50,000 Movie Downloaders Being Sued To Create Revenue For Greedy Lawyers

By Josh Tyler 2010-03-31 01:17:01discussion comments
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In the past, most of the discussion over movie piracy has been focused on big Hollywood blockbusters like Wolverine. Those are the movies most likely to be pirated and thereís at least some miniscule amount of evidence there which could be used to suggest that illegally distributing them over the internet hurts box office. Yet illegal downloading of smaller, independent movies has been largely ignored. In part, itís because for some of these movies itís kind of a good thing. Independent films donít have the big advertising budgets of Hollywood blockbusters and if people are pirating your micro-budgeted movie, then at least itís getting seen and hopefully, theyíre spreading the word and encouraging others to buy it while they do it. But now, the Independent Film & Television Alliance has decided it likes money better than potential buzz.

THR says more than 50,000 lawsuits have been filed in federal court against individual downloaders for copyright infringement. Mostly, they all concern tiny indie-movies movies that no one is all that interested in seeing. Uwe Bollís Far Cry, for instance, is on the list. The lawsuits have been filed by the US Copyright Group with encouragement from the Independent Film Alliance. The US Copyright Group is a DC-based venture which exists mainly to make money. They sound kind of like a hedge fund or some other greed-based venture which makes money while producing nothing of value and creating general misery. Theyíre like tow truck drives with a college education. Did you download Uwe Bollís latest piece of crap? Youíre about to get towed.

At least theyíre up front about it. Gone is the usual bullshit about trying to protect the industry. These guys are pretty plainly just out to use the legal system as an excuse to gain unearned wealth. They say, ďWe're creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel.Ē No, youíre dragging people to court for attempting to support otherwise unwatched, independent cinema.

The lawsuit (a sample can be seen here) claims that the movies were downloaded via BitTorrent and that though they have no evidence the person also shared the film themselves, the nature of the technology is such that anyone who downloads anything also automatically uploads and shares it too. Iím no BitTorrent expert, but that sounds like kind of a big assumption. Correct me if Iím wrong here tech nerds, but itís not a one to one ratio where one download automatically equals one upload, is it?

Actually if theyíre serious about creating a ďrevenue streamĒ then the should figure out a way to avoid suing file sharers altogether and focus solely on suing people who only download. Itís to their benefit that these file sharers keep right on sharing, creating a product which draws in more downloaders, whom they in turn sue. Now thatís the kind of scam to get involved in.

Meanwhile to get the names of the 50,000 people doing the downloading, the US Copyright Group is attempting to strongarm ISPís into handing over their data. They, of course, canít possibly understand why a company wouldnít want to betray itís customers by handing over personal information to a random group of lawyers motivated purely by personal profit. Actually, donít give your ISP too much credit. Their motivations arenít all that pure. THR says your ISP is more than happy to betray you, for a price. Apparently Internet Service Providers are charging $32 to $60 for each IP address account requested. They want in on the cash-bonanza too.

Iím not a pirate, Iíve never downloaded a movie, and I probably never will. In general, as someone who loves movies, I think itís kind of a bad idea. But no matter what you think of piracy, what these people are doing is worse. Far worse. This is a high-tech version of a mob scam, itís like Al Capone shaking down drycleaners for protection money, only this time itís legal. Even if you donít download, theyíre biting into your wallet by wasting the time of your tax funded court system with massive lawsuits designed chiefly to line their own pockets. Sure maybe the content creators will get a cut, but itís the lawyers who really win in these things. Your taxpayer money is helping people who had nothing to do with the movies in question, people who contribute nothing to society on any level, get rich. Weíre all being scammed.
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