Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver, a law firm that represents independent filmmakers, apparently was not bluffing when it promised to pursue further legal action against illegal file sharers. The firm, which also operates under the U.S. Copyright Group moniker, filed thousands of copyright lawsuits last year against downloaders of the Oscar-winning film “The Hurt Locker” and “Far Cry.” The firm offered the accused a chance to settle, and those who did not accept the offer are now being named in new lawsuits across the country.
Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver filed lawsuits last year in a Washington, D.C. federal court. The strategy backfired, however, as the firm received opposition from the court, since many of the defendants lived outside of its jurisdiction. Rather than giving up, the firm has created a network of lawyers nationwide to help file suits in various federal districts. Cases have been filed against downloaders of “Far Cry” in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and West Virginia. Other suits will supposedly be filed in California, Illinois, Oregon, Texas, and Washington in the coming weeks.
The suits being filed in this second round of action from Dunlap, Grubb, and Weaver are a bit different in their form, as each names a single defendant. As promised, the firm is now suing individuals who refused to settle out of court. In order to file its individual suits, Dunlap has had to subpoena records from multiple Internet service providers to obtain names and other data.
Defendants received documents last year containing offers to settle for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500 to $3,000. Many saw the settlement offers as nothing more than scare tactics, but the newest edition of lawsuits shows the opposite. Dunlap's recent actions come as a bit of a surprise to some, especially considering the high costs associated with trying to win a copyright judgment versus a defendant. One has to look no further than the example set by the music industry's suit against Jammie Thomas-Rasset. The Minnesota resident was accused of illegal file sharing, and record label representatives have spent millions of dollars in fees on the case, which has not yet been resolved.
While it may be at the forefront of recent copyright litigation, Dunlap is not the only firm that has taken part in the fight against online piracy. Attorney Evan Stone filed copyright suits against thousands of defendants accused of illegally downloading adult films online. Stone represented 11 copyright owners, but ran into a major snag when a federal judge in Texas severed thousands of defendants from the suits. The judge ruled that there was not enough information to bind the defendants into a single suit, even though Stone argued that illegal downloaders must work together to properly share files via BitTorrent and other sites.
A similar ruling was given in a West Virginia federal court when a judge severed defendants from suits. Despite the judge's ruling, Stone vows to pursue further action by obtaining the names and addresses of the file sharers.
For more on this topic, visit http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20033133-261.html
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