modded into oblivion I'm sure, but whatever. I just have to ask though: Who the fuck is pirating a Uwe Boll movie? You deserve to get sued morons.

    Actually, you're going to (or should) get modded down because this is flamebait. "If you don't want to get sued for doing X, don't do X" is an extremely shallow, closed-minded and unintelligent oversimplification that assumes people should be able to be sued for doing X in the first place.

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:05PM (#32572464) Journal
    On the other hand, it's a valid point.

    The law is pretty clear on whether copyright violation is legal or not.

    Using the "I'm not likely to be one of the people they choose to pursue action against" strategy seems, as time goes on, to be a less-than-optimal one.

    But since we're commenting on flamebait mods... the whole article is flamebait for slashdot. The only reason this is newsworthy is because it includes Uwe Boll, make of some of the most nerd-despised movies on the planet. It's no longer news when a media rights holder pursues action against infringers -- the only reason this article made the main page is so we can flame (1) entities that pursue enforcement of their IP rights and (2) that director of tripe, Uwe Boll.

    Seriously, it's hard to complain about flamebait posts when that's the very nature of the article.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:09PM (#32572506) Homepage

    Are they seriously trying to convince me that someone would want to pirate Uwe Boll's movies?

    I sure as Hell wouldn't *PAY* for a copy...

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:12PM (#32572544) Homepage Journal
    Shouldn't Boll be PAYING people to download his films? What Ed Wood have done?
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:15PM (#32572580)

    Well yeah, but if it's illegal and you do it, you can be sued.

    Wrong.

    If it is illegal, you can be sued for doing it, whether or not you actually have done it.

    A major purpose of the trial -- which comes after you have been sued -- is to determine whether or not you did what you were sued for doing. If there was away to assure you were guilty before you were sued, we wouldn't need trials.

  • Re:LOL? Wut? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:15PM (#32572590) Journal

    Unless all of these people were a part of some vast conspiracy to download the same movie from the same source en mass, they can't be joined together in a single lawsuit. Explain how my post is wrong, based on the entry in the court docket and Procedure 20.

    What does people joining together as plaintiffs (Procedure 20) have to do with joining defendants together in court motions?

    Your supporting quote is not relevant, whether or not your point is correct.

  • by Andorin (1624303) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:24PM (#32572658)

    But since we're commenting on flamebait mods... the whole article is flamebait for slashdot. The only reason this is newsworthy is because it includes Uwe Boll, make of some of the most nerd-despised movies on the planet. It's no longer news when a media rights holder pursues action against infringers -- the only reason this article made the main page is so we can flame (1) entities that pursue enforcement of their IP rights and (2) that director of tripe, Uwe Boll.

    I disagree. I had never heard of Uwe Boll until he started his lawsuit campaign. The reason this issue gets under my skin is the egregious abuse of copyright and the court system, not because of the person doing it.

    Saying that "it's no longer news when a media rights holder pursues action against infringers" is dangerous- do you want such actions to become the accepted norm?

  • by Bysshe (1330263) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:26PM (#32572684)
    100% sure fire way of not getting sued for pirating movies...

    move to Canada. Or most European countries. or other places where corporations don't control the government nearly as much.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:33PM (#32572754) Journal

    Saying that "it's no longer news when a media rights holder pursues action against infringers" is dangerous- do you want such actions to become the accepted norm?

    It doesn't bother me one way or the other. I don't knowingly violate copyright. If copyright law gets changed, then my actions may change. Until then, I buy the media I choose to consume, and if I don't think the price is right -- I do without.

    The key reason the pursuit of action against violators is not newsworthy is that we know it happens frequently. This is nothing new. What would be more newsworthy are articles about how enforcement is changing, or articles about how the law itself is changing. Yet another copyright holder suing due to infringement just isn't news anymore.

    One other note:

    I disagree. I had never heard of Uwe Boll until he started his lawsuit campaign.

    You must be new here :) . Luckily for us, since Germany (and other countries) closed the tax loophole investors in his films were taking advantage of, he hasn't been getting a lot of work. The tax loophole is what made his bombs profitable despite their dismal ratings.

  • by kiwimate (458274) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:56PM (#32573014) Journal

    It doesn't bother me one way or the other. I don't knowingly violate copyright. If copyright law gets changed, then my actions may change. Until then, I buy the media I choose to consume, and if I don't think the price is right -- I do without.

    Wow, someone with a grown-up attitude on this topic, posting on /. Thank you.

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:59PM (#32573038) Homepage Journal

    I'll pirate one for $100! (No, Mr. Boll, you give $100, then I'll pirate it!)

  • by kiwimate (458274) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:01PM (#32573048) Journal

    Because they'd rather get involved in endless pedantic debates over the meaning of the word "theft" instead of just manning up and admitting they're choosing to do something illegal and immoral. (Sigh...and usually that will provoke a screamfest - "what's immoral is locking up work which wants to be free...", yabber, yabber, cliche, cliche - instead of an adult response. Can someone please tell me why two wrongs make a right in this case, apparently?)

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:05PM (#32573080) Homepage Journal

    There are plenty of people who are into light to severe masochism out there, easily in the thousands.

    I don't think it's masochism. Sometimes I just want to watch a laughably bad movie. I don't know why, I just do. When I was a kid, I used to love those Saturday afternoon kung fu movies on our local independent station. I didn't just go to see Battlefield Earth, I actually paid good money to see it in a theater. Not even as a matinee. To this day, I'll often watch whatever crapbomb is on Syfy on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. If you think Uwe Boll is bad, try watching Atomic Twister sometime.

    I dunno, it's just fun to sit there and watch a movie thinking, "Whoa, that's three miles past bad." It's also fun to talk about them with my friends. "Oh yeah? You thought that was bad? Let me tell you what I saw last Saturday!"

    By the way, I don't know why you lumped Mortal Kombat with those types of movies. Did it win an Oscar? Hell no, but it was still actually kind of neat and exciting to watch. It actually had some redeeming qualities to it. The fight scene with Subzero was awesome. I thought Linden Ashby's (Johnny Cage) fight with Goro was cool, too. The start of it was hilarious. Anyway, there's a difference between mindless fun action and just plain bad. It was Mortal Kombat. What exactly were you expecting?

  • by tsm_sf (545316) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:17PM (#32573198) Journal
    "I've got mine, screw you Jack" is a grown-up attitude?

    We need a culling program for sociopaths, and we need it now.
  • by Andorin (1624303) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:18PM (#32573206)

    Because they'd rather get involved in endless pedantic debates over the meaning of the word "theft" instead of just manning up and admitting they're choosing to do something illegal and immoral. (Sigh...and usually that will provoke a screamfest - "what's immoral is locking up work which wants to be free...", yabber, yabber, cliche, cliche - instead of an adult response. Can someone please tell me why two wrongs make a right in this case, apparently?)

    Illegal? Few people contest that copyright infringement is against the law. But immoral? Morality is subjective. Piracy isn't automatically immoral simply because you say it is, basing your assertion on your beliefs about copyright law. Simply because noncommercial copyright infringement is illegal does not automatically make it wrong, and if you believe otherwise, there is no way to have a rational argument with you.

    Before people choose sides in the War on Piracy, they ought to be required to have a basic understanding of copyright law. This lets them have at least a slight grasp on the issue instead of just mindlessly yammering about something they don't understand. And I would personally add that those evil pirates are much harder to demonize when you understand what a clusterfuck modern copyright law is and how it is abused by large corporations.

  • No worries here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:53PM (#32573464)

    I have abandoned movies and TV as a source of entertainment anyway. I have better things to do with 2 hours of my life. Besides, I sit in front of monitors all day, why would I want to sit in front of stupid programming with mandatory ads on another monitor anyway?

    I built a race car instead. Now I have no end of things to do with my time and money. Plus the fun of DIY engineering, and the reward of getting to race against others.

    So why again did I want to sit in front of a TV, or watch their ridiculous crap?

  • I am aware of that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:57PM (#32573492)

    And that is why it is such a problem. Given that they can show up with some pretty shoddy evidence and your only way to defend yourself is to mount a defense more expensive than paying their extortion fee, you more or less have to pay the fee even if you are innocent.

    The idea that you can be sued, successfully, for six figures for supposedly downloading a movie on very weak evidence is a problem. More or less there is no reason for them to try and make sure the suits are legit since people are forced to settle or have their lives ruined.

    If this was something like a civil traffic ticket, where you are being charged a hundred bucks and you can defend yourself without drastically increasing the amount, I'd be ok with it. You don't need a massive amount of evidence in that case. However here people are being sued for many orders of magnitude over the actual value of the product on weak evidence, and have to settle for thousands, even if they are innocent.

    You could literally shoplift the same movie, a crime which causes actual harm, and be given better representation and face far less sanctions if found guilty. A first offense shoplifting charge here for low values of merchandise will get you a fine of $250 plus the value of the merchandise and probation. That is for a crime where actual harm is caused (the store loses the value of the item you stole) not one with just theoretical harm (in a download, they theoretically lost a sale, but in many cases actually did not).

    Lower the fine to a level reasonable with the nature of the crime (victimless crimes like speeding or jaywalking) and allow people to defend themselves in a civil court like traffic court and I'm ok with it. Keep lawsuits in the 6 figure range, and I cannot support something on so flimsy an evidence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:33PM (#32573722)

    It also had Christopher Lambert.

    The guy is seriously underrated - check out Greystoke.

    Only Christopher Lambert had the skill to make ape noises in a believable and dramatic fashion.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:42PM (#32573788) Homepage

    That is what it really is all about. Making money out of the first few weeks of really bad movies. Churn out a crap movie and then spend more on advertising the movie than you spent making the movie, select the few isolated best scenes for the preview (even by accident these can occur), pay off the reviewers and generate a profit. No different to the model for the majority of the music industry.

    Streaming kills this revenue stream, everyone learns exactly how bad the movie is and are no longer sucked in by deceitful advertising and disingenuous reviews, so they don't spend their money on a ticket finding out the truly annoying way how much the quality of movies differed from the lies put forward by the advertising.

    So they sueing everyone the streamed the first 10 to 15 minutes and decided not to waste their time and money on a cinema ticket is the only way for them to generate a profit and continue in their degenerate couch castings ways (believe it or not BJ in limos and abusing teenagers with delusions of future movie stardom and major motivators in their business choice, more than the profit).

    So sick liars, doing sick things so that they can continue in their sick ways, now that's just plain sick. All brought to you by lawyers who created and exploit a corrupted legal system, that can specifically victimise the poor.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday June 14, 2010 @11:07PM (#32574302) Homepage

    The issue here is not about whether downloading movies should is illegal. The issue is that the plaintiffs cannot provide any tangible evidence that a movie was actually downloaded by the person they are accusing, because they have no control nor dominion over any of the computers and networks involved in the transaction.

    They get logs from an ISP which they do not own nor manage, produced by software written by a third party, yielding IP addresses allegedly caught transmitting "illegal bits".

    The whole enchilada is circumstantial evidence to the Nth degree because every step of the evidence collection is flagged with a "maybe". Maybe the ISP's logs were tampered (or redacted), maybe the software throws false positives (hint: it does), maybe you can't track an IP address to a specific person, maybe 20% of all computers are infected with malware that proxies these illegal bits via unsuspecting users, maybe those zeroes and ones actually make up a picture of my scrotum that just happens to look like Alone In The Dark 1 and 2.

    There is a very plain reason why the film companies settle with the defendants: they know full well that their court game is weak, and the threat of financial intimidation is far more chilling than a fair fight in front of a jury of "small people" who just might sympathize with the defendant. The MPAA knows this far too well, and are careful to steer clear of such risky assaults. After all, if they could prove your guilt without question, they wouldn't need a trial.

  • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:10AM (#32574662)

    I know this is blasphemy, but I really enjoyed House of the Dead. I got exactly what I wanted from that movie (killing zombies and not the emo-zobmies or Aesop zombies that George Romero's latest movies have been subjecting us to - diary of the dead and island of the dead come to mind.)

  • by Andorin (1624303) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:43AM (#32574782)

    I hear far too many cries and justifications for consuming without paying.

    I, on the other hand, hear far too many cries and justifications (from copyright holders) for being paid without repeatedly producing.

  • I think our copyright laws are ridiculous -- not in principle, in my case, but in terms of the punishments for violating them, and in the duration of the copyrights. I would like it very much if the laws changed to make them more reasonable. But I'm convinced that piracy on my part would contribute to making things worse for me, worse for you, worse for everyone.

    In a lot of cases, the only real way to get a law changed is to ignore it on a very wide scale. Even then it takes a lot of time, but it does work-right now, the marijuana laws are being changed, not on the principle that it's more against the public interest to outlaw marijuana than to legalize and regulate it (though a strong case may be made that this is true), but because it's impossible to realistically do so.

    I think the same may be true for copyright. Only the "industries" who produce imaginary property (commonly known as IP) can buy Congresspeople to pretend that shit they make up is not only real but is "property" of some kind. Copyright etc. was never intended as a property right, at least not in the US-the Constitution states not only that it may be taken away after a specified time period, but that it must be. Contrast that with its treatment of real property, where it may never be taken away without just compensation. Its purpose was also clearly specified-"To promote the progress of Science and the Useful Arts." Not to pay anyone, not to protect or establish a property right, not to advance anyone's private interest. Only to advance a public interest-promotion of science and art. If science and art would be best served with no copyright or patent law, this clause would not only allow but mandate that these laws be repealed at once.

    I'm not sure that's true. I'd support a genuinely limited time (no longer than 10 years), commercial-use-only copyright, in the interest of said promotion of science and art. On the other hand, suing people for making a remix of a song or movie scene does not advance science or art, it diminishes it. Copyright terms so long that they exceed a normal lifespan do not promote science and art, but diminish it. Ridiculous scope of patentability, from software to genes, does not advance science and art, it diminishes it.

    And at this point, no one's around to throw as many bribes, erm, excuse me, "free speech contributions" at reducing the excesses of these laws as at making them worse. The only real chance at reform is to make them untenable and unenforceable, and the only way I can see to do that is to ignore them. By all means, be smart about it-use a VPN, use encryption, use smaller trackers. But the only way I'll voluntarily comply with copyright law is when it comes within reason. I already do that where individuals choose to exercise reasonable terms-I'm happy to pay for music at Magnatune or donate to open source projects. For anything else, you betcha I'll download it, and not feel a single twinge of guilt. If you're going to attempt ridiculous terms and artificial scarcity, I don't feel in the slightest bad about subverting you. Quite, in fact, the opposite.

    And to answer an argument so common it's nearly inevitable anymore, such a universe may mean that some business models go obsolete. But if that's the case, they already are obsolete, and we're just propping them up with laws pretending they're not. C'est la vie, so to speak-business models go obsolete all the time. We shouldn't force everyone to pretend the world works in a way it no longer does to prop up an outdated model, we should find new ones that work with the new technology and reality. If that means the end of certain video games, or Hollywood movies, or what have you, well, somehow, the human race survived without those for some time. And it's not like our desire for such things will go away-someone will find a workable way to do them, whether that's raising funds in advance, doing them collaboratively, or what have you, and those who are aficionados will likely pay or participate. If not, they die out, and so their time came like so many things before them.

  • by Garwulf (708651) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:16AM (#32578740) Homepage

    You've hit on an important point, but at the same time, I am left wondering if you understand copyright law yourself. And if you think you do, where did you get that understanding from (that's a general question for everybody reading)? Did you read the Berne Convention, or have you had to work with it on a professional level? Or have you been reading RIAA news articles?

    And, for that matter, what branch of media are you dealing with? They're not all the same - the music industry is known for abusing creative artists and short circuiting the daylights out of the letter and spirit of copyright law. The book industry, on the other hand, is far better behaved.

    I'm a published and agented author, as well as the owner and operator of a publishing company. I've worked with big New York publishers, and I've worked with both new and experienced authors. In most of the discussions here, I see a lot of people making impassioned arguments about copyright that have little or no basis in reality. Sometimes they're actually talking about patent law (which, in the U.S., at least, is badly broken in a lot of ways), or trademark law. Sometimes they're attributing an abuse of the law - or even somebody breaking it - to the law itself. For that matter, copyright law is often made out to be far more powerful and totalitarian than it actually is.

    (Lawrence Lessig gets quoted a lot, and I really wish that his "Free Culture" book would just vanish. I've tried to read it at least three times, and every single time I've been stopped cold by massive leaps of logic that make little or no sense, and an apparent lack of understanding of the differences between derivative works and plagiarism. Copyright has complicated issues that are best understood for discussion, but I think his book is like trying to understand ancient culture by reading "Chariots of the Gods." And, as far as I can tell, he's the main source for most of the misunderstandings around the American CTEA, which had far more to do with what Europe was doing - and planning to do - than it did with Mickey Mouse.)

    Now, taking what isn't yours to take is wrong, no matter what form it takes. Free swag is nice, but it's a bonus, not a right, and certainly not an entitlement. If you're getting away with piracy, then you've got a bonus - but there's no way piracy of a movie, song, game, or book, puts you into the right. It's entertainment, not a cure for cancer. And piracy isn't a protest - writing letters, organizing sit-ins, THOSE are protests.

    So, you're right that for the most part pirates aren't evil (with some notable exceptions) - but they are freeloaders, and that's all they are...and it is important to understand that.

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