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Piracy The Almighty Buck The Courts Your Rights Online

$1,500,000 Fine For Sharing 10 Movies On BitTorrent 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the equivalent-to-running-over-200-construction-workers dept.
another random user writes with news that a Virginia man, Kywan Fisher, has been ordered to pay $1,500,000 to porn-maker Flava Works for sharing ten of the company's films over BitTorrent. "The huge total was reached through penalties of $150,000 per movie, the maximum possible statutory damages under U.S. copyright law." The man did not make any defense in federal court to Flava Works' copyright infringement claims, so the judge handed down a default judgement. "In 2011 Fisher and several other defendants were sued by adult entertainment company Flava Works. The case in question differs from the so-called 'John Doe' lawsuits as the copyright holder had detailed information on the defendants who had paid accounts on the company’s movie portal. For Fisher the trouble started when instead of just viewing the films for personal entertainment, he allegedly went on to share copies on BitTorrent. These illicit copies were traced directly back to his account through a code embedded in the videos. ... The verdict will be welcomed by Flava and the many other copyright holders involved in BitTorrent lawsuits in the United States. DieTrollDie, a close follower and critic of these cases, points out that it will be widely cited in settlement letters to other defendants, but that the case itself is notably different. 'This was not the normal Copyright Troll case – there was some actual evidence beyond a public IP address. Not a smoking gun by far, but certainly enough to show a preponderance of evidence,' DTD writes.
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$1,500,000 Fine For Sharing 10 Movies On BitTorrent

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:53AM (#41851869)

    That REALLY sucks...

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:55AM (#41851877)
    After all, this will clearly be a deterrent. Or he clearly caused millions of dollars in damage while he was playing with himself. Or something like that. Logic is not actually relevant when it comes to copyrights.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:57AM (#41851897) Homepage

    Play the video on the screen and record it with your camcorder before you share it. The analog-HOLE will save you from detection.... Unless they do the punched hole technique that Hollywood does on some frames in a movie.... Then you are hosed....

    • by dywolf (2673597) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:34AM (#41852209)

      No, the real lesson is DONT PAY FOR PORN!

    • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:55AM (#41852455) Journal

      No good deed goes unpunished. Someone actually paid for some content, and this lawsuit is his reward. We ought to make this into a lesson for the copyright holders. Never buy content. Let them go out of business. They deserve to, for suing their own customers. But, there is another way.

      No one should ever give up their privacy to pay for a movie, whether or not it's porn. If Mr. Fisher had used a prepaid credit card with no or fake info, he would be safe from this nonsense. What should he do now? Maybe too late for this one, but he could "accidentally" lose his credit card, then claim thieves used it to buy the porn.

      Such privacy preserving payment methods aren't as convenient as they could be, but they do exist. From what I've read, you can buy a prepaid credit card with cash. You may have to give a name and address, because many merchants will use that information to verify that the card hasn't been stolen. But, the personal information does not have to be real. It only has to match with the name and address you use with the online merchant. Privacy advocates particularly recommend this Simon Card [simon.com]. Of course to preserve your privacy you shouldn't buy the prepaid card online, have to go to a store where you can buy it with cash.

  • Evidence. (Score:5, Funny)

    by slackware 3.6 (2524328) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:59AM (#41851909)
    So did the judge watch all of the evidence?
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      So did the judge watch all of the evidence?
      He sat through every filthy, disgusting minute of it...twice.
  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:00AM (#41851923)

    Speaking as someone who writes and self publishes books for a living (see sig), this is an insane judgement. $150,000 per movie? Ten movies?

    I don't know how this could possibly be considered fair. Even if the guy 100% did everything that he is accused of, what's the real cost of his actions? If each film is, say, $10, then this means he cost the porno company 15,000 sales, per movie.

    The problem is it just doesn't add up. Something free isn't the same value as something paid. I've given away approximately 20,000 books on Amazon, but I've sold about 1,000. I didn't lose 19,000 sales.

    Every retailer knows if you give away free samples or even free products you're encouraging people to come back. To buy your new offerings. People are creatures of habit and once we like something we want more of it. This massive giveaway probably did wonders for their signup rates.

    But I understand that putting *every* piece of your product online is bad, and making them permanently and easily available is damaging to sales especially in the short term.

    But that much damage? 1.5 million bucks total? This is ludicrous. It's insane. There are punishments for real, genuine crimes with real, lasting harm to a person that are less than that. How is he supposed to pay?

    So as a media producer, I think that bankrupting someone for sharing ten films online is completely immoral. It's just wrong.

    • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me@noSpAM.hotmail.com> on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:04AM (#41851949) Homepage Journal

      It might have helped had he bothered to defend himself, since he didn't the judge defaulted to the maximum penalty. This does seem to teach others not to purchase from this company but to get it elsewhere instead.

      • by bug1 (96678) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:40AM (#41852267)

        It might have helped had he bothered to defend himself, since he didn't the judge defaulted to the maximum penalty.

        Why should the judge conclude he deserves the maximum penalty, he only heard one side.

        Judges are suppsed to, you know, judge, not just assume the worst (or the best).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)
      If you're Sci-Fi you should look into Baen Publishing.
    • by ardiri (245358)

      Every retailer knows if you give away free samples or even free products you're encouraging people to come back. To buy your new offerings. People are creatures of habit and once we like something we want more of it. This massive giveaway probably did wonders for their signup rates.

      the guy shared movies from the same producer; how are there new offerings? :) unless they offer more than 10 movies.

    • by Quila (201335)

      Statutory damages are there when one copyrighted work is copied without permission, and the number of copies is either unknown or very high. They also work for free software authors, where the sale value is zero so there are no monetary damages. But a big company using the software without following the license can still be liable for big damages.

      However, the statutory maximum damages are rarely imposed. The only reason it happened here is because the defendant didn't show in court. He screwed himself.

      • Maybe he figures on going on a revenge shooting rampage and dying in a hail of bullets from the cops, ( since he recieved the financial death penalty and may not fancy being destitute for the rest of his life ).

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:33AM (#41852189) Journal

      Remember that these fines are statutory, and were originally designed for the counterfeiter who intended to generate illicit profit by unlawfully reproducing work. In order to set a standard which would deter such infringement, a large value was set. If you're making several thousand copies of phonorecords in your industrial park building, it's easy to see that you could be tuning a solid 6 figure (or higher) profit on the black market. If they catch you with 10,000 copies of movies or records, you might be looking at $100,000 in merchandise, $300,000 with triple damages. If you're burning through a couple million dollars in sales a year, that's not a big deal. You may have sold 300-500,000 copies, but they can only charge what they can prove - your 10,000 pieces. However, if we presume your total production is larger than your inventory, there must be a way to punish you without having to track down every single disc you sold. Hence the efficiency of $150k per recording.

      Is it insane in this case? Yes, it is. But it's the law, and the people who control the law (the ones who's deep pockets depend on the status quo) like it this way.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Is it insane in this case? Yes, it is. But it's the law

        No it's not. The constitution is the law, and the law clearly states that excessive fines shall not be imposed. Of course, the thugs in charge of enforcing and interpreting the law don't see it that way. But that doesn't change what the law actually is. It only means that our government operates extra-legally.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Remember, we are talking about porn. Doing immoral and wrong (at least, according to some people criteria) is their business. Anyway, is not just that. If for some chance something you buy ends shared in internet, and you risk getting a 1.5M lawsuit, then their message is stop buying, and they are doing retard too.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Speaking as someone who writes and self publishes books for a living [...] I've sold about 1,000

      That must be some pretty cheap internet connection you're using to tell us that.

    • But that much damage? 1.5 million bucks total? This is ludicrous. It's insane. There are punishments for real, genuine crimes with real, lasting harm to a person that are less than that. How is he supposed to pay?

      It's a deterrent. It's not supposed to be fair recompense for harm to the company. It's like those $1,000 fine for littering signs. Nearly no one ever gets ticketed for littering, so the fine has to be pretty high for anybody to care. If you had a small chance of getting hit with that fine, ins

      • It's a deterrent. It's not supposed to be fair recompense for harm to the company. It's like those $1,000 fine for littering signs. Nearly no one ever gets ticketed for littering, so the fine has to be pretty high for anybody to care. If you had a small chance of getting hit with that fine, instead of zero, which it usually is, you'd think twice about throwing garbage on the ground. Same deal here. He's not supposed to pay. He's supposed to not do this.

        I think it's having the opposite effect: complete and total loss of respect for copyright law. Well, at least for people who respected it to begin with.

  • by siddesu (698447) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:01AM (#41851929)
    What useful arts and sciences does it promote? And then, why isn't the penalty declared unconstitutional, it is obvious the penalty exceeds the harm done many times over.
  • by Novogrudok (2486718) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:02AM (#41851937)

    "[porn distributor] had detailed information on the defendants who had paid accounts on the company’s movie portal"

    Look, anybody who voluntarily surrenders *their own credit card details with their real name on it* to an internet porn distributor just asks for trouble.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jasper160 (2642717)
      He must be able to afford it if he had the time to watch and run out of free porn. I don't know, maybe the paid stuff has a better sound track.
      • He must be able to afford it if he had the time to watch and run out of free porn. I don't know, maybe the paid stuff has a better sound track.

        So... instead of the standard "bow-wiki-wiki-wow-wow," you get John Williams?

        Yea, I can see how someone might be willing to pay for that...

  • Spin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by biodata (1981610) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:02AM (#41851939)
    The quoted story sounds like it's full of spin. The way I read the story from the BBC was that there were several defendants, most got thrown out of court due to there being no actual evidence of guilt (IP addresses anyone?) and this guy was found against because he didn't bother turning up. Maybe I misread it though.
    • this guy was found against because he didn't bother turning up

      The videos were stamped with his account ID from the flava website where he initially downloaded the videos from.

      OK, it's not proof that he was the one that uploaded but it certainly stacks the evidence against him that he was involved in the process some how, even if it was unwillingly.

      Not turning up just gave Flava an easy home run, but it probably didn't change the result, although it might of affected the payout.

  • from TFA: >For Fisher the trouble started when instead of just viewing the films for personal entertainment, he allegedly went on to share copies on BitTorrent. what if my computer is stolen or simply hacked and then those films were putted on bittorrent from someone else? Do i have to be responsible of those movies even in those circumstances so, i don't own them but i'm responsible as if i was a co-author ?
    • by Quila (201335)

      if my computer is stolen or simply hacked and then those films were putted on bittorrent from someone else

      He might have tried that line had he bothered to show up to defend himself.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:13AM (#41852015)

    Shouldn't the award AT LEAST be limited to the highest conceivable profit those movies could have *possibly* made had they not sold a single one? There is NO WAY they would have made even a fraction of that had this guy COMPLETELY killed their business.

    • by dhermann (648219)
      If he had defended himself in court, he could have argued this, and he would have reduced his damages significantly. Unfortunately, he did not appear, and the default judgement (exactly what it sounds like) is $150,000 apiece. For most people, even a 90% reduction in this amount would mean bankruptcy, so I can understand the option.
  • by nukenerd (172703) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:13AM (#41852025)
    I have had a look myself and reckon you could find enough free porn to watch it for several hundred hours every day. A lot of it is 2 minute excerpts with links to try to get you to paying sites, but there is also plenty of 20-60 minute stuff with no strings attached.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      People pay for the higher quality stuff. Not higher quality as in HD resolution but higher quality as in more attractive stars doing hotter acts. If you've only seen free porn, you haven't seen the good stuff yet.

  • by molog (110171) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:20AM (#41852077) Homepage Journal

    He declares bankruptcy, and all his debts get wiped away. This could actually help his finances more than hurt them if he is like the typical American and has more debts than assets.

  • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:25AM (#41852125)

    So what Flava Works is saying here is that Kywan Fisher would have been better off had he never paid for his Flava Works pornography in the first place. After all, if he hadn't done the right thing and supported the studio, they never would have had his credit card details to begin with, unless his credit card info was stolen...

    To those of you who think purchasing Flava Works's "works" is a good idea, let this be a less to you and torrent their content. What if your computer get stolen and the thief takes your porn collection and posts it to bittorrent sites? What if you get a virus and your porn files leak? What if you share a Flava Works file accidentally? I realize that that's a little hard to do with bittorrent, but you get the idea.

  • Nobody would say "he shared data on http", so please stop confusing the BT protocol with BT trackers.

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