A few weeks ago the makers of the Oscar-winning movie Hurt Locker indicated that they would sue tens of thousands of U.S. BitTorrent users. In a classic ‘pay up or else’ scheme, the first 5,000 victims have now been officially reported to court. If ISPs cooperate these downloaders can expect a settlement request in their mailboxes soon.
Hoping to recoup some of their claimed losses, the makers of Hurt Locker have partnered with the very lucrative ‘pay up or else’ money making scheme of the U.S. Copyright Group. The goal of the scheme is to identify as many infringers as possible, and threaten them with ruinous court action. Of course, they will also be given the offer to settle for a relatively low amount of money.
The first step of the scheme has now been officially initiated as a complaint against 5,000 ‘unidentified’ BitTorrent users was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. If the court approves, the ISPs of the alleged infringers will be ordered to hand over the personal information of the users associated with the IP-addresses.
All infringers that are identified will then be kindly asked to settle the dispute, or face further legal action. In the UK these schemes have been highly criticized by the public, consumer organizations and politicians because of the intimidating tactics and lack of solid evidence.
In the U.S. this particular case has not gone unnoticed either and it generated many headlines before an official complaint was filed. Although the U.S. Copyright Group say that 75% of ISPs are cooperating, most of the bigger ISPs remain skeptical, with Time Warner publicly resisting U.S. Copyright Group’s demands.
The U.S. Copyright Group, on its turn, went on to accuse Time Warner of inducing copyright infringement because of the refusal to expose its users. The group claims that Time Warner’s refusal to cooperate is a publicity stunt to gain the favor of consumers concerned about their privacy.
Then again, the U.S. Copyright Group is not totally open about its intentions either. Although they say it is their intention to sue individuals who do not pay, in reality that eventuality is impossible to maintain on any scale. Their aim will be to scare as many people as possible into paying, perhaps backed up with legal action against a tiny minority to prove a point.
The real winner in this soap opera is in fact the U.S. Copyright Group. As we reported before, the ‘pay up or else’ scheme is not only lucrative for the rights holders, who get only 30 percent of the settlement money. The remaining 70 percent goes to the U.S Copyright Group and its anti-piracy partners.
We encourage people who receive a settlement request to contact us, so we can look at the details and possibly assist in countering the threats of which many more are expected to be sent out in the months to come.