Filmmakers Ask “Pirate” to Take Polygraph, Backtrack When He Agrees

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The makers of the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club are displaying some dubious tactics in their ongoing crackdown on BitTorrent pirates. In California, the filmmakers recently asked an accused pirate to submit to a polygraph test, but changed their opinion after he agreed.

dallasThe makers of Dallas Buyers Club have sued thousands of BitTorrent users over the past two years.

Many of these cases end up being settled for an undisclosed amount. This usually happens after the filmmakers obtain the identity of the Internet account holder believed to have pirated the movie.

Not all alleged downloaders are eager to pay up though. In fact, many don’t respond to the settlement letters they receive or claim that someone else must have downloaded the film using their connection.

This is also true in the case Dallas Buyers Club filed against California resident Michael Ahmari. The filmmakers claimed that Ahmari downloaded a pirated copy of the movie after he was linked to a pirating IP-address and demanded a $10,000 settlement.

However, Ahmari denies any involvement, and when the copyright holders demanded a polygraph test to prove it, he agreed. However, soon after, Dallas Buyers Club’s attorney retracted the offer.

“Plaintiff demanded that defendant take a polygraph examination in exchange for a dismissal of the case. Plaintiff’s counsel disingenuously stated that he would bear all the costs for such a polygraph test,” Ahmari’s counsel Clay Renick writes.

“When plaintiff’s counsel then agreed to take such a test with the proviso that defense costs and attorney fees be covered, plaintiff then refused to pay costs and revoked his offer to conduct a polygraph.”

Instead of coming to terms, Dallas Buyers Club asked the court to order a default judgment in their favor, which Ahmari’s counsel asked the court (pdf) to set aside.

In addition to the backpedaling on the polygraph offer the filmmakers also made other false promises, according to the defendant’s lawyer.

For example, they offered to dismiss the case if he would state under penalty of perjury that he was not involved, while pointing out another possible suspect. However, after Ahmari submitted his declaration they moved for a default anyway.

“After receiving exculpatory evidence and the sworn declaration of defendant, Mr. Davis then refused to file a dismissal and proceeded to demand that defendant appear in the action or he would file a default.”

“This behavior is galling and it should not be permitted by the court,” the defendant’s counsel adds.

Because of these dubious tactics the court should set aside the default that was entered earlier this month. According to Renick, Dallas Buyer’s Club has nothing more than an IP-address to back up their infringement claims, which is not enough to prove guilt.

“This action is further proof of the malicious motives of plaintiff’s counsel who proceeds against an innocent defendant with nothing other than an IP-address to support his allegations,” he concludes.


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