Copyright Lawyers Sued by Copyright Infringers

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Copyright Lawyers Sued by Copyright Infringers

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The U.S. Copyright Group and the law firm of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, who recently demanded sanctions against a lawyer who offered cheap assistance to people accused of copyright infringement, are now facing a class-action lawsuit filed by those very same people.

Earlier this year the United States Copyright Group issued threats of lawsuits to "tens of thousands" of people it claimed had illegally downloaded movies including The Hurt Locker, Call of the Wild and Far Cry. When an attorney began offering cheap "self-help" documents to people who couldn't afford to hire lawyers fight the action in the courts, the USCG's law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver demanded sanctions against him, to the tune of $5000.

But now the tables appear to have been turned, as the USCG and its lawyers have themselves been sued by the alleged Far Cry downloaders, who charge that the defendants are engaging in extortion, fraudulent omission, mail fraud, wire fraud, racketeering, abuse of process, copyright misuse and a laundry list of other unpleasantness. The gist of the accusation is this: Dunlapp, Grubb and Weaver promotes itself to prospective film industry clients as being able to "obtain settlement," not win judgments, and makes millions by threatening thousands of lawsuits that it has no intention of actually prosecuting and, with only 13 lawyers on staff, couldn't even if it wanted to.

"USCG tells prospective clients that civil prosecution of copyright claims has not been 'practical,' in light of the financial stats of individual infringers," the lawsuit claims. "Settlement fraud has proven far more practical for Defendants. Defendants use the demand letters and other means to coerce settlements, routinely demanding $1500 from each recipient, increasing to $2500 if not sent promptly, under deceptive threats of impending (and even more expensive) litigation."

The lawsuit claims that the "DGW revenue model" doesn't require that its individual cases have any merit, or that the people accused of infringing on its clients' copyrights actually be guilty at all. "DGW is well aware of the extremity of the damages awards it claims in its demand letters, and that its 'settlement offer' is less expensive than attorneys would charge merely to begin a litigation defense," the suit says. "Nonetheless, DGW capitalizes on fear and aims to intimidate, such that even non-infringers will be likely to pay up rather than risk higher fees and damages."

Like all good lawsuits, this one demands a host of various damages and injunctions, but its real significance is way beyond that. If successful, the action might not just end the USCG rampage but change the very nature of copyright infringement legal actions. If law firms are required to operate within their means, so to speak, and must be ready and able to litigate every case they threaten, it could make the prospect of engaging in these carpet-bombing campaigns prohibitively expensive even for the most deep-pocketed plaintiffs, or, more likely, bring the practice to an end altogether.

A full copy of the class-action lawsuit being filed against the U.S. Copyright Group, Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver and other defendants can be found at TorrentFreak.

Permalink

If what this post says is true and they're fear mongers intimidating people into settling, I hope they get destroyed in this.

This seems to be turning into a rather large and confusing string of lawsuits.

Next thing you know, a unicorn may have sued them all for stealing its cheesecake.

MurderousToaster:
This seems to be turning into a rather large and confusing string of lawsuits.

Next thing you know, a unicorn may have sued them all for stealing its cheesecake.

Dammit I wanted Vannila Cheescake, not Bannana cheescake!!

OT: Arhg, pirates me-hearies!!

Wait, so the assholes who started suing everyone are now getting sued by the people that they sued?

Sweet. I think.

EDIT: Oh, also...

Finally, proof that there is still some modicum of justice in the American legal system. Weird to actually see someone suing for a legitimate reason rather than extortion though.

*watches the dice roll*

c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!c'mon!

Good news, of course.

I don't care that those people are pirates, this sort of legalistic bullying is a bad thing.

MurderousToaster:
This seems to be turning into a rather large and confusing string of lawsuits.

Next thing you know, a unicorn may have sued them all for stealing its cheesecake.

I wonder if I can sue them for wasting my time by reading about their actions... that'd work right?

OT: I'm no longer sure who to root for... go team unicorn!

kaizen2468:
If what this post says is true and they're fear mongers intimidating people into settling, I hope they get destroyed in this.

I hear that! This nonsense couldn't come to an end soon enough!

Aw man, this is turning out pretty awesome. The only way this could get better (apart from aforementioned Unicorn) is if Judge Dredd Busts in the court shouting "I AM THE LAW!"

Fuck the piracy is wrong or right part of this story, this is some brilliant legal maneuvering. It's 100% true that these RIAA, USCD, MPAA, and other agencies have no possible way to back up every lawsuit threat with an actual suit, and if they're required to do so (I don't know the federal or state laws on this atm, but I'll be researching), then it'd destroy their whole fearmongering campaign.

Also:

Sup dawg, we heard you liked lawsuits, so we sued you for your suit so you can sue while you sue.

Andy Chalk:
If law firms are required to operate within their means, so to speak, and must be ready and able to litigate every case they threaten, it could make the prospect of engaging in these carpet-bombing campaigns prohibitively expensive even for the most deep-pocketed plaintiffs, or, more likely, bring the practice to an end altogether.

Maybe it's my own nievitie, but I'm of the opinion law firms should do this anyways. That's just me though. This is also where their "blood-sucker" reputation comes from. I find the whole practice disgraceful.

Irridium:
Wait, so the assholes who started suing everyone are now getting sued by the people that they sued?

Sweet. I think.

EDIT: Oh, also...

'This video contains content from Vevo, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds'

Classic.

I'd say "Good job sticking it to them", but I have to remember that they are still people who are illegally downloading stuff instead of purchasing it. Both sides in this are the bad guys and I hope a way is found for them to both lose.

Anyone who would go out of there way to watch the Far Cry movie deserve punishment.

mjc0961:
I'd say "Good job sticking it to them", but I have to remember that they are still people who are illegally downloading stuff instead of purchasing it. Both sides in this are the bad guys and I hope a way is found for them to both lose.

They're accused of downloading illegal content. With accused by the main word here. AFAIK there was not much in the way of proof.

This is truly good news.

Suck on that lawyers, your own system knows is better than you.

Andy Chalk:
Copyright Lawyers Sued by Copyright Infringers

image

The U.S. Copyright Group and the law firm of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, who recently demanded sanctions against a lawyer who offered cheap assistance to people accused of copyright infringement, are now facing a class-action lawsuit filed by those very same people.

Earlier this year the United States Copyright Group issued threats of lawsuits to "tens of thousands" of people it claimed had illegally downloaded movies including The Hurt Locker, Call of the Wild and Far Cry. When an attorney began offering cheap "self-help" documents to people who couldn't afford to hire lawyers fight the action in the courts, the USCG's law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver demanded sanctions against him, to the tune of $5000.

But now the tables appear to have been turned, as the USCG and its lawyers have themselves been sued by the alleged Far Cry downloaders, who charge that the defendants are engaging in extortion, fraudulent omission, mail fraud, wire fraud, racketeering, abuse of process, copyright misuse and a laundry list of other unpleasantness. The gist of the accusation is this: Dunlapp, Grubb and Weaver promotes itself to prospective film industry clients as being able to "obtain settlement," not win judgments, and makes millions by threatening thousands of lawsuits that it has no intention of actually prosecuting and, with only 13 lawyers on staff, couldn't even if it wanted to.

"USCG tells prospective clients that civil prosecution of copyright claims has not been 'practical,' in light of the financial stats of individual infringers," the lawsuit claims. "Settlement fraud has proven far more practical for Defendants. Defendants use the demand letters and other means to coerce settlements, routinely demanding $1500 from each recipient, increasing to $2500 if not sent promptly, under deceptive threats of impending (and even more expensive) litigation."

The lawsuit claims that the "DGW revenue model" doesn't require that its individual cases have any merit, or that the people accused of infringing on its clients' copyrights actually be guilty at all. "DGW is well aware of the extremity of the damages awards it claims in its demand letters, and that its 'settlement offer' is less expensive than attorneys would charge merely to begin a litigation defense," the suit says. "Nonetheless, DGW capitalizes on fear and aims to intimidate, such that even non-infringers will be likely to pay up rather than risk higher fees and damages."

Like all good lawsuits, this one demands a host of various damages and injunctions, but its real significance is way beyond that. If successful, the action might not just end the USCG rampage but change the very nature of copyright infringement legal actions. If law firms are required to operate within their means, so to speak, and must be ready and able to litigate every case they threaten, it could make the prospect of engaging in these carpet-bombing campaigns prohibitively expensive even for the most deep-pocketed plaintiffs, or, more likely, bring the practice to an end altogether.

A full copy of the class-action lawsuit being filed against the U.S. Copyright Group, Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver and other defendants can be found at TorrentFreak.

Permalink

Gaming the legal system is just as bad as piracy.

As a trainee solicitor in the UK that wants to get into Intellectual Property Law, I just want to say...

Good. These companies and lawfirms that accuse people of IP theft and don't in any way intend to back up their claims with actual evidence or cases brought to court deserve to be sued into oblivion. Those bloodsucking parasites are one of the major reasons the legal profession is hated by gamers, and I hope that this case will help stop the huge number of allegations being thrown out every month by some of these advocacy groups and publishers.

MurderousToaster:

Next thing you know, a unicorn may have sued them all for stealing its cheesecake.

That already happened, but then the cheesecake sued as it felt it was going to be murdered, then a knife and fork sued as they felt they were being manhandled.

The lawyers then sued the knife and fork for not fulfilling their contracts, at which point the lawyers sued the unicorn after alleging that the cheesecake was theirs to begin with and the unicorn initially stole it of them anyway, so they stole it back and ate it with their hands (as the knife and fork were in a meeting with their legal representation).

I think I've just broken my brain

This made my day. It made my day SO HARD.

This makes me so very happy. I have little tolerance for those that prey on the uninformed when it comes to legal matters. The law here is so commonly bent and twisted to suit the needs of the already successful and powerful individuals, with little to no help ever going towards the individuals. I really hope to see more instances like this, but unfortunately I'm pretty pessimistic that any good will actually come of this. While the lawsuit may have been filed, I wouldn't put it past any judge to rule in favor of those abusing the system.

This... Is brilliant.

And good PR, to be blunt. I mean, it's a game studio behind this counter-suit. They have as much interest in preventing piracy as any other company that produces IP, and yet they're backing a lawsuit that superficially at least, supports piracy.

Of course, the reality, is, as they point out, that these people are making a mockery of the legal system, and should be stopped.

Because, honestly, this undermines the legal system itself. And that's a really, really, bad thing.

JordanMillward_1:
As a trainee solicitor in the UK that wants to get into Intellectual Property Law, I just want to say...

Good. These companies and lawfirms that accuse people of IP theft and don't in any way intend to back up their claims with actual evidence or cases brought to court deserve to be sued into oblivion. Those bloodsucking parasites are one of the major reasons the legal profession is hated by gamers, and I hope that this case will help stop the huge number of allegations being thrown out every month by some of these advocacy groups and publishers.

As someone who was dissuaded from moving on to law school after all the law classes he had to take to get his current degree? Here here.

This is hilarious, in like a really sad way.

Finally, back from this fucking suspension. First thing I can say is:
Lol, law.

I used to work in international patents and copyrights back in t'day and I can honestly say it's the most convoluted bullshit going.

The laws throughout the world vary so greatly, and are so fucking vague, that its easy for anyone with a professional-looking letterhead to make threats whether their intellectual property is under adequate protection or not.

December 20, 2010: Copyright layers sued by anti-copyright layers who sued the copyright layers then sued more anti-copyright layers, have they themselves been sued by anti-copyright layers while being sued by their own company, who is being sued by the Supreme Court for getting "just plain silly".

NeedAUserName:

MurderousToaster:

Next thing you know, a unicorn may have sued them all for stealing its cheesecake.

That already happened, but then the cheesecake sued as it felt it was going to be murdered, then a knife and fork sued as they felt they were being manhandled.

The lawyers then sued the knife and fork for not fulfilling their contracts, at which point the lawyers sued the unicorn after alleging that the cheesecake was theirs to begin with and the unicorn initially stole it of them anyway, so they stole it back and ate it with their hands (as the knife and fork were in a meeting with their legal representation).

I think I've just broken my brain

That is the best thing i have heard in my entire life.

Frankly it is about damn time somebody did this - the activities that particular law firm has been engaging in (and I suspect most "copyright defense" lawyers are as well) is absolutely extortion - they aren't suing infringers and offering to settle out of court, they're threatening to drag possible infringers (don't need proof if it never goes to court!) into expensive litigation if they don't pay up to the tune of a settlement.

When the mafia suggests that it sure would be terrible if something ever happened to you and wouldn't it be so much better for your peace of mind if you payed them a small fee to make sure it doesn't, that is a [insert favorite expletive of choice here] crime. Exploiting the due process of the legal system to achieve the same thing doesn't make it any less reprehensible and shady of an action, and that law firm deserves to get the pants sued off it for engaging in such tactics.

Awww, stupid pirates ruining the suits and ties extortion racket? Is nothing sacred anymore? Humf.

This is pretty cool, using the law to beat the law.. lawyers have been doing this forever, it's good to see the little guy getting his own back.

It's a real pity though, the suits won't allow them to win it, they'll just buy the judges, per usual.

Freezy_Breezy:
Um, Andy? Why did you post this twice?

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.247222-Copyright-Lawyers-Sue-Lawyer-Who-Helped-Copyright-Defendants

Nope - this is the defendants suing the lawyers suing their lawyer LOL - it's all one big happy suing family, and I love it! He did use the same pic though ;)

That is the funniest thing I have read in a long time.

I still want to know why people are voluntarily downloading Far Cry though, my question from the last topic went unanswered!

Anyway, OT, it just goes to show that you should never get too lawsuit happy, especially when the people you were attempting to sue actually have legal advice now.

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