Oh Wait… We Don’t Own The Copyright

This is something I’ve known about for a few months (obviously), but now that I ran across the information on other sites, I don’t see any issue with posting about it now…

Universal City Studios Productions (the entity suing me [more or less] on behalf of the MPAA) doesn’t actually have a legal right to sue because they didn’t own the copyright. {lol}

You can read the motion to dismiss over here if you are bored.

It is of course a technicality, and assuming the whole case is indeed thrown out, I’m sure once they get their heads screwed on straight they will probably start the whole process again with the correct entity (you know, one that actually owns a valid copyright). 🙂

Regardless if they do (or don’t) want to come after me again (again, assuming it is thrown out), it opens up a whole new can of worms. For the hundreds of people that “settled” for $2,500, are those settlements even legal/valid? If they turn out to be invalid, what can I do to help everyone get their settlement money back from Universal/MPAA? They’re legal right to make settlements with people would be along the same lines as me settling with you for downloading Star Wars. I’m thinking if people were paying me because I told them I owned the copyright to Star Wars (but I didn’t really) may be illegal in itself.


I never received a copy of the proposed settlement agreement (I didn’t request one since it wasn’t an option in my mind), but if anyone happens to have one or know anyone who has a settlement agreement for allegedly downloading Meet The Fockers, could you leave a comment here on this post (I’ll contact you to coordinate getting a copy). That way my lawyers can go over it and see if it’s legally binding if Universal City Studios Productions never owned the copyright to begin with.

I saw it on Tech Dirt, but I knew about it first (I swear!).. hah


27 thoughts on “Oh Wait… We Don’t Own The Copyright”

  1. Not that I’m on the side of greedy bastids, but can’t they authorize a company to represent them? Wouldn’t this fall under representation…

    I hope your right and I hope that everyone gets their money back along with a class action lawsuit settlement. 🙂

  2. Shawn this is great news. I am a huge Firefly fan and someone is being sued by Universal over some copyright infringements that they at first gave the fans permission to use to help support the making of the movie Serenity. I sent this article to her and told her that it would definitely be worth looking into. It could be just enough to get the action stopped for her since she has complied with all their demands.

    Your fight is really helping more people than you realize. Thank you.

  3. Now, while I”m totally for you, I hope that the motion to dismiss doesn’t go through. Really, getting a dismissal at this point in the game won’t help too much with other people who are getting hit by these horrid charges. Legal fees aside, I really do hope you can go to court and set some precident to put these bastages in their place.

  4. cldnails – I don’t think they can at this point. If the suit gets thrown out, I think they would have to pay my attorney fees and start the whole process over with the right entity making the claim. I don’t think you can file a lawsuit and then halfway through it say, “Oh, we aren’t really the plaintiff, these people are.”

    Obviously it’s just a technicality, but a technicality that sets them back a year, and also has the *possibility* of getting everyone else’s money back that did “settle”.

  5. If nothing else, this whole sordid saga is entertaining – I smell a class-action against Universal “something” representing those people that did settle.

  6. Actually, just got off the phone with my lawyer… there *is* no valid copyright registration. So if it’s thrown out they could sue again, but they would have to sue for ACTUAL damages instead of statutory damages (which they would never do).

  7. Does this therefore mean that for the moment, “Meet the Fockers” is fair game (Public Domain), for public posting?

  8. No, copyright exists automatically… but they would be limited to sue for actual damages, instead of statutory damages since there is no valid copyright registration with the government.

  9. Interesting…
    hehe, obviously it would be at least tacitly admitting guilt which is what you don’t want to do(since you’re not guilty), but the evil side in me thinks it would be fun to offer to settle with them for ‘actual damages’ minus your attorney fees of course. So ~$20 actual(or heck just send them your copy of the DVD back) minus what..maybe $20-30k by now?
    I’d bet they’re actually too stubborn to pay $30k for a “win”.


  10. Something gives me the feeling if they DID sue for “actual” damages, they would try for a really big number, with the justification that your publicizing this case has caused so many people to not purchase the movie or watch it, so they’ve lost even more money, it’s all your fault, neener neener neener…

    Something like that, anyways. Dicks.

  11. I’m not publicizing anything (intentionally). I just write on my blog… {shrug} They brought it to me, not the other way around.

  12. I applaud you sir for your honesty, bravery, and commitment to fight greedy and thoughtless corporations like the MPAA and RIAA.

    I also applaud that you do your own research on things you find important instead of just taking the word of anyone.


  13. Since they pretty much know they’re suing you for something that they don’t have any rights over, can’t you countersue for extortion/wrongful prosecution/defamation of character/etc? They really need to be brought in to court to (in)validate their position. It kinda bums me out that your lawyers had to move to dismiss, but they coulda dodged the result if they went through the case with no juristiction.

  14. I too am really upset over the fact that this may not go to trial. The fact of the matter is that the courts need to have this case tried and the courts and our lawmakers need to be educated on just how bad the DMCA laws are written. They also need to be educated on how the internet works and just because an accuser has an IP address, it doesn’t mean the individual has done anything illegal. I too was recently falsely accused of downloading copyrighted material because the accuser, who, by the way, doesn’t seem to be required identify himself to the accused, says that he tracked the file to my IP address. I’m a bit of a computer geek and I know that the only way of truely identifying a computer on the web is from it’s MAC. And if Windows XP’s Axtive X controls are turned off (hint for all P2P users), that information can’t be obtained by any packet sniffing application – especially in most builds of XP Pro SP2 (which won’t pass that information even with Active X on). I would hope that you will countersue for all the “little guys” like me to send a message to anyone that makes the accusation of copyright infringement had better have more substantial evidence than what IP address a packet of data has been sent to. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  15. Thanks for standing up against the corporate bullies. I hate to say this, but I think the MPAA and RIAA are both making a mockery of the justice system. I’ve learned through the examples of both companies that I could sue a 12 year old or a really old lady with almost no evidence. An IP address is no evidence. I get hackers going up against my websites all the time with spoofed addresses and through compromised systems. You could even fight the lawsuit on those premises.

  16. I have been searching everywhere for the outcome to your case. While you obviously abandoned your blog last year, could you please post the final result?

  17. This may sound like pure advocacy, but

    If you were using Linux (or OS X, but then you would be supporting a company who supports/profits from the DMCA laws), you would have much less chance of malware that can get you into this position in the first place.

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