When tens of thousands of people are sued for alleged copyright infringement all at once, there are bound to be some unfortunate targets and plenty of collateral damage. Earlier this year an adult movie studio sued a blind man and now the makers of The Hurt Locker have taken it one step further – by sending their lawyers after a dead person.
Since last year, in the U.S. alone more than 200,000 people have been accused of pirating movies.
While it’s likely that a significant portion of the people who are suspected of downloading and sharing copyrighted material have indeed done the dead, we can be certain that tens of thousands of defendants are wrongfully accused. After all, an IP-address is not a person.
Every now and then cases appear where these wrongful accusations are apparent. Two weeks ago for example we reported on a blind man who was sued for downloading a porn movie. But things can get even more complicated.
The makers of The Hurt Locker have sued 24,583 alleged BitTorrent users, and starting earlier this year they’ve been sending out subpoenas to identify these defendants. However, it now appears that not all of the accused individuals can easily cough up the settlement fee of a few thousand dollars.
This week a letter was returned to the U.S. District Court, indicating that the addressee is no longer alive. Whether the person in question had already passed away at the time of the alleged offense is unknown.
Return to Sender
This is not the first time that a dead person has been sued for copyright infringement.
In 2006 the RIAA reached a new low when they did the same, and even more. After they found out that the alleged infringer had passed away they didn’t drop the case, but instead went after his children. Not before granting the children a 60-day grieving period of course.
“Plaintiffs do not believe it appropriate to discuss a resolution of the case with the family so close to Mr. Scantlebury’s passing. Plaintiffs therefore request a stay of 60 days to allow the family additional time to grieve,” RIAA’s lawyers wrote at the time.
Whether the makers of The Hurt Locker will be this cold-hearted is doubtful. After all, they probably don’t want their shoddy evidence to be tested in court, so they are likely to dismiss the dead person as collateral damage and move on to more lucrative targets.