If you’ve been keeping up with news on the Internet then by now you’ve probably heard of the law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver or as they are also referred to as the US Copyright Group. They are the attorneys that are trying to break new grounds in going after torrent downloaders and movie pirates.
First they tried to do a large en mass John Doe filing wherein they wanted the federal courts in Washington DC to claim jurisdiction for anyone that’s an American regardless of where they live. The problem with this is that that cannot be done. The law specifically states that jurisdiction when dealing with consumers is there location.
For instance, you cannot sue someone from Maine or from Oregon in Washington DC courts for a copyright violation. you would have to sue these individuals and their respective state and in the nearest federal or District Court. The reason why Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver tried to do this was that they would only have to file one lawsuit to request all of the John does information from their respective ISP providers.
And this is what they started doing. They thought that by filing these lawsuits out of jurisdiction and at an extreme inconvenience for those that are not located any words near Washington DC would cause more people to settle with their law firm for $3,000 or so dollars (that is their average settlement amount currently).
Finally the judges involved in this matter stopped Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver from this illegal method of extortion and they ended up dropping the majority of the cases that they had. Besides if any of these cases actually went to court they would most likely lose because of how they obtained the information.
They hired some sleazy group from Germany to try and siphon off ip addresses from forums, torrent downloaders like Bittorrent and websites. If an IP headers came up as being involved in uploading or downloading the respective movies that they’ve been hired to defend (like Hurtlocker, Far Cry, the Expendables, etc…) then these were added to their list further John Doe lawsuit.
The problem with this is that there is no definite proof that they have any of these people at these IP addresses actually participated in downloading or uploading these movies. There is also a lot of error involved in these IP addresses that they received and they know that. There is at least a 5 to 10% error rate in how they obtained the information. Plus there are many instances where they cannot possibly identify who actually did the downloading.
For instance, what if it occurred in a public place like Panera Bread or Starbucks where they have internet access? What if someone unknowingly left their wireless router unprotected and their neighbors were using their account? This is actually a legitimate problem because if you have a wireless router that is not password-protected it’s very easy for anyone your neighborhood to create an account and start using your service.
I know this myself because I found out several years ago that I had 18 of my neighbors using my wireless router and Internet account. The only reason why found that was my Internet service was extremely slow and getting slower by the day. A friend of mine that knew more about computers than I did came over and looked into the router set up and found over 18 accounts with all of my neighbors names on them.
So the questions here are should the law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver be allowed to sue John Does with reckless abandon as they have tried and should they be allowed to sue people with bad and erroneous information at best? The first question the courts in Washington DC have all ready answer for us as no. It is against the law and a misuse of the justice system to sue someone out of their legal jurisdiction. Of course the attorneys at Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver don’t care about what’s right or wrong – they just see the profits.
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The second one is really disturbing because who’s to say that this law firm that we all ready know it’s unethical, deceptive and untruthful wouldn’t just start pulling IP addresses out of thin air and adding them to the list for more money? Of course they’re going to do that and they have been doing that. Just look at all the people complaining the number downloaded the movies in question. I understand that some of the people are going to lie and deny that they downloaded a movie that they did and in that case you know they should face the penalties for that.
But what about all the elderly people that are 90 years old that would have actually no interest in watching any movies at all let alone one like Hurtlocker, Far Cry or the Expendables that are receiving these extortion letters from Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver? it isn’t just one occurrence. We are talking about hundreds and possibly even thousands of people that are being wrongfully accused and then extorted illegally in a definite misuse of the legal system by Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver.
Now, since they got their paws smacked by the federal courts in Washington DC, they don’t want people to think that they are going to sue them and they want to keep their extortion racket going so they are suing 2 unlucky people out in the Midwest to make an example out of them. Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver is not going to go and sue everybody – they don’t have the time, the money or the resources. their only interest here is to keep the US copyright group extortion machine going and make millions by making a complete mockery of the legal system here in America.
My only wish here is that some class action lawsuits emerge from this that completely bankrupt the law firm of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver. I would also like to see their attorneys put in jail for fraud and extortion.