An organization known as the US Copyright Group has issued lawsuits against thousands of alleged movie pirates. The organization represents an alliance of independent film producers, with backing from the Independent Film & Television Alliance. The group is expected to file another round of lawsuits (possible as many as 30,000) in the coming weeks. The really troubling thing here is almost all of these are so called “John Doe” cases with IPs as the only identifying information. The group is trying to force ISPs to hand over names. Thus far, only one ISP has cooperated, resulting in 71 names. Using so called “pre-settlement” letters; the US Copyright Group has so far gotten five of those people to pony up some cash.
This scheme seems to be aimed at casting the widest possible net to increase the odds of scaring someone enough that they settle an automated lawsuit. This practice has been common in Europe for some time, but this is the first time it has reached American shores. Even the RIAA has abandoned suing individuals, but this new trend is growing. “We’re creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel,” said lawyer Jeffrey Weaver.
The US Copyright Group is using a new software technology that monitors large Torrent swarms and logs IP addresses. By moving ahead with these large numbers, they hope to reach a stable cost/benefit ratio. They really do see this as a revenue stream. Unfortunately, this means ISPs have a huge burden to be the middle men processing the complaints. Does anyone want to play devil’s advocate and defend this practice?