US Copyright Group has sued tens of thousands of BitTorrent users who allegedly shared films like Far Cry.
Don’t be bullied into settlement fraud — fight back!
The US Copyright Group (“USCG”) is an alias of the Virginia law firm Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver PLLC (“DGW”). They’ve launched an unprecedented volume of predatory lawsuits, suing in 2010 alone almost 20,000 unnamed “John Doe” defendants whom they allege illegally downloaded or uploaded certain movies, such as Far Cry.
Using questionable technology and strong-arm tactics, DGW and USCG track down alleged downloaders and send out “demand letters” full of false claims and empty threats, seeking to pressure alleged infringers into settling their claims quickly and out of court. But many of their claims about Far Cry don’t hold water.
Q. I received a demand letter that offers to settle for $1,500 to $2,500, if I pay up right away. Is that a good deal?
FACT: It’s been more than ten months since USCG filed its claim of copyright infringement and started sending out coercive demand letters. And they still haven’t named a single defendant. Until they do, some critics will say that this is just a settlement racket, and DGW’s not going to sue anyone. And many of the infringing acts that DGW alleges don’t support extraordinary remedies like statutory damages.
Q. The demand letter says they can take me to court and try to get a judgment of up to $150,000 for downloading a single movie. Is that really possible?
FACT: No. $150,000 is the maximum statutory damages award available under the Copyright Act, for acts of willful infringement, but there has never been a judgment in the United States finding an individual downloader liable for the full $150,000. Because of the timing of the copyright registration and the first publication date of Far Cry, the film studio has no right to pursue a statutory damages award for most of the infringing acts they claim. But that hasn’t stopped them from claiming that right in thousands of demand letters.
Q. If they can’t sue people for statutory damages, what can they sue people for?
FACT: When a copyright owner can’t sue for statutory damages, they can sue for actual damages. Even if DGW and USCG sue people and manage to prove their claims in court, most of the people they accuse of infringing the copyright in Far Cry can’t be liable for anything more. Actual damages are measured by their lost profits on each infringement. If they’ve lost anything from a download, it’s no more than their share of a DVD sale. But they know you can’t shake down thousands of people for $1500 settlements if you threaten to sue them for $26.99 each.
Had enough? Booth Sweet LLP represents a group of class action plaintiffs who are fighting the Far Cry settlement scam. Read the Class Action Complaint here. If you’ve been accused of downloading Far Cry, we urge you to contact us. The sooner you do, the more we can help you.