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Copyright Infringements Alleged in Mass Movie Downloading Suit

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The US Copyright Group has been busy filing lawsuits against at least 50,000 people accused of downloading and therefore allegedly infringing on the copyrights of independent films through the popular BitTorrent service.

While some cases have already settled out of court, others continue, leaving movie downloaders to wonder whether they could be next.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the fledgling company began considering such lawsuits when its lawyers learned about technology that monitors movie downloads in real time while visiting Germany. With this technology from Guardaley IT, ISP addresses are recorded and checked to make sure an actual download of copyrighted material has occurred.

With the ISP info in hand, lawyers then file “John Doe” lawsuits with subpoenas demanding to know the individuals’ names that match up with the ISPs; after that, they know where to send letters regarding settlement.

This convergence of technology and the law has been a success in Germany, at least from the standpoint of those making movies. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the producers of a limited-release German film ended up with $800,000 by suing movie downloaders, and now the U.S. Copyright Group has the Germans’ blessing to try it out here in the States.

One of the biggest questions in pursuing such litigation in the U.S. is how ISPs would respond. The answer thus far is that one ISP has given up more than 50 names and addresses — eight of those individuals have settled out of court after having received settlement letters from the U.S. Copyright Group — while others are still hashing it out.

Just how far this long arm of the law reaches will be interesting to track, and one can’t help but wonder whether movie studios will have any interest in going after alleged copyright violators, especially if ISPs show they’re willing to cooperate with subpoenas for information.

Read more at EFF’s 50,000 New Lawsuits Against Movie Downloaders and PC World’s Lawsuit Takes Aim at People Swapping Movies Online.

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April 1st, 2010 at 9:38 am