12:47pm PT by Eriq Gardner
'Dumb and Dumber To' Piracy Leads to Copyright Lawsuits (Exclusive)
The rights-holder of Dumb and Dumber To, last year's sequel starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, is the latest to jump aboard the legal stratagem of suing anonymous users of BitTorrent for sharing copyrighted work.
At least five lawsuits were filed in Oregon federal court on Thursday with "Does" and their IP addresses listed as defendants. In court papers, the rights-holder says that the film is currently one of the top 10 most downloaded movies though BitTorrent and with over 1,000 IP addresses from Oregon alone. The plaintiff says it is seeking relief because it is "suffering notable and irreparable harm though piracy."
Dumb and Dumber To now becomes one the most notable movies — along with The Hurt Locker, Expendables 3 and The Dallas Buyers Club —to trigger litigation directed at individual pirates.
Typically in these cases, the plaintiffs seek to subpoena identifying information from ISPs in advance of settlement demands. Here, the judge is being told that "records maintained by Comcast should be able to identify either the defendant, or the subscriber who contracted with Comcast for service who in turn is likely to have knowledge that will lead to the identity of the defendant."
Copyright lawsuits against anonymous "John Does" have proven to be controversial and the subject of healthy debate in the legal community. Early versions of the legal strategy to go after anonymous pirates attempted to stuff as many defendants into a case as possible. Some judges rejected the mass-joinder approach. Although a couple of judges have questioned jurisdictional sufficiency and whether merely having an IP address is enough to pin blame on its user, the court docket continues to see hundreds of lawsuits on this front filed each month — often from the likes of very small producers like Malibu Media and Good Man Productions.
Nicolas Chartier, a film producer and early proponent of this approach, recently told The Hollywood Reporter that while he's never made a profit on the litigation, he has recovered money and made a statement. "The day after we announced 20,000 lawsuits, the Internet downloads of Hurt Locker went down about 40 percent," he said. "So, you know, you frighten people and then they stop."
The latest lawsuits concerning piracy of Dumb and Dumber To demands statutory damages, equitable relief and an injunction on defendants.
DDTO Finance is the official plaintiff, represented by Carl Crowell. The film was produced by Red Granite Pictures and distributed by Universal Pictures.