Downloading case to have 23,000 defendants

May 11, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog
Downloading case to have 23,000 defendants
Image credit: Chaaps

(PhysOrg.com) -- How many of you remember the film The Expendables? It was an action flick, featuring some of the biggest names in blowing things up, and soon it will be known as the film that has created the largest illegal-BitTorrent-downloading case in U.S. history.

A recently gave the U.S. Copyright Group the right to subpoena the records of Internet service providers in order to see who downloaded the movie illegally. So, while 23,000 is the current expected number of defendants that number may increase by leaps and bounds as more downloads are found.

When an ISP gets a subpoena they will generally tell the account holder that their subscriber information is being shared with the Copyright Group, pursuant to their investigations. So, if you are part of this suit, you will likely find out sooner rather than later. This is not the Copyright Groups only attempt to take legal action against bit torrents. One the whole, this group is taking legal action against roughly 140,000 BitTorrent downloaders, primarily for downloading B-movies and pornography.

Eventually, these kinds of suits will become a bigger than the sales themselves. Under the current U.S. damages of up to $150,000 per can be obtained. For a film that only grossed $103,068,524 domestic, if this level of damages were paid, the dollar figure would well out pace film sales.

With subpoenas are expected to go out this week, one has to wonder if this is not a good time to not only forget about the bit torrenting, but also about feature films altogether. After all, if these users had wanted the film that badly, they could have bought it for roughly $20 or rented it for $6, and none of them chose to do so. That may speak to the quality of the film, as much as the ethics of the fans.

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User comments : 28

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Recovering_Human
5 / 5 (15) May 11, 2011
Expecting $150,000 for downloading a movie that you could find on a $0.99 cent sale rack at Wal Mart. Yeah, this is going to end well.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (16) May 11, 2011
I think it's time to pursue the MPAA and the RIAA with usury lawsuits.
Doschx
4.9 / 5 (12) May 11, 2011
and if every one of the defendants said "no" and went to jail the legal system would collapse overnight
Doug_Huffman
5 / 5 (3) May 11, 2011
LOL US Copyright group is the first listed copyright-troll here.

https://www.eff.o...nloaders

https://www.eff.o...t-trolls
Cave_Man
5 / 5 (6) May 11, 2011
Seems like every day we take another stride toward totalitarian orwellian hell.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.8 / 5 (14) May 11, 2011
Americans are clearly wage slaves who have all of the freedom's that their corporate slave masters permit them to have.

America is a pathetic farce.
Noumenal
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2011
and if every one of the defendants said "no" and went to jail the legal system would collapse overnight


A whole new spin on the prisoner's dilemma, hilarious though, going to jail for something so worthless as 1 pound. And don't tell me it's for the principle of the thing, at most the principle of the thing should offer is a pound for a pound, so a nice round 1 pound.
TheTim
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2011
So, each of the 23000 defendants show up, with their respective lawyers. If they can't be accommodated in the court, I'm sure that's a legal loophole to have the case thrown out.

hemitite
not rated yet May 11, 2011
There must be some sort of "Cybercourt" app that the defendants can download to their smart phones so that they might have their microsecond in court.
Arkaleus
5 / 5 (5) May 11, 2011
For those of you who are computer illiterate, downloading is a dangerous game. If you try to connect with the latest bittorrent servers, you will see that the best servers with the most files and lowest pings are ALL from an "ISP" in Washington DC. This ISP specializes in anti-piracy and runs a server farm that allows people to find torrents to download, illegal and legal. They probably provide seeds to begin with, and then track everyone who connects to them.

What is happening is classic entrapment where the "infraction" is facilitated by the very same money interests behind these prosecutions.
sigfpe
3.7 / 5 (3) May 11, 2011
The law exists, according to the myths we're taught, for the benefit of all of society. So when a case has 23,000 defendants one can't help wondering whether the law is actually serving that purpose in this case.
that_guy
4.6 / 5 (7) May 11, 2011
The law exists, according to the myths we're taught, for the benefit of all of society. So when a case has 23,000 defendants one can't help wondering whether the law is actually serving that purpose in this case.


The original concept of copyright law WAS to benefit society, by protecting one's interest in art and innovation and the ability to profit off of it - thus encouraging people and companies to innovate and produce new art, music, and technology.

Obviously this concept went way off the rails back in the 40s and 50s, and has been getting crazier ever since.

Did you know for example, that all of charlie chaplain's work is STILL copyrighted by a troll of a company in New York that wanted to charge a little british girl thousands of dollars per performance for a fund raiser, and additional thousands for her youtube video of a Charlie Chaplan song??
pauljpease
4.3 / 5 (3) May 11, 2011
If everyone who downloaded things illegally (or otherwise infringed on copyright) voted according to their beliefs, it wouldn't be illegal. Assuming of course that there is a single candidate who is willing to actually enact laws that their constituents want. So I guess that won't be happening anytime soon. We are not governed by a democracy because certain ideas aren't allowed to even enter the debate, they are taboo. This is why we can't have a sensible healthcare system, like a single-payer system, because that is "socialism" and socialist ideas are taboo. Thus we remain free*, rather than free.

*subject to some limitations
SemiNerd
3.9 / 5 (8) May 11, 2011
Intellectual property is just that... property. By debasing property and trashing the ability to profit from ideas, we end up with the tragedy of the commons, and since most people won't be able to make anything from their ideas, most won't bother to try.

So copyright laws make a great deal of sense.

HOWEVER, there is clearly something indecent when a company encourages or allows thefts because its more profitable prosecuting people for that than selling that product. Given that its not that hard to develop schemes where content is encrypted, and people can download time limited copies, the onus should be on the content provider to prove they did all they could to prevent the theft. And the fines should be MUCH less.
that_guy
5 / 5 (4) May 11, 2011
one minor point -
The onus should be on the content provider to prove they did all they could to prevent theft
That's a very semantic point, and the idea of that very well leads to your songs playing on one device only again. It is much less hassle not to invite more drm.
I think two things should happen.

1. Knowing that you can keep a copyright for 170 years now is not any incentive for innovation or creation. Having your copyright expire in 25 however would give more impetus to keep creating instead of suing everyone.
2. If you steal a CD from the store, they can't sue you for 150,000. The amount for downloading a song should be brought in line with theft, and sharing the song should be adjusted accordingly.

Why are the punishments for digital theft so much higher than for shoplifters? because that's essentially the level of criminality of these people at worst.
Nemo
4.7 / 5 (3) May 11, 2011
And what to do about the large number of people I know with 5000+ video collections built from torrents? Hang them?
marraco
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2011
"The Expendables" was so bad, that I stopped watching it on the middle, and don't care about the rest of the movie.
BillFox
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2011
Americans are clearly wage slaves who have all of the freedom's that their corporate slave masters permit them to have.

America is a pathetic farce.


I continue to feel the same way day after day of living here. We are at our ideal situation of a decent standard of living, and with most of the population barely scraping by. Gives the government the most money they can get, constant spending and a state where people are too busy getting by to deal with stupid sh!t the government wishes to impose on us.
Squirrel
5 / 5 (2) May 12, 2011
Shouldn't we be asking why only B-movies and pornography? Could it be that studio and publishers of other works know this kind of legal action trashes good will to their brand?

What kind of actor or musician wants to be part of a film or track that might later might be involved in one of these subpoenas? Who will want to go or buy films from the studio that made Expendables?
lurch
1 / 5 (3) May 12, 2011
Let's get rid of intellectual property. Saying it encourages innovation is just wrong. It merely maintains the monopolies of big companies and keeps lawyers rich.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) May 12, 2011
This entire ordeal reminds me of "The Merchant of Venice", except Shylock is asking for a lot more than a pound of flesh.
alanborky
3 / 5 (2) May 12, 2011
I used to buy huge quantities of vinyl albums from the 70s to the 90s, but stopped buying them at all.

Why? Because the ratio of albums with a majority of crap songs went from 1 in 8 to 3 in 4. Worse, even big name artists started cynically releasing albums with one big hit on them, the rest of the album - at best - filler.

Even now, if, say, I watch a movie on line, it's to give me an idea whether it's worth watching, never mind shelling out for.

Everyone welcomed Youtube as wonderful means of free self promotion - until cash billionaire Google bought it and naked greed kicked in, supposedly on behalf of inexperienced newcomers, but newcomers' main concern is getting noticed.

Researchers of all kinds've shown time and time again people who can afford it, pay - if they trust the artist.

This's all about stopping consumers investigating products for free in the forlorn belief it'll force them into gambling their purchases won't be crap.

This's about the collection agencies' cut.
that_guy
not rated yet May 12, 2011
Let's get rid of intellectual property. Saying it encourages innovation is just wrong. It merely maintains the monopolies of big companies and keeps lawyers rich.


I do like your sentiment, but I just cannot agree with you. I work with authors in my off time, and while the art is part of their motivation, the idea of getting paid is often what drives them to take something to completion.

A business would put much less effort into R&D if they knew that all they needed to do was copy someone elses hard work.

The extreme view is almost always wrong. copyright laws are in dire need of fixing and update, but that does not mean that they are completely useless.

If I write a novel, you should not be allowed to republish it six months after I write it and make all the money off it. If a company makes widget A that is twice as effective as all other widgets, they should get some time to recoup their investment. This makes sense, does it not?
wwqq
not rated yet May 12, 2011
If I write a novel, you should not be allowed to republish it six months after I write it and make all the money off it.


Maybe. I'm not sure it's a right worth protecting. It comes at the cost of ever increasing invasive ness and monitoring.

If a company makes widget A that is twice as effective as all other widgets, they should get some time to recoup their investment. This makes sense, does it not?


Not really. They already have a first-mover advantage. If the invention concerns something non-trivial it will take serious time and effort to replicate, during which you have a de-facto monopoly and a chance to maintain and expand your lead. Removing patents gets rid of patent trolling like a patent on one-click shopping; it gets rid of biopiracy, like the patent on basmati rice; it gets rid of lengthy patent terms, which diminish the incentive to make further improvements.

E.g. James Watt used his separate condensor principle to hold back steam engines for ~30 years.
Beard
5 / 5 (4) May 13, 2011
Why are the punishments for digital theft so much higher than for shoplifters? because that's essentially the level of criminality of these people at worst.


Stealing a CD is even worse because you are stealing physical object someone payed to produce. Data however; has no scarcity.

-

What's more important to you? That these monsters who downloaded shitty porn and movies get their lives ruined or that your liberty is preserved at a minor or even imaginary expense to corporations?
daisrael
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2011
Hmmm... If these judgments stick expect to see a rise in bankruptcies.

Copyrighting for movies is reasonable. If someone REALLY wants to see it they can cough up the $7 for a matinée or wait the 2 months for it to hit red box and rip it.

Now patenting something you never intend to produce... not that should be illegal. There should be an "out in 5(years) or you are out" policy.
ECOnservative
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2011
I wish the courts didn't treat accessing digital content as if it were theft. Didical media is a service - the sooner the MPAA and the RIAA understand that, the sooner they'll get back to growth.

MC Lars had it right.
Beard
not rated yet May 17, 2011

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