The U.S. Copyright Group has recruited over a dozen smaller firms around the United States to go after BitTorrent users who downloaded the movies "Far Cry," "The Hurt Locker," "Steam Experiment," and "Uncross the Stars." Did you download any of these?
The U.S. Copyright Group originally filed the lawsuit against 5000 defendants, which are grouped into one "John Doe" group. The U.S. Copyright Group is a group of IP lawyers that have come together to sue as many downloaders in 5 months as the RIAA did in five years. They've filed 14,000 already this year. There's more to come in August, says The Hollywood Reporter. An "explosion" of lawsuits is set to unravel as a result of the initial letters sent out by the USCG.
And you thought Joel Tenenbaum had it bad! The Royal Tenenbaum got off easy!
They're asking for $1500 for a settlement from peeps who downloaded one of these movies and received a letter from them. If they don't pay within the next three weeks, it gets bumped up to $2500. If they decide to skip that and go to court, the U.S. Copyright Group will try to claim $150,000 in copyright infringement damages plus court fees. They've even set up a special web site for the "sued" to log in and pay their fines.
The U.S. Copyright Group is a freestyle band of lawyers acting on the own entrepreneurial spirit, filing lawsuits and sending a settlement notice to the downloader with a demand a settlement amount. The U.S. Copyright Group then works with the copyright holders of these movies and splits the court winnings with the copyright holder.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Public Citizen argued via anamicus brief that the U.S. Copyright Group doesn't have jurisdiction in this matter. Their efforts seem to have failed.
Although this makes little sense in light of how much of a disaster this turned out be for the RIAA and music industry, the U.S. Copyright Group seems to have learned that the legal responsibility lies more with the user/downloader than it does the people who made the software.
On P2P networks, a user downloads a file from a single other user. On BitTorrent, though, downloads are handled more efficiently by grabbing a piece of the file from many different users; this allows each piece to download at the same time before being reassembled into a single file again. This is the crux of the U.S. Copyright Group's strategy in pursuing people in one big legal action.
"Essentially, because of the nature of the swarm downloads as described above, every infringer is simultaneously stealing copyrighted material through collaboration from many other infringers, through a number of ISPs, in numerous jurisdictions around the country," reads the filing from the U.S. Copyright Group.