Movie studio Voltage Pictures is no stranger to suing BitTorrent users.
The company has pioneered mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the United States and is estimated to have made a lot of money doing so.
Earlier this year Voltage and Dallas Buyers Club LLC initiated lawsuits against alleged file-sharers of the Oscar-winning movie. Several hundred alleged downloaders have been targeted since.
Most of these cases end up being settled for an undisclosed amount. This is usually a figure around $3,500, which is what the company offers in their settlement proposals. However, this week we stumbled upon something bigger.
A few days ago a federal court in Oregon handed down a hefty judgment against a person who shared a copy of Dallas Buyers Club via BitTorrent. The order is a so-called consent judgment, the terms of which are agreed by both parties, for the sum of $14,000.
“A Money Judgment in favor of plaintiff Voltage Pictures, LLC and Dallas Buyers Club, LLC and against defendant DOE-188.8.131.52 is awarded the sum of $14,000.00. This figure includes costs, fees and damages,” the order (pdf) reads.
The amount is unusually high for a consent judgment especially since the defendant, who remains anonymous, hired a proper attorney. If others get the option to settle for $3,500 or less, why would this person agree to pay four times as much?
It’s safe to assume that the defendant in this case never got the option for a cheaper settlement and a good look at the original complaint may explain why. As it turns out, the movie makers collected a whole lot more dirt on the defendant.
In an attempt to beef up their case, the movie studio compiled a list of 118 titles (pdf) that were shared by the defendant’s IP-address. This includes several TV-show episodes including Game of Thrones, as well as popular movies, software and music titles.
“As can be seen from Exhibit 1, defendant is a prolific proponent of the BitTorrent distribution system advancing the BitTorrent economy of piracy,” they wrote in their complaint.
While it remains speculation, it’s likely that the Dallas Buyers Club makers used these collateral downloads to add extra pressure. In any case, it certainly didn’t hurt their negotiating position.
This is not the only consent judgment won by Dallas Buyers Club recently. In a similar case in Oregon the company obtained $7,500 from another avid BitTorrent user who shared more than hundred other titles as well.
Apparently, Voltage and Dallas Buyers Club LCC have found a rather effective way to increase settlement fees. TF asked Dallas Buyers Club’s attorney for a comment on the varying amounts, but we have yet to hear back.
In any case, pirates are warned: Anything you download or share may be used against you in a court of law.