The reprieve that John Doe defendants had when Hurt Locker and Far Cry mass copyright infringement cases were dismissed due to jurisdiction issues didn’t last very long.
As promised, the group of prosecuting attorneys working under the name U.S. Copyright Group (USCG) has begun re-filing cases on behalf of movie studios, in district courts that have jurisdiction over the geographical areas where the crime of illegally sharing the films on P2P networks allegedly took place. Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled back in December that thousands of defendants could not be prosecuted in the District Court of Washington DC, and that cases would have to be re-filed, individually, at the expense of the USCG.
“Filing in Florida in about 10 minutes,” attorney Thomas Dunlap told CNET in an email this week. “I am driving to courthouse now, should have cases already in Illinois. We will file in California, Texas, Washington, and Oregon in the next two weeks.”
Cases have also already been filed in Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, and West Virginia. Since USCG’s lawyers are not licensed to practice in all of these states, the firm has begun hiring attorneys from all over the US to handle the lawsuits.
Dunlap and company are currently working on pursuing litigation in which defendants have not agreed to settle out of court. Early on in these cases, the USCG typically sends letters notifying defendants of the alleged infringement, and offers to drop the suit if they are willing to fork over between $1500 and $3000. This type of mass litigation has, unsurprisingly, earned a reputation as a money-making scheme for the law firms and studios involved, rather than actually being a legitimate way to reduce piracy.
Though Dunlap had vowed to re-file cases against the dismissed defendants, it was widely speculated whether it would actually happed because of the tremendous expense of individual filing fees per defendant and the fact that other firms had to be hired in nearly every state.
I actually have a tiny shred of respect for the fact that the USCG and movie studios are actually continuing to pursue these cases in light of the extra expense. Maybe they actually are doing this on the basis of their desire to fight piracy. I do wonder, however, if the price tag to settle out of court will be increased to help compensate for the added costs.