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Hurt Locker File-Sharing Subpoenas Begin 376

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-not-to-generate-good-press dept.
In May we discussed news that producers of the film The Hurt Locker filed a lawsuit against 5,000 John Does, known only by their IP addresses at the time, for sharing the movie over peer-to-peer sites. Now, reader suraj.sun notes that subpoenas for the lawsuit are finally going out. "Qwest Communications on Monday notified a customer in Denver that the Internet service provider has received a subpoena from lawyers representing Voltage Pictures, the production company that made The Hurt Locker. ... In legal documents, Voltage Pictures has blamed the movie's relatively poor domestic performance on illegal file sharing. As of March 21, the movie had grossed $16 million domestically, but took in $40 million overall. According to reports, the film's production budget was $15 million. The film leaked to the Web five months before the movie's US debut. ... For allegedly downloading The Hurt Locker, DGW told the Qwest customer from Denver that settling the case early would cost $2,900, according to documents reviewed by CNET."
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Hurt Locker File-Sharing Subpoenas Begin

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  • Great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rshxd (1875730) on Friday September 03, 2010 @08:56AM (#33464006)
    My Tor exit node is probably going to get DMCA takedown requests. I got one for "CSI: Miami Season 4" and CERT Malaysia said I was launching an attack against XXX.XXX.XXX but won't provide me an IP address or range to block. Silly DMCA folks!!!!
  • by kick6 (1081615) on Friday September 03, 2010 @08:58AM (#33464028) Homepage
    They assume that the movie would have been a much bigger success were it not for file sharing. Maybe the movie didn't succeed because it sucked. I certainly didn't go see it because nobody I know that did recommended it. It would appear that the new business plan is 1. make a shit movie cheaply 2. leak the film while sitting on it for no reason 3. blame filesharing for the fact that no one liked your shit movie 4. sue file sharers for what you think you should have made 5. profit!
  • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@ ... m minus math_god> on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:08AM (#33464134) Homepage Journal

    The Hurt Locker was an amazingly good movie.
    Intense, interesting.

    Well, this vet says it's crap.

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/02/23/when-cin-ma-v-rit-isn-t.html [newsweek.com]

    I'll go with the vet.

  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:30AM (#33464404)

    In addition to that, there is a recession. I haven't been to a movie in the theater in a long time because I simply do not have the money due to a new baby and a SAHM. Redbox's $1 rentals and Hulu's documentaries have filled the void. Why would I ever spend $20 (for two) to go to see a movie when I can spend $1 instead?

    Because it's easier to talk one of the baby's grandparents into babysitting while you take your wife on a "date" than it is if you're going home to watch a Redbox movie? At least, that's my answer.

    I'm crazy about our baby, but once in a while a couple hours together as adults without interruptions or baby care for dinner and a movie is really nice, too.

  • Re:Ugh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:43AM (#33464586) Homepage

    Well hopefully it will get broken up into separate actions. I mean, the alleged wrongdoing and the alleged proof may be similar, but the defenses will vary wildly from plain denial to family, tenants, guests, open wifi, trojans and so on. I don't see how one judge could possibly make the decision they're all guilty or not guilty, and so it doesn't fit as a class action the way I think of it. But I imagine for most it's about the fear and collecting settlements, if everyone simply said no and asked for their day in court this would stop. Even if you just showed up yourself and gave your layman "I have no idea what they're talking about" defense. If you just keep the spending at an absolute minimum and assume you'll lose, I doubt you'll be out more than $2500 anyway. The statutory minimum is $750, and if you don't piss off the judge or jury you'll likely to get that.

  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Steauengeglase (512315) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:44AM (#33464588)

    This seems like the most equitable form of extortion I've ever seen come out of the entertainment industry, so at least I'll have to give the producers credit for not being complete pie-in-the-sky assholes ("We lost potential billions for the rest of time!")

    I'd love to see this the other way around. Before a film begins shooting, I pay them $2, just me Joe-Blow consumer. I can pick whatever project I want to give cash to, though I have no input on the content. In exchange for the $2, I get a license. I can copy and past the movie wherever I want to after it goes through the initial theatrical release. I also get to keep the license for an indefinite period, as it is MY license for a movie I invested in with my money (the average consumer isn't going to throw it out on to torrents, because dammit, they already own a copy). If done right, you could create an environment where movies are pure profit.

  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xtracto (837672) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:45AM (#33464602) Journal

    They wont get 5000 trials... if you read the summary they are offering to settle for $2,900.

    Assuming that 80% of the people choose to "settle" soon... they will have gained $11,600,000 ... assuming EVERYBODY settle, they would have recouped more than the cost of the film.

    So I definitely think this is their new business model.

  • Re:Worst Part (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xtracto (837672) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:53AM (#33464690) Journal

    The worst part, in my opinion, is that this isn't even a good movie to pirate. I mean, it was okay to watch on Netflix, but there's no excuse for pirating such a mediocre film. Yea, it won an Oscar, but it was basically just Minesweeper: The Movie.

    If this had been over Inception or another really great film, I could understand better. This? Please.

    FTFM.

    Mhmmm... I saw [youtube.com] that trailer.

    Unfortunately as it is now common, after watching the Hurt Locker I realized the only good scenes were the ones in the trailer...

  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loafula (1080631) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:32AM (#33465164)
    I was Army and when I watched it, I couldn't get past the fact it took place in 2004 and not only was someone playing an Xbox 360 on a 32" LCD TV, they were playing Gears of War (released 2007). That and the fact everybody was wearing the ACUs (Army Combat Uniform-the grey pixelly one) and not the DCUs (Desert Combat Uniform), which were not all that common until 2005. Didn't notice the cereal though!
  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Haffner (1349071) on Friday September 03, 2010 @11:12AM (#33465650)
    There was some movie exec who talked about how the current model is unsustainable, mainly because it involves the film industry repeatedly lying to consumers by saying "This movie is gonna be good!" and having it be crap, and then doing it again and again and again. As a result, he said, people will stop trusting advertising and won't even go to see the good movies before they've been out for a while, which will kill sales. Honestly, I think the best thing for studies to do would be to have smaller budgets on films that don't need huge budgets, and if a film is going to suck, they should advertise it but portray it honestly (not "This movie sucks!" but more "Cheesy romantic comedy with subpar dialogue!").
  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Score Whore (32328) on Friday September 03, 2010 @11:40AM (#33466106)

    I disagree. The price is an unlimited distribution license of the movie, not a copy of the movie or a trip to the movie. The damages should be about $5,000,000 for that license. Oh wait, an Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed film? $25,000,000. So $2,900 doesn't seem too bad really.

    You know what you should do if you don't like copyright? You should create content and give it away for free and if you're right and copyright is a blight on society and only holds back the advancement of the arts and science, then you'll become very successful in your model. Then you might have a case for advocating for the elimination or major reform of existing copyright law. But as long as the people bitching about copyright are 99.99% non-creators, all anybody hears is "gimme gimme gimme... i want free shit..."

  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nabsltd (1313397) on Friday September 03, 2010 @11:58AM (#33466350)

    But to answer your ignorant rhetorical questions: yes, you can seek punitive damages against someone who causes your harm, in addition to actual damages.

    The difference is that copyright damage awards permitted by the law are not considered "punitive". In other words, they are not intended to be a punishment, but rather a recovery of either actual or reasonable theoretical losses.

    So, using high damages to "punish" file sharers is an incorrect application of the law.

  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by uniquename72 (1169497) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:40PM (#33466834)
    I happily obey a copyright term of 7 years in order to reward innovation, creativity, and production of things I enjoy. Anything older than that is fair game.
  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday September 03, 2010 @01:48PM (#33467996) Homepage Journal

    Sure piracy problem does take a chunk out of film profits

    I don't know of any studies about movie piracy, but studies I've read about concerning music piracy that weren't paid for by the major music labels show that music pirates spend more money on music than non-pirates.

    With books, it takes 2-3 weeks after a book hits the shelves for copies to show up on the internet. One publisher commissioned a study to see how badly the piracy impacted sales, and was astounded to find that after the initial sales spike when it went on sale, there was a second sales spike when the book hit the internet.

    From what I've seen, piracy only affects sales in a positive way. That's why Cory Doctorow posts his books [craphound.com] on his website for free download.

    There's a dangerous group of anti-copyright activists out there who pose a clear and present danger to the future of authors and publishing. They have no respect for property or laws. What's more, they're powerful and organized, and have the ears of lawmakers and the press.

    I'm speaking, of course, of the legal departments at ebook publishers.

    These people don't believe in copyright law. Copyright law says that when you buy a book, you own it. You can give it away, you can lend it, you can pass it on to your descendants or donate it to the local homeless shelter. Owning books has been around for longer than publishing books has. Copyright law has always recognized your right to own your books. When copyright laws are made -- by elected officials, acting for the public good -- they always safeguard this right.

    But ebook publishers don't respect copyright law, and they don't believe in your right to own property. Instead, they say that when you "buy" an ebook, you're really only licensing that book, and that copyright law is superseded by the thousands of farcical, abusive words in the license agreement you click through on the way to sealing the deal. (Of course, the button on their website says, "Buy this book" and they talk about "Ebook sales" at conferences -- no one says, "License this book for your Kindle" or "Total licenses of ebooks are up from 0.00001% of all publishing to 0.0001% of all publishing, a 100-fold increase!")

    I say to hell with them. You bought it, you own it. I believe in copyright law's guarantee of ownership in your books.

    So you own this ebook. The license agreement (see below), is from Creative Commons and it gives you even more rights than you get to a regular book. Every word of it is a gift, not a confiscation. Enjoy.

    What do I want from you in return? Read the book. Tell your friends. Review it on Amazon or at your local bookseller. Bring it to your bookclub. Assign it to your students (older students, please -- that sex scene is a scorcher) (now I've got your attention, don't I?). As Woody Guthrie wrote:

    "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

    Oh yeah. Also: if you like it, buy it or donate a copy to a worthy, cash-strapped institution.

    Why am I doing this? Because my problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity (thanks, @timoreilly for this awesome aphorism). Because free ebooks sell print books. Because I copied my ass off when I was 17 and grew up to spend practically every discretionary cent I have on books when I became an adult. Because I can't stop you from sharing it (zeroes and ones aren't ever going to get harder to copy); and because readers have shared the books they loved forever; so I might as well enlist you to the cause.

    I have always dreamt of writing sf novels, since I was six years old. Now I do it. It is a goddamned dream come true, like growing up to be a cowboy or an astronaut, except that you don't get oppressed by ranchers or

  • Re:Culprit ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kurokame (1764228) on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:04PM (#33469210)

    For that matter, the definition of bittorrent use as copyright infringement is a little contrived itself. Are you making a copy, or receiving one after consenting to have one be made? And is it really a copy at all? If I duplicate the data from the completed download on my own hard drive 100 times...how many copies do I really have? And why is it substantially different from loaning a DVD to your buddy, or showing it while you're throwing a party?

    The ethics are a bit ambiguous because we're a bit new to the potential scenarios enabled by modern technology. The law is likewise ambiguous (except where lobbying over the last ten years or so has changed it). The big IP owners (mostly not creators) have been taking advantage of this to set ethics through propaganda and to set law through lobbying and one-sided big corp vs. individual legal maneuvers. Well, I'm all for the right of someone who worked hard on a creative work to make a living off of it. But I only see one side here which is clearly behaving unethically. Downloading content you could have paid for is at least a bit grey...downloading content you couldn't have, probably less so, especially if you make a habit of purchasing your favorites once you have the opportunity. (This additionally makes the policy of rewarding good content and abstaining from rewarding the mediocre tripe which makes up the bulk of today's market...)

    Likewise, the only clear lawbreaking going on is in the sense that one side is exploiting it for things it was never intended to be used for. C'mon, mass lawsuits against more-or-less defenseless individuals whose only choice is how much of a mess you're going to make of their life and finances and for how long? That's really supposed to be within the scope of the law? Really? I grok the whole anti-download thing, even if I don't think it's practically going to work that way in the end. Models are going to have to change. You have to adapt when the fundamental situation has changed or you will eventually have to face the consequences. But it's really, really hard to empathize with people complaining about individuals doing something questionably ethical when the accuser is doing something wildly unethical, immoral, and abusive of the very legal system which they're using to prop up their extortionist policy.

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