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Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:43

Bad movies make cash on copyright trolling

Written by Nick Farrell



Straight to video can still make a profit

The US is starting to notice an upswing in the number of bad movies being named in movie copyright cases. The thought is that if a movie is going straight to video, or does not look like it will make its cash back, the studios are hiring copyright trolls to make bit of cash on the side.

One of the titles which has been appearing is "Maximum Conviction” which is one of the lesser status works of the actor Steven Seagal. Lawyers for Voltage Pictures seem to be helping the movie turn a profit by issuing massed law suits against people it says are filing sharing the flick. One person was given two weeks to pay $7,500 or she could face a judgment of as much as $150,000.

According to Oregon Live it seems to have caught a lot of people in its net who do not file share. One named was Emily Orlando taught English at Clackamas Community College for 26 years. The 64-year-old has never seen "Maximum Conviction," and hadn't heard of BitTorrent before the letter. We would have thought she had a good case to sue them for defamation, as accusing someone of seeing Steven Segal movie is libel. However Oregon Live points out that Voltage has filed nine similar cases in federal court in the state, naming nearly 1,000 defendants.

Another strange case is the film Elf-Man. Jason "Wee Man" Acuña plays an elf who discovers that he is a budding superhero. You would never have seen this film at the movie theatres but there are three law suits claiming that lots of people wanted to pirate it. If all 371 'John Does' on this lawsuit pay $3,000 or $2,000, as the copyright troll demanded then the film will make more than a million dollars in Oregon alone. This could mean that copyright trolling is the way that small film makers can turn a hefty profit from dodgy flicks.

No doubt sometimes the films are pirated, but a lot of other cases the people will just pay up because they are worried that paying a lawyer would only ratchet up their costs. Others who have ignored the cases have been hit with the maximum penalties. Either way the copyright trolls win.

Nick Farrell

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