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Piracy The Courts Your Rights Online News

US Copyright Group — Lawsuits, DDoS, and Bomb Threats 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-fire-with-bombs dept.
Andorin writes "The US law firm of Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver, otherwise known as the US Copyright Group, filed suit at the end of August against another 2,177 individuals for allegedly downloading and sharing the slasher film Cornered! (In total the USCG has now filed suit against over 16,200 individuals.) In retaliation, Operation Payback, the Anonymous-led project responsible for DDoSing websites of the RIAA and MPAA, targeted the US Copyright Group's website with a DDoS, temporarily bringing it down for a few hours. The group behind the attacks say they'll continue 'until they stop being angry.' Additionally, the local police department evacuated the office of Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver after a bomb threat was emailed to the firm. The building was searched, but no bomb was found."
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US Copyright Group — Lawsuits, DDoS, and Bomb Threats

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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @09:51AM (#33770102)
    I'm not justifying the actions of those who made the bomb threat or who are behind the DDoS attacks, but if US Copyright Group is going to act like a bully they are going to experience some backlash in a variety of forms. They think they can do as they wish just because they're lawyers, etc, but they're discovering that the public doesn't like a bully, plain and simple.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @09:54AM (#33770114)
      This reminds me of what happened to Darl McBride after the SCO suits started. It got so bad that he began carrying a handgun at all times.
    • I am... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:10AM (#33770208)

      When the government doesn't protect individuals, the companies harassing them are supposed to face public backslash proportional to the damage they cause. IE: When they harass thousands and ruin hundreds of lives for profit, they can and should be willing to expect pretty much anything. That's what happens when government doesn't do what it is supposed to: A small step towards anarchy.

      That all aside, I don't expect that Anonymous will ever do anything serious as they are mostly doing things for personal amusement.

    • by westlake (615356)

      I'm not justifying the actions of those who made the bomb threat or who are behind the DDoS attacks, but if US Copyright Group is going to act like a bully they are going to experience some backlash in a variety of forms. They think they can do as they wish just because they're lawyers, etc, but they're discovering that the public doesn't like a bully, plain and simple.

      I'd be very much surprised if a measurable fraction of "the public" has ever heard of the US Copyright Group -

      or the bomb threat.

      Google New

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      This sort of behavior is going to continue until the laws are changed. Unfortunately the public at large is still very unaware of copyright issues (If they were more aware of copyright issues, they might find themselves getting sued less.) Also, any candidate running on IP Reform issue will find his opponent to be extremely well funded by the entertainment industry. I doubt the Democrats or Republicans would take such a candidate either since they're both suckling at the teat of the entertainment industry
    • There is one form of backlash that is completely legal, and is beyond the reach of any copyright law, no matter how draconian. It's called, "Don't buy, don't steal." Consumers could quite literally bring these companies to their knees - legally. The only thing these little skirmishes are going to accomplish is justification for more laws, and even more excuses for government to continue expanding its encroachment into our daily lives.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:34AM (#33770362) Journal

      Nuh-uh.

      Pranks, yeah. Making their lives miserable through perfectly legal means, yeah, I can smile at it (e.g. when Mr. Ralsky got a taste of his own spammy medicine a few years back... those were good times).

      OTOH, breaking the law is only good for those willing to challenge an unjust law. Notice that the US Civil Rights Movement didn't resort to breaking other laws to make a point - they only broke the unjust ones. Most importantly, they were willing to take the punishment for it, in order to point out to the world at large just how unjust those laws were. That's the whole point of civil disobedience.

      While, yeah, I have zero love for a law firm that engages in the RIAA/MPAA's tactics, the best way to make one's point is to do so w/o breaking other, more important laws.

      What this would accomplish (at least if done large-scale or over time) is to provide fodder to make existing laws even more draconian, and to allow government(s) to step in and regulate the Internet even more, which none of us want.

      • The Civil Rights Movement did break some "just" rules however, like those limiting demonstrations to only "free speech zones" and/or off public streets.

    • by eexaa (1252378)

      ...BOOMMmmm

  • by symes (835608)
    I'm a little worried about the direction this is heading. I wouldn't be surprised if individuals who work for these firms will start to be publically identified and their private lives targetted. It is one thing to ddos, when when threats of violence are made the game is moving into a completely different ballpark. There are enough nutters out there and one of them could easily get worked up and do something daft.
    • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:16AM (#33770246)

      "I wouldn't be surprised if individuals who work for these firms will start to be publically identified and their private lives targetted."

      That's exactly what needs to happen, copyright and corporations have shown themselves to want nothing more then a monopoly, and turn customers and citizens of the world into serfs where the rent everything in perpetuity. WHere ownership rights on the customer end are being rescinded and quite frankly copyright will always be abused it goes against our rights to own what we purchase outright and modify it as we see fit.

      I will never understand why westerners are so supportive of corporatist removal of our rights to own outright and modify our stuff as customers and human beings. We've seen how free market ideology works in the real world where there are no scruples and money makes the rules and if you don't have money your voice doesn't matter. We're already in an era of corporate dictatorship of policy to such an insidious degree.

      Why exactly would you want more of it? Right now the economy, government and law is so twisted by the structures of power that be, we need constant resistance and less ideological infighting of right vs left, left and right simply doesn't matter, these are distractions from the main issues - the removal of our liberties and rights as human beings view the market mechanism. We're seeing how money and markets can be transform a society into a society of serfs, any system can be gamed, transformed and abused, how so many people can't see this is disturbing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by causality (777677)

        We're seeing how money and markets can be transform a society into a society of serfs, any system can be gamed, transformed and abused, how so many people can't see this is disturbing.

        How most people can't see this is quite a mystery unless you are willing to entertain the idea that people are not naturally this blind and must be trained to be this way [cantrip.org]. Then you realize this is the main reason for having a government-run public school system [johntaylorgatto.com]. The mystery then disappears but a sense of relief is not forth

        • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @11:51AM (#33770748) Homepage

          Then you realize this is the main reason for having a government-run public school system.

          Sometimes I wonder how this trash gets modded up. Pretty much all modern countries have public schools because otherwise kids wouldn't get any school at all. See the whole third world as an example, lack of education is a huge blocker for prosperity. The reason we have teacher's degrees and curriculum is because otherwise we'd have no quality control and no assurances that kids would get out of school knowing even the minimum about the world they ought to. Why is creationism so prevalent in the US as opposed to everywhere else? Because you can pull your kids out of school and teach them whatever you like. And not how reproduction works and what a condom is for. Can homeschooling or private schools be better than public schools? Yes. Can they be worse? Absolutely. At a minimum, you have to deal with a lot of other kids that aren't like you and don't think like you. By far the most narrow-minded and with the most twisted world views I've met have been American and home schooled. Granted, so have some of the brightest but it seems to bring out both kinds of extremes.

        • I actually spent some time reading your links. Then I talked to my wife (who is a school teacher) about it, and she simply replied that all of this is well known. She said the question isn't what is happening but how to deal with it. Children do need to learn something about conformity since that is going to be important to them as adults in society, unless you think we can have a world full of unibombers and be OK. There is value in questioning the system, hell I've been doing it my whole life and ne

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Majik Sheff (930627)

        I will never understand why westerners are so supportive of corporatist removal of our rights to own outright and modify our stuff as customers and human beings.

        You are confusing explicit support with apathy and ignorance. I know an argument could be made that they are equivalent, but the truth is the people who care AND are willing to act is such a small percentage that the organized actors (corporations and law firms) are the only ones who are effective at advancing their agenda.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So what. If you work for an a$$hole company, you need to be willing to live with the consequences.

      • by symes (835608)
        No - the surest way to change things is by making it politically expensive or in a way that undermines profits. One thing we can be absolutely certain of is that nation states are a whole load better at violence than people who sit at home and click buttons. It is simply not a fight that can be won and you will turn your cause into one of home grown terrorism. If you want to win this, label artists as pro- or anti-copyright and encourage consumers to support the latter. Skew the market.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You say it like it's a bad thing. It's the only way the lawyers will put any thought into what they're doing. Those folks(the lawyers in this case) are out to ruin lives. Those guys pay firms to DDos you, hack you, stalk you, put malware on your computer, and finally litigate you to death, just for uploading a few songs. Do you think the Jammie Thomas case, even the more lenient judgement, is justice?

      If anything, it sounds like Anonymous is trying to beat the thugs at their own game. Let's hope that th
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

      I wouldn't be surprised to see some congresscritter use this as an example to introduce legislation that makes all of our lives just a little bit worse, by regulating the unholy shit out of the Internet.

      • by cpghost (719344)

        I wouldn't be surprised to see some congresscritter use this as an example to introduce legislation that makes all of our lives just a little bit worse, by regulating the unholy shit out of the Internet.

        So what? Let'em try. "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Ultimately I agree with you. It's just a real shame that there hasn't been any voice of reason here to actually take a more appropriate action.

      But the way things have been going for a while, the likelihood of an insurrection has been increasing in recent years. While this isn't really that scale, if the authorities aren't mindful all the anger by various groups could very easily solidify into some form of rebellion.

      Ultimately, it would primarily be the fault of the politicians that stir up fear and an
      • Oh please. We're nowhere near an insurrection.

        Revolution only occurs when the vast majority of people have their lives destroyed by the government. As long as there is a large middle class, Revolution will never occur. People need to have nothing left to lose before they are willing to risk their lives. And seriously, if you're on slashdot, that means you almost certainly have a home, a job (or someone who pays your bills), a computer, electricity, food, shelter, etc... you have a lot to lose, and most

    • by arielCo (995647)

      +1, Interesting. But the purpose of a bomb threat is to disrupt, to nag them silly. Nutters get cues from everything and amplify them, so it's been too late since a noticeable number first chanted FUCK THE *AA.

      On the other hand, the ones calling the shots are surely responsible for the legal harassment and its financial/emotional/misc consequences, so why not give them a taste or two of that?

    • by horza (87255)

      Sure. Rather than just clicking a few mouse buttons, or VoIPing a prank call, one may suddenly heave his lard ass out of his swivel chair, pick up a baseball bat, drive all the way to a lawyers office, sneak past security, and batter one of them to death. I mean, it's a pretty thin line huh?

      Phillip.

      • by symes (835608)
        I was kind of thinking more along the lines of he pro-life people who do wander into clinics and shoot the place up, including the staff. But seeing as people who click computer buttons are all lard arses then I guess we're ok. The innocent guys who just want to earn a wage and have no interest policy are safe.
  • There's more to it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:03AM (#33770172)

    This only happened after Aiplex Software was contracted to DDoS attack file sharing web sites:

    http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/an-interview-with-anonymous/ [pandasecurity.com]

  • Anonymous surely need it's own symbol by now.

    It was bad of me, but I did chuckle when I heard of this.

  • You'd think it was a blockbuster release like LOTR or something.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1151911/ [imdb.com]

    Cornered, a 2-star rated slasher with a no name cast.

    Actually on second thought, they might be making more money on the settlements than on theater sales.

    • by chebucto (992517) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:32AM (#33770352) Homepage

      Recently a lawyer in the UK was also targeted by the 4chan group.

      What's notable is that he was in the same business as the law firm in this article - sending out compliance letters for alleged copyright infringement. As this article [arstechnica.com] notes, lately the UK lawyer had only been getting business from porn movie producers; all his mainstream clients had stopped hiring him because they no longer saw a net benefit in suing their fans.

      This might explain why the law firm was threatening people over a c-movie: the 'real' movie studios in the US might no longer want to work with people like them.

      The law firm he ended up with was ACS Law, run by middle-aged lawyer Andrew Crossley. ACS Law had, after a process of attrition, become one of the only UK firms to engage in such work. Unfortunately for Crossley, mainstream film studios had decided that suing file-sharers brought little apart from negative publicity, and so Crossley was left defending a heap of pornography, some video games, and a few musical tracks.

      • by horza (87255)

        ACS Law is also now subject to a £500,000 fine under the Data Protections Act as when they brought their site back online after a DDOS they also made a file with their victims' personal details readable which was subsequently downloaded by hackers.

        Phillip.

  • Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dyfet (154716) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:11AM (#33770216) Homepage

    When faced with a fundamentally unjust society people will increasingly turn to alternate means to redress legitimate grievances. This is why civil liberties matter and why due process, equal justice, proportionate punishment, and presumption of innocence rather than presumption of guilt are essential, and yet all of these core principles are under open attack in the United States today.

  • Vigilante justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by paiute (550198) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @10:19AM (#33770272)

    Sometimes a fed up community just goes extralegal:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_McElroy [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was an Uwe Boll boxset

  • The Hollywood Reporter on "Cornered!": "No, we've never heard of it either". [hollywoodreporter.com]

    That's bad. The Hollywood Reporter tracks almost everything Hollywood is doing, in more detail than you need unless you're in the industry. If their people haven't heard of it, it's unknown. There's one entry in THR's database: "MPAA ratings: Jan. 20, 2010", where The Hollywood Reporter listed the MPAA's rating decisions for the week. (It got an "R".) So the producers sent a copy in for rating and paid the fee.

    Some DVDs are

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