For $250, the Arizona law firm White Berberian will represent people accused of illegal file sharing by "U.S. Copyright Group" (aka Dunlap Grubb & Weaver), the firm filing lawsuits on behalf of The Hurt Locker filmmakers and others who claim their movies have been widely pirated by P2P downloaders.
"U.S. Copyright Group" says it intends to sue more than 50,000 alleged file-sharers. They filed a complaint against the first 5,000 "unidentified" users last week, submitted some 700 IP addresses to the court in Washington, DC, and requested the personal details of each user. Torrentfreak has the IPs here.
What's most troubling to me, however, is the "ambulance-chaser" firm's emphasis on settling cases, rather than defending people who may honestly believe they are innocent. Snip from CNET's piece on White Berberian, the guys offering to defend the accused (their name makes me think of an albino Conan the Barbarian):
White Berberian charges $249 to negotiate a settlement on behalf of accused file sharers. That fee will not cover any "litigation-related activities" the attorneys said on the site. Steven White, one of the two founders of the firm, stressed in an interview with CNET late Friday that he and law partner Sean Berberian won't charge any client, unless they save the client money.
He acknowledged that neither he nor Berberian are experts in intellectual-property law but said they have a good understanding of the issues. The way they see the landscape looks like this: it is in Dunlap Grubb's interest to get the cases settled as quickly as possible, and this is where White Berberian hopes it can persuade the lawyers and Voltage Pictures to negotiate.
That's fine, but what about people who claim to be innocent and refuse to settle?
White said that for people who are innocent and want to fight, he would have a "frank discussion" about the facts of their case and the cost. According to White, the first thing that people accused of copyright infringement by Dunlap Grubb should know is that the firm is probably willing to sue a few people so that they can prove to everyone that their threats about litigation are real.
A related note: I've invited Nicolas Chartier of Voltage Pictures, LLC, Hurt Locker Producer and outspoken advocate of the lawsuits, to join in a conversation on this blog about the legal assault. He declined, told us he's been too busy to participate, but I hope he will accept our invitation for a debate of sorts when things settle down. Mr. Chartier, if you're reading, I promise you a respectful forum here on Boing Boing.