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Movies Piracy The Courts

New Revenue Model For Low Budget Films: Lawsuits 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the doubling-down dept.
conspirator23 writes "A 64-year-old retired English teacher is being sued by a copyright troll for illegal BitTorrent downloading of a motion picture. Perhaps it's not all that shocking in the current era. That is, until we learn that rather than protecting something like Game of Thrones, the plaintiff is accusing Emily Orlando of Estacada, Oregon of downloading Maximum Conviction, a direct-to-video action flick released earlier this year starring Steven Segal and ex-WWE wrestler Steve Austin. Voltage Pictures is demanding $7500 from Emily and 370 other defendants. If all the defendants were to pay the demands, Voltage would gross over $2.75 million, minus legal fees. Who needs Kickstarter?" As you might expect, Mrs. Orlando had never heard of BitTorrent before receiving the legal threat, and she lives in an area with dynamic IP assignments. This is the same company who has been going after file-sharers by the thousands since 2010.
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New Revenue Model For Low Budget Films: Lawsuits

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  • OK already (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:40PM (#43407109)

    EA is only the second worst company.

  • Hurt Locker? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:44PM (#43407133)
    Isn't this what the makers of The Hurt Locker tried to do? It was largely a critical success, but not a financial one.
    • Re:Hurt Locker? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:55PM (#43407225)

      This company (from TFA) *is* the maker of The Hurt Locker.

      • by Das Auge (597142)
        I stopped reading TFA years ago. I got tired of one site after another chopping up (maybe) one page worth of writing and spreading it across ad-filled pages.
        • by Guspaz (556486)

          OK, the company from TFS is the maker of The Hurt Locker. Their name, Voltage Pictures, is right in the summary, hence why Slashdot's "related articles" mentions their Hurtlocker lawsuits.

    • It was not a financial success because, interestingly, people in the US thought it was a commie propaganda movie, while people outside the US found it to be something for and about trigger-happy rednecks. The critics said "exactly" and declared it a masterpiece.

      • by andymadigan (792996) <amadigan@gOOOmail.com minus threevowels> on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @06:56PM (#43407629)
        I'm American and *I* thought it was something for and about trigger-happy rednecks.
      • English is not my first language, so can you please explain what the title "The Hurt Locker" actually means?

        BTW, I kinda liked the movie. Wasn't the best, but pretty entertaining.

        • by Kittenman (971447)

          English is not my first language, so can you please explain what the title "The Hurt Locker" actually means?

          BTW, I kinda liked the movie. Wasn't the best, but pretty entertaining.

          English is my first language (and my second - I emigrated from England to NZ) and I didn't know what 'The Hurt Locker' meant. I know now - 2 hours of my life and a DVD rental fee wasted. Now, 'Redacted' ... that was a good movie ....

      • Re:Hurt Locker? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TranquilVoid (2444228) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:11PM (#43408423)

        Odd, I'm Australian and found it to be more of a character study. It certainly didn't glorify war but also doesn't criticise the U.S. involvement. In fact I was left wondering how someone who chose to be with James Cameron could demonstrate such subtlety.

        Coincidentally a few weeks ago I read a review of it in a Balinese newspaper, I think for expats. The English, or translation, was quite rough, but they did indeed slam it as pro-American propaganda.

      • Re:Hurt Locker? (Score:4, Informative)

        by tehcyder (746570) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @06:05AM (#43410581) Journal

        It was not a financial success because, interestingly, people in the US thought it was a commie propaganda movie

        Nothing surprises me any longer about a country that could elect Ronald Regan and George W Bush as heads of State.

  • Anybody who would want to watch Maximum Conviction would be a prime candidate for copyright trolls.
  • Hmmm.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:46PM (#43407153) Journal

    Get a lawyer. Countersue for $100,000 for the complainant filing false affidavits with the court. When they try to toss out the claims, say you will settle for $10,000 plus legal fees, otherwise it's off to fucking court.

    • Get a lawyer. Countersue for $100,000 for the complainant filing false affidavits with the court. When they try to toss out the claims, say you will settle for $10,000 plus legal fees, otherwise it's off to fucking court.

      And then they countersue you for filing a false complaint for $100k in damages, which is significantly easier to over false. At best, the court throws out both your and their claims, but more likely, you're paying their attorney's fees for responding to your stupid countersuit.

      If someone is filing false affidavits, notify the court and let the DA get involved. Don't file a false damages claim in response.

  • So Simple... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet@[ ].net ['got' in gap]> on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:47PM (#43407159) Journal

    Convince a good lawyer to take this as a class action. Sue for court costs, his own legal fees and emotional damages. I can't imagine jury anywhere on the planet that wouldn't give the win to the little old lady. Use this as a model for said trolls and when it becomes clear that we are hoisting these parasites on their own petards, perhaps they'll go away!

    • by Kittenman (971447) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:51PM (#43407191)
      1: Hire a little old lady
      2: Get little old lady to do something illegal, causing lawsuit by other party
      3: Counter-sue, win damages awarded by sympathetic jury
      4: Profit!!

      or maybe the simpler version

      1: Become little old lady
      2: Profit!
      • by dissy (172727)

        by Kittenman (971447)

        or maybe the simpler version

        1: Become little old lady
        2: Profit!

        You have a strange definition of "simpler" my friend

        • by khallow (566160)
          It has less bullet points. Of course, it's simpler! What part of "2. ?" don't you get?
    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:53PM (#43407217)

      Convince a good lawyer to take this as a class action.

      Sorry. Class actions were deleted from your list of acceptable legal remediations by the US Supreme Court after determining that it gave individuals too much power over corporations. Please submit to binding arbitration instead, Citizen.

      Sue for court costs, his own legal fees and emotional damages.

      Emotional damages? "Your honor, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't work. The idea that someone could accuse me of downloading something on the internet was just so shocking. I couldn't even go out in public, out of fear others might view me as... as a (breaks down sobbing) downloader."

      I can't imagine jury anywhere on the planet that wouldn't give the win to the little old lady.

      Your imagination sucks [arstechnica.com].

      Use this as a model for said trolls and when it becomes clear that we are hoisting these parasites on their own petards, perhaps they'll go away!

      You there, troll! Go away. There. I've just rid the internet of one of its most hated archetypes. I'm gonna step out now for a bit of tea. I expect we'll see no more of those people now that the smack down has been given.

      • Please submit to binding arbitration instead, Citizen.

        I was under the impression that binding arbitration requirements could apply only as part of a preexisting contractual relationship between the parties. As I understand it, the recipients of these scattershot demand letters are receiving them precisely because they have no contract with the copyright owner.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Yes, emotional distress. These people she's never heard of who made a movie she never heard of are demanding a significant chunk of her food and rent money (which they will, with little doubt spend on hookers and blow) claiming she used some computer program she's never heard of. The only way to avoid it is to risk even more of her very limited food and rent money on a spin of the big wheel in court. If she loses, she'll be eating fried dog food.

        You don't think that might be a little distressing?

        • You don't think that might be a little distressing?

          The law doesn't award emotional damages on the basis of a person's fears about the legal process. They award it based on the damage to reputation, etc., as a result of the false accusation. So all that worry over what will happen? It's worth zero dollars.

          • by sjames (1099)

            It doesn't award for distress over a legitimate legal process. In this case, it looks like the legal process is simply a threat used for extortion rather than any legitimate attempt to address a harm done to them. It could matter.

    • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:55PM (#43407227) Journal

      A good lawyer [imgur.com]??

  • Once and for all that says IP addresses cannot be used to identify users for anything without other corroborating evidence I.E. network traffic and such, which would require the cooperation of the ISP and, ostensibly, a warrant. Of course, lobbyists would need to be shot first.
    • Oooo! Oooo! Me... I'll shoot a lobbyist! We should declare a season... find someone who'll stuff and mount them for our living rooms!!! Why yes, I bagged this fine specimen wandering the hall right around Speaker Boehner's office. He tried to scrabble down a stairway and boom! Funny thing is he's lobbying for the NRA!

      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        Oooo! Oooo! Me... I'll shoot a lobbyist! We should declare a season... find someone who'll stuff and mount them for our living rooms!!! Why yes, I bagged this fine specimen wandering the hall right around Speaker Boehner's office. He tried to scrabble down a stairway and boom! Funny thing is he's lobbying for the NRA!

        I see two problems with this.

        Finding a taxidermist willing to deal with hazerdous materials. Lobbyists are full of bullshit. Inflicting that on a poor taxidermist could be considered cruel and unusual.

        Once you clean all the bullshit out of a lobbyist, the available material to work with is measured in milligrams. Be a damned small trophy to mount...

  • Isn't he known for Uner Sige 2?
    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      He's like Jean Claude Van Damme with a shittier name.
    • Was that the movie where the bay watch actress pops out of the giant cake and shows off her boobs?

  • by Taelron (1046946) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:50PM (#43407185)
    Like with most direct to video releases, the quality is so bad, shouldnt they be paying the people that actually sat and watched it?
  • by SendBot (29932) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:56PM (#43407229) Homepage Journal

    Defendant: "Please Mr. Segal, we don't want any trouble..."

    Segal: "Well you better save your receipt. Because you just bought some."

    (neck snapping ensues)

    Mad tv reference: http://youtu.be/mXx3_ykUpfY [youtu.be]

    • by sjames (1099)

      That's the great irony. His characters would be more likely to be busting the heads of scheming lawyers and business types trying to steal little old ladies retirement money to spend on hookers and blow.

      • Funny how a lot of people here are blaming somebody who's input into the movie and what happens with it ended some years ago.
        • by sjames (1099)

          Personally, I take it to be much more telling of the actual buy-in from the executives. Namely, they don't give a crap and they don't believe a single value the movies may portray.

          I do hope that this suitably informs Mr. Segal's future decisions.

  • by ISoldat53 (977164)
    Sounds like TI in the 80s.
  • I am going to refrain from comment.

  • While the lawsuit is silly, there is zero evidence that this was their revenue plan.
  • Because no one is going to waste bandwidth downloading some direct-to-video turd on purpose, and it's hard to believe 371 downloaded it by accident while looking for something good.

    Either that or they were even cleverer than the article suggests and distributed malware that would download the movie.

  • Life immitates a Mr. Show sketch [youtube.com]? That's never a good sign, frankly.

  • You know, there are enough of us now. Perhaps its time we considered a little chlorine for the shallow end of the gene pool? Ask law graduates what they think of this case. If they say, this is a travesty against humanity, they get a pass. If instead they want to know how to get a job at this law firm, we send them to the Office of Soylent Green. Figure they'll do more good as a cheap protein source for the third world. There's a kind of poetic irony to eating those who would gladly eat their own. I wonder

  • Go after the company. Once anything costs this people anything they are going to stop it. They are only going to spend money when they can get more then 100% returns on the money spent.

    That is what they are doing with this lawsuits today. Both patents troll and copyright trolls alike.

  • downloaded it from Mega.co.nz instead of torrenting it.

    Downloading by itself only allows for very small damages so companies don't bother suing. It's the act of uploading that brings large damages... because they can claim you were distributing their copyrighted shit. And BT by its very nature means everyone downloading is also uploading.

  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @08:30PM (#43408217)
    1. Make a documentary about trolls suing people for downloading copyrighted material
    2. Release the copyrighted documentary on bittorrent
    3. File lawsuits against people who download it
    4. Profit!!!
  • by Marrow (195242) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:07PM (#43408397)

    If the ISP is wrongly identifying her MAC address as performing the download, then they are the ones who should get sued. I assume they are even using the MAC as ID.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      It being the ISP, I'd expect them to have a log of which IP was assigned to which physical connection. They know which cable runs where, and which equipment is assigned to each subscriber. And if that database has errors misidentifying a connection, that'd be easy to find out, and then to amend the court case as needed.

      While it's always argued here that IP doesn't identify a person, which I think is true, it does identify a connection - that's after all the whole purpose of an IP address. And for a typical

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        While it's always argued here that IP doesn't identify a person, which I think is true, it does identify a connection - that's after all the whole purpose of an IP address.

        Maybe. You're presuming that ISPs keep accurate information regarding DHCP leases. From the article it said that her ISP "distributes IP addresses among customers as they log on and that it can't track exactly who had what number when."

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          While it's always argued here that IP doesn't identify a person, which I think is true, it does identify a connection - that's after all the whole purpose of an IP address.

          Maybe. You're presuming that ISPs keep accurate information regarding DHCP leases. From the article it said that her ISP "distributes IP addresses among customers as they log on and that it can't track exactly who had what number when."

          If so, that sounds to me like a pretty strong "it wasn't me" kind of defence. Defendant also said not to know about bittorrent - haven't her computers been seized? Any bittorrent software and evidence of its use found? No? She didn't do it, case closed.

          Definitely makes this sound like one of the weaker cases.

    • The MAC may be the router and that may not help? any ways was it setup to defaults? did the ISP setup / give out the router? was it set to WEP??

      If the router was hacked in some way and it's a ISP router with ISP setting then the ISP needs to stand up and take the blame.

  • I fail to see how the concept of justice comes anywhere near making someone to pay $7,500 for "stealing" something worth $20 or so.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @11:24PM (#43409079)

    I was actually one of the first unlucky few who received notice from both my ISP and Voltage Pictures informing me that I was being sued for downloading "The Hurt Locker" via bittorrent. They sent me multiple demands of increasing value in-order to have my name removed from the suit.

    I talked to others who have also received similar demands, and we all took the same action, which was to ignore them. We decided that what they were doing was really nothing more than a scare-tactic, and later-on we read that the case as thrown out by a judge because the law-firm failed to submit a full listing of names by their given due-date. I have not heard anything from them since.

    Apparently, this is a common practice for Voltage Pictures (and similar companies) when their business begins to fail financially.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      I've seen this exact same business model before, but in regards to parking in the UK rather than movies.

      The way it works is:

      - You park on privately owned land.
      - The landowner contracts a third-party company to provide parking management.
      - The third-party company invents a spurious reason to ticket you. (eg. "You stayed over three hours in this car park!" when parking at to the cinema to see a film that is 3 hours 15 minutes long).
      - The third-party company sends you a series o

      • by edawstwin (242027)

        The third-party company invents a spurious reason to ticket you. (eg. "You stayed over three hours in this car park!" when parking at to the cinema to see a film that is 3 hours 15 minutes long).

        I don't think you know what "spurious" means. If you pay for three hours and stay 3:15, that's a legitimate overage. The amount "ticketed" may be excessive, but if you only are supposed to get three hours, pay more or leave before your time is up. Also, can private companies issue a ticket in the UK, or are you saying they just request that you pay more with a piece of paper?

        • by jimicus (737525)

          > I don't think you know what "spurious" means. If you pay for three hours and stay 3:15, that's a legitimate overage.

          If it's a free car park and it is there for the benefit of cinemagoers, yes I'd say a 15 minute overstay when it's a particularly long film is spurious.

          > Also, can private companies issue a ticket in the UK, or are you saying they just request that you pay more with a piece of paper?

          Private companies cannot issue a fine.

          If they have suffered a loss for which you are responsible, they c

          • by edawstwin (242027)

            > I don't think you know what "spurious" means. If you pay for three hours and stay 3:15, that's a legitimate overage.

            If it's a free car park and it is there for the benefit of cinemagoers, yes I'd say a 15 minute overstay when it's a particularly long film is spurious.

            Spurious: Not being what it purports to be; false or fake: "spurious claims".

            There is nothing false about their claim that you overstayed the three hours. As I said above, 80 pounds is certainly an excessive charge for 15 minutes of parking, but it is in no way a spurious claim. If you had parked there for 2.5 hours and the company claimed you were there for 3.25, then that would be a spurious claim.

            To relate it to the main topic, $7500 is too much of a fine for the offense, but if the person did downlo

  • They are sending settlement demands for $7500? Odds are, you could hire one of the thousands of hungry lawyers out there to defend the entire case on a fixed fee for $7500 (or maybe $7499).

    The whole point of copyright trolling is to set the demand at just under what you think it will cost the defendant to hire a lawyer, say $3000, that way it is more cost-effective for them to just pay you.

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