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The Courts Movies Piracy

P2P Litigation Crippled In DC District Court Ruling 114

Posted by timothy
from the civil-procedure dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a stunning defeat for the US Copyright Group, DC District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer is forcing copyright holders to sue only those over whom the DC court has personal jurisdiction. The USCG has sued in the DC court more than 4,500 people on behalf of a German producer that created the Far Cry movie. But the Judge is having none of that; in her ruling [Friday], Judge Collyer stated that only those who are in the DC court's jurisdiction can be sued — shrinking what could have been a windfall of defendant's cash to perhaps a mere trickle."
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P2P Litigation Crippled In DC District Court Ruling

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:31AM (#34290800)

    The USCG has sued over 4,500 people on behalf of a German producer that created the Far Cry movie in the DC court.

    I don't see how the judge can be impartial if he let them make the movie in his court.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ozbird (127571)
      DC District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer is a he?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RoboRay (735839)

      And why is the Coast Guard even involved in this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Mrs. White: He didn't seem to like me very much. He had threatened to kill me in public.
      Miss Scarlet: Why would he want to kill you in public?
      Wadsworth: I think she means he threatened, in public, to kill her.
      Miss Scarlet: Oh.

  • by cenobyte40k (831687) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:48AM (#34290856)
    Good the next step would be for the judge to follow the rule of law and force them to prove that the movie was downloaded, and that the person they are suing is the one that downloaded it. I have yet to see a court case where they proved that well enough for me to ever have said guilty.
    • by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:14AM (#34290950) Homepage Journal
      Civil, not criminal. Preponderance of evidence - IOW, "more likely than not" - is the standard.
      • I understand the standards of proof are lower in civil court, but even those standards are not being met in my opinion. Then again, I know about things like assuming a static IP address on a DHCP network, routers with a tendency to spontaneously reset to factory default that includes open Wifi, etc.

        It would be interesting to see what happens to a defendant who drives all over town, downloads 100 files from various open networks, walks into court, and says, "Before you get too excited about the plaintiff's

        • routers with a tendency to spontaneously reset to factory default that includes open Wifi

          Do you really think that's more likely than the defendant just stealing some music?

          It would be interesting to see what happens to a defendant

          Not really; he'd get reamed. Judges have nearly unlimited power within their own courtrooms. You'd find that the trial started turning against you, rapidly, if you pulled that kind of stunt.

          • Do you really think that's more likely than the defendant just stealing some music?

            Actually someone coming up and getting on your wifi and downloading music is much more likely than you breaking into a major label's office and making a copy of the source files for the song, deleting them behind you.

            Or perhaps you meant to say "More likely than the defendant just committing copyright infringement" Theft has a definition, it is not synonymous with copyright infringement.

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            Well, sure, it is more likely that the defendant has committed a copyright violation. Heck, it is more likely that the Judge, every juror, and all the lawyers have committed copyright violations also. Given that I have never met one single person over the age of 5, and very few over the age of 3 that have not committed copyright violation, the mere fact that this person exists means that there is a preponderance of evidence that the commented a copyright violation.

            That is the truth that neither side of
            • Well, sure, it is more likely that the defendant has committed a copyright violation.

              No, the point of the trial is to discover if it is more likely that the defendant has committed a copyright violation in this case and in this case only. It is completely irrelevant whether or not the defendant downloads a gig of torrents a day and has done so for the past year. In the instant case brought before the judge, the plaintiffs have to have the preponderance of the evidence that that one specific act occurred.

              I agree with your statement otherwise, I just wanted to clarify this point.

              • by Belial6 (794905)
                I would say that it is more than likely that the defendant has committed a copyright violation in this case. Why because when someone is prosecuted for something that is done by virtually every member of society, and the prosecution is just picking out one of those members to get money from, it is just as easy for them to pick one of the millions of people that actually did it than it is for them to fabricate false evidence against someone else for performing the common every day activity. It is easier to
        • I understand the standards of proof are lower in civil court, but even those standards are not being met in my opinion. Then again, I know about things like assuming a static IP address on a DHCP network, routers with a tendency to spontaneously reset to factory default that includes open Wifi, etc.

          It would be interesting to see what happens to a defendant who drives all over town, downloads 100 files from various open networks, walks into court, and says, "Before you get too excited about the plaintiff's evidence against me, I just downloaded 100 files from other people's networks all over town. How should THEIR cases be handled, and what makes you so sure that such actions are not a factor in THIS case?"

          I think it will be interesting when these little pricks decide to go after a software engineer or a network expert, and then try to pull that "Your Honor, it's a fact that the IP address uniquely identifies the individual infringer" horsehocky and get ripped to shreds. I'm sure that they've already picked up on more than a few such people and, assuming they have any kind of a vetting process at all, wisely chose to leave them alone. These cases are entirely substantiated by utter technological ignorance on

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cenobyte40k (831687)
        I understand that civil court does not have the same strict rules about how clear cut the case must be, but I have yet to see a case where the evidence didn't just show that it might be that IP, which might have been used by this address, which is primarily used by X person but likely many others and then is most cases fail to show me that the files in question where actually the data they say it was. (IE just because the file is called meninblack.mkv does not mean it's the movie Men in Black) I admit I am
        • If meninblack.mkv isn't the movie, then walk into court with your laptop, show them that the file is exactly the same size as the one in the suit, and play your home recording of ninjas. The courts do not care that the evidence does not meet forensic standard. It doesn't have to.
          • by hedwards (940851)
            Actually, that's not a bad idea. One of the problems previously was that they weren't downloading, they were just looking and submitting screenshots. If you did that you should be able to get that evidence tossed or at least greatly reduce the credibility of the "expert" witless that's using it as evidence.

            Just as long as your careful in how you do it to not run afoul of the rules of evidence when doing it. But demanding the witness explain how they know that the file is or isn't the one they saw is defi
        • by ngg (193578)
          IANAL and this is not legal advice

          I understand that civil court does not have the same strict rules about how clear cut the case must be, but...

          I hate to be an ass, but I don't think you do. Civil court is all about perponderance of evidence, not reasonable doubt. If I claim you infringed my copyright because I saw my copyrighted work being uploaded from your router's IP address, you saying, "But it could have been anyone!" doesn't cut it. If I provide evidence (no matter how superficial or circumstanti

          • IANAL and this is not legal advice

            I understand that civil court does not have the same strict rules about how clear cut the case must be, but...

            I hate to be an ass, but I don't think you do. Civil court is all about perponderance of evidence, not reasonable doubt. If I claim you infringed my copyright because I saw my copyrighted work being uploaded from your router's IP address, you saying, "But it could have been anyone!" doesn't cut it. If I provide evidence (no matter how superficial or circumstantial it might be) that tends to point to your guilt, and you provide nothing, then I win.

            Again, I agree with what you're saying, though I would like to just point out that the judge is free to disregard any evidence you put forth. There are still *some* standards after all of what is considered evidence and what is not, even in civil matters, so it's not quite "no matter how superficial or circumstantial it might be."

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Civil, not criminal. Preponderance of evidence - IOW, "more likely than not" - is the standard.

        The question is: why? They are accusing you of breaking the law. They are demanding a huge punishment: debt slavery for the rest of your life. Why is this treated similar to a contract dispute? Is there any reason to make this a "civil law" case besides the copyright lobby being able to blackmail you more efficiently?

        Oh well. I guess the "rule of law" is a quaint, antiquated notion. I kinda wish they stopped pret

        • Protip: If you want to avoid blackmail, avoiding doing overtly illegal things is probably a good place to start. Especially overtly illegal things that have enormous civil penalties.
          • by hedwards (940851)
            Indeed, but in this case it doesn't make much of a difference because the RIAA companies have been filing suits against people, even knowing them to not be the correct party and refusing to investigate cases where the screen name and IP address might belong to somebody else.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by VortexCortex (1117377)

            Protip: If you want to avoid blackmail, avoiding doing overtly illegal things is probably a good place to start. Especially overtly illegal things that have enormous civil penalties.

            Overtly illegal? Like operating a bit-torrent tracker, or downloading from peers connected to said trackers?

            MediaDefender mistakenly attacked Revision3's legitimate bit-torrent tracker [arstechnica.com].

            It's not "avoid doing overtly illegal things", but instead, "avoid using technology that big corporations don't like, and the courts and juries don't understand".

            You can use the defense: Guns aren't only used to kill people, just because I have a pistol doesn't mean I kill people; It's a much easier defense than: Torrents a

            • Education is the answer. I would like Judges and Jurors to have to take a quick quiz on the basic technology in use in these types of trials. Fail the test, you're not qualified to make a judgment.

              That's just moving the problem of ignorance to some other entity.
              Chances are the MAFIAA would end the author of the test.

              Seems to me the defense is responsible for educating the judge and jury during the trial.

          • by sjames (1099)

            We have repeatedly seen that your advice, while useful, is far from certain to keep you out of court.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        You can ask for a jury trial in a civil matter. I did exactly that versus EA.

    • by ep32g79 (538056)

      and force them to prove that the movie was downloaded,

      Well, according to the complaint filed by ACHTE/NEUNTE they allege that "...each Defendant, without the permission or consent of the Plaintiff, has used, and continues to use, an online media distribution system to distribute to the public, including by making available for distribution to others, the Copyrighted Motion Picture." [beckermanlegal.com]

      They are not simply complaining that people are downloading their material, but actively distributing it too.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        But the making available theory was set aside years ago as not representing infringement. They would have to prove that not only did the defendants make it available, but that somebody without the authority to download it did. Which they haven't been able to do as their investigators are authorized to download such materials in the process of investigating.

        Plus, there's the issue of jurisdiction and joining together John Does that aren't related in any meaningful way other than that they are alleged to h
    • Many people get confused on this issue. No one is getting sued for downloading anything. They are being sued for distribution, aka uploading the movie.

  • Far Cry? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Junta (36770) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:56AM (#34290896)

    If people stole and presumably watch the movie Far Cry, *they* should be suing the studio for emotional distress or something.

    *NO ONE* should be subjected to a Uwe Boll film.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      I actually watched that Far Cry movie on netflix cause it kept recommending it to me for months on end...

      1 fucking star.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by uweboll (1944342)
      What exactly don't you like about my films?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by stms (1132653)
      Stop Uwe Boll Now [petitiononline.com]. Don't wait until you or a loved one accidentally sees one of his movies.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by windcask (1795642)

        He already said that it's been too long since that petition has started, and he wouldn't stop even if they got the signatures now. The fact is, he's just not that popular.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uwe_boll#Petition_to_retire [wikipedia.org]

      • Stop Uwe Boll Now [petitiononline.com]. Don't wait until you or a loved one accidentally sees one of his movies.

        {sigh} too late. Is there an antidote?

        • by cp.tar (871488)

          Stop Uwe Boll Now [petitiononline.com]. Don't wait until you or a loved one accidentally sees one of his movies.

          {sigh} too late. Is there an antidote?

          Sure there is. The Church of Scientology has one very efficient method. I do not recall the exact number, but it has to do with the calibre of the firearm perused.

    • by dadioflex (854298)
      Love the game, liked the movie. It's a three star movie that's a homage to the game, at best. Great lead, small budget, action film. Hey, if people don't like it I understand, but it's no worse than a LOT of other dreck we never hear about. Uwe for Dancing With The Stars in 2012? Huh? Hey, you haters are the ones making him a personality. I'm just a couch potato. Also liked Bloodrayne. In the Name of the King was poor but I watched it through; they could have done so much more with that cast.
      There are FAR
      • by windcask (1795642)

        Yeah, I am a hater. That's why I own "House of the Dead," "Alone in the Dark," "Alone in the Dark 2," "Bloodrayne," "Bloodrayne 2," "In the Name of the King," "1968 Tunnel Rats," and "Rampage." I plan on buying "Darfur" and "Perfect Storm" as soon as their prices come down on Amazon.

        Just because you like a man's movies doesn't mean you can't make fun of him.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      If people stole and presumably watch the movie Far Cry, *they* should be suing the studio for emotional distress or something.

      Look, if you stab yourself with a meat cleaver, it's not the fault of whoever manufactured it. Or maybe it is, in the USA, since apparently spilling hot coffee on yourself is the fault of whoever brewed it...

      *NO ONE* should be subjected to a Uwe Boll film.

      Maybe you should replace the death penalty with having to watch Uwe Bolls filmography?

      • *NO ONE* should be subjected to a Uwe Boll film.

        Maybe you should replace the death penalty with having to watch Uwe Bolls filmography?

        Nope, that's unconstitutional. There are people that deserve to die... but forced exposure to a Uwe Bolls film is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      I'd actually recommend his take on Postal. As a film, I've seen far worse, and actually, it's a decent film. As long as you can stomach the things like Dave Foley completely nude, it works pretty well. Plus he spends quite a bit of time making fun of himself which is worth the price of admission.
    • If people stole and presumably watch the movie Far Cry, *they* should be suing the studio for emotional distress or something.

      *NO ONE* should be subjected to a Uwe Boll film.

      I watched "Bloodrayne" without checking any of the credits first, and as I watched it I remember thinking, "Gagh, this is almost worthy of Uwe Boll."

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      *NO ONE* should be subjected to a Uwe Boll film.

      Not even Uwe Boll himself? Whoever he is.

      (I should add : I don't recall ever seeing an Uwe Boll film and knowing it. So I'll have to find out who he is now.

      OK ; reading done. So he's a guy who turns video games into movies, then punches his critics in the face. Considering that only a deranged lunatic could have expected the movies to be anything other than a waste of money, brains and time, then I can't see what's to be objected to.

      Hmmm, I wonder if Ali would be up for a night of beer, nachos and Uwe Bo

  • by Wingsy (761354) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:12AM (#34290936)
    In the tradition of having at least 1 off-topic post in any discussion, let me ask a question here. If I set my torrent client's upload bandwidth to zero I find that I still get reasonable download speeds but I upload nothing. I know the torrent crowd would like to hang me for that but doesn't that offer me protection from copyright infringement lawsuits?
    • by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:17AM (#34290966) Homepage Journal
      You'll still be showing as "offering it for download", you just won't be actually allowing the download to take place.If you want to be truly safe, stick to Rapidshare and... the old way. The other thing. That Which We Do Not Mention. Because it's also download-only.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by windcask (1795642)

        Yeah, according to modern interpretations of copyright laws, even using a service like that is ruled as complicity in the commission of a crime or something to that effect. It's a shame that there's really no other good way to get Linux ISOs or other perfectly legal large files without having to live in fear of getting sued...

      • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @11:07AM (#34291482)
        The making available theory was set aside a few years back. In order for it to be infringement you not only have to make it available, but somebody has to actually download it. And not only that, the party filing the suit has to prove that somebody actually downloaded it without authorization.

        Meaning that whomever they've authorized to investigate can't download a copy and use that as evidence that the file was actually downloaded without authorization.
        • IA definitely NAL, YMMV. However, I answered as I did because he wanted to avoid the lawsuit, not just the fine. His policy probably would prevail in court, but it wouldn't be cheap.
        • Unless you are the original seeder, I don't see how that can be shown, since the pieces you upload to any individual will probably result in an unplayable file. Of course just having the file on your computer is violating copyright, so they don't really need too much proof.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you want to be truly safe, stick to Rapidshare and... the old way. The other thing. That Which We Do Not Mention. Because it's also download-only.

        +5 Informative: Usenet :)

      • by neminem (561346)
        I torrent things, and I feel pretty safe doing it: I just only use a small private tracker, the sort where copyright-sniffers wouldn't be given access even if they did know about it. Course, I had to be in the right place at the right time to get invited, myself, but still. Torrenting isn't inherently unsafe; just *public* torrenting.
        • I had to be in the right place at the right time to get invited

          Private trackers - really private trackers - have two problems. One is getting enough content; they only have stuff when someone goes out and gets it. The other is keeping enough active members. I know of a few private P2P networks that never had memberships over a few hundred that eventually died as the old members left and new ones didn't come in (because, in a desire for secrecy, it couldn't be advertised).

          • by neminem (561346)
            Well, the site I'm on, isn't *truly* private in the "you can't find it on google" sense - we're under no promise not to tell people what it's called, we're just under a promise not to actually invite anyone we don't trust. So there's never been a problem with activity. And there's never been a problem with content, at least not for what it focuses on (mostly newish movies and tv shows, though it does have some other stuff people feel like uploading). The neat thing is that there's an inherent incentive to u
            • Never having open signups is private enough. Still, it sounds like you've got a good thing going there. If you have books, my email's in my profile ;)
    • by p0p0 (1841106)
      I'm not sure how the monitoring of use or how the protocol works, but the fact that you are already connected to another peer and that they are uploading to you means they could probably get your IP from the list of leechers.
      • by Wingsy (761354)
        Yeah, I'm sure my IP is out there blinking like a neon sign, but don't they have to show that I was actually sending the stuff to someone?
        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          No, just that you were offering the files IIRC. It sounds like what you are looking is is a "Emule leecher mod" which doesn't show jack squat to anyone. Under sharing one just doesn't have anything, so as long as it is set to "nobody" on the shared files tab nobody is gonna see squat. So unless they are doing the sharing and writing down the ones who take the bait's IP (which I don't think you can get them for downloading, just uploading) then you'd be safe. Of course your speed won't be nearly as good as B
    • No. I once got a DMCA violation warning email from my ISP for downloading the complete Harry Potter series... which I hadn't downloaded. After a little digging I realized that I had connected to a torrent containing 1000+ books for less than 5 min the month before, and Potter was in it.

      The publisher hired someone to watchdog torrents and record IP addresses, then sent out warnings to the relevant ISP. No lawsuit was involved, but if there had been I'd be bankrupt from either an out-of-court settlement
  • Awww, extortion is sooo haaaard... poo poo pity. Better luck next time. Wah-waaaahhh, thanks for playing, buh-bye now!
    • by shentino (1139071)

      Extortion is effective if you can't prove they did it.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        There's plenty of evidence that the RIAA studios are engaged in extortion. I mean "pay us without our showing you the evidence or we file suit" is pretty much extortion by any reasonable definition assuming that they don't offer to show the evidence or provide it for review by the person's attorney.
  • Well ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by thomst (1640045) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:25AM (#34291008) Homepage

    ... looks like her verdict was a (ahem) far cry from what Uwe Boll was expecting.

  • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:48AM (#34291110) Homepage Journal
    Uh, you do know that a 12(b)(2) dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction is not a dismissal with prejudice or on the merits? They can simply refile this elsewhere, without the new judge being bound by this dismissal. 12(b)(2) motions are procedural, and don't reach the actual case.
    • by kennykb (547805) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @10:46AM (#34291368)

      Well, it's at least a start. Now instead of having one case against defendants across the whole US, the lawyers have to refile in all 92 district courts, multiplying their expenses considerably. (Particularly since a lawyer who files pro hac vice in many of the districts must retain local counsel.) Moreover, the defendants will be sued in their home districts. They don't need to retain counsel and appear in DC to contest their cases. (If a distant court finds a way to assert personal jurisdiction, you're well advised either to prosecute an interlocutory appeal or settle, because the expense of simply making all the required appearances in the distant state will be ruinous.)

      This was also a mandatory first move on the defendants' part. Once you've filed any paperwork with the court without contesting its jurisdiction, you've lost your chance. If you've been sued in the wrong place, you get only one short opportunity to tell that to the judge. After that, you're deemed to have acquiesced on the point. That's unbelievably harsh against pro se defendants, who may not have even been able to find a lawyer (especially since the notice served against them states that they need fo find one in the distant state) by the time they're required to file an answer, but it's the law.

      So it's not a major victory, but it would have gone considerably worse for the defendants had the judge asserted personal jurisdiction against them.

      • pro hac vice = as Wikipedia says, "for this occasion" - when a lawyer from outside of the area asked to be temporarily allowed to practice in the state for the purposes of that particular case

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Right, however it does greatly increase the cost of their extortion racket. As they then have to start filing in the numerous courts that actually have jurisdiction. And ultimately the attorneys who tried such a blatant abuse of the court ought to be disbarred. You can't just raft a huge number of people together into a single suit without having a plausible theory for their relationship together.
  • It was starting to look like the RIAA (I realize this isnt the RIAA, but I'm throwing them into the same category as the RIAA) was making more money off suing pirates than actually gross sales. What a hell of a business model.
  • The people who downloaded it should be suing her for allowing Uwe Boll to continue making movies.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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