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CEO Shawn Hogan Takes on MPAA 491

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the how-long-till-it-stops dept.
IAmTheDave writes "Shawn Hogan, CEO of Digital Point Solutions, has found himself on the receiving end of an MPAA lawsuit claiming he downloaded a copy of 'Meet the Fockers' on Bittorrent. Mr. Hogan both denies the charges as well as claims he already owns the movie on DVD. After being asked to pay a $2500 extortion fee, Mr. Hogan lawyered up and has vowed to challenge and help change the MPAA's tactics. 'They're completely abusing the system,' Hogan says. Although expecting to pay well over $100,000 to defend himself, he claims 'I would spend well into the millions on this.'"
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CEO Shawn Hogan Takes on MPAA

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  • Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@uberm00. n e t> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:44PM (#15777855) Homepage Journal
    My guess: They'll drop the suit against this guy, but continue to threaten those that don't have the means to fight back.
    • Re:Prediction (Score:5, Informative)

      by milamber3 (173273) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:49PM (#15777907)
      Well, if you bothered to RTFA it seems that the MPAA is doing exactly the opposite. The head of their antipiracy division is openly saying they're looking forward to a trial and verdict next summer.
      • Re:Prediction (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That's what one lawyer said, but there is no chance they go through with the case. If they lose then it sets a very bad precedent (from their perspective). $2500 from one man isn't worth opening the door for other challenges, which could happen if they lose the case.
      • Re:Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Danse (1026) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:56PM (#15777990)
        Well, if you bothered to RTFA it seems that the MPAA is doing exactly the opposite. The head of their antipiracy division is openly saying they're looking forward to a trial and verdict next summer.

        That's what they're saying now. Give it a couple months. They'll probably drop it quietly after everyone has forgotten about it.
        • Re:Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TechForensics (944258) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:28PM (#15778349) Homepage Journal
          They can't drop the case if the defendant files a counterclaim. Or if they do, they're still in court on the counterclaim. If Hogan wants to teach them a lesson, he'll make sure his counterclaim litigates all of the issues they don't want litigated, including some they'd be forced to litigate if they actually took someone all the way to court.
          • Re:Prediction (Score:3, Informative)

            by Danse (1026)

            They can't drop the case if the defendant files a counterclaim. Or if they do, they're still in court on the counterclaim. If Hogan wants to teach them a lesson, he'll make sure his counterclaim litigates all of the issues they don't want litigated, including some they'd be forced to litigate if they actually took someone all the way to court.

            That all depends on what the judge decides to let him pursue. The judge could decide that he doesn't have standing to pursue some issues.

      • Re:Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@uberm00. n e t> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:00PM (#15778034) Homepage Journal
        I must admit, if they do go through with it, it'll be a hell of a lot more interesting than SCO. ;^)

        And just like them, they'll have no evidence that proves anything. Whether an IP address from a log from a P2P search bot is enough to convince a judge of the merit of the case... well, that's the interesting part.
      • by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:30PM (#15778973) Homepage Journal


        The head of their antipiracy division is openly saying they're looking forward to a trial and verdict next summer.

        The head of the anti-piracy division is given incentives to bring cases to trial, etc. It's the other executives in the organization that will look at the potential costs involved for the MPAA and decide to throw in the towel.

        When Metallica sued Napster, it wasn't Lars Ulrich's idea. He's an utter moron. Instead, it was the record label's lawyers who convinced Lars to pony up the seed money to launch the suit against Napster. Because Lars is stupid, he convinced the band to go forward with suing Napster. Other entities hadn't sued because the legal outlook for a victory was doubtful. Metallica's lawyers had a client with more money than brains, so they were able to forge ahead. In a civil case like that, if Metallica were to lose, they would have had to pay their own lawyers AND Napster's legal fees. Same with this case. Either way, Metallica's lawyers would get paid for a lot of hours on the case. Same with the MPAA's lawyers.

        In the Napster case, dumb luck prevailed and Metallica won. In this case, I agree with the GP. The business managers at the MPAA are going to see the conclusion pretty soon and throw in the towell on this lawsuit.

        The other reason they'll abandon this lawsuit is to avoid the risk of setting a legal precedent. If this guy pushes the case to a victory, then it'll mean the MPAA won't be able to threaten the same legal action against other suspected movie downloaders. Even a newbie lawyer would be able to get these cases dismissed right off the bat by citing the decision in this case.

        Seth
  • I wonder... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Linkiroth (952123) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:44PM (#15777859)
    Does he call his team of lawyers "Hogan's Heroes"?
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:46PM (#15777868) Journal
    I personally would like to extend a helping hand to Shawn. If he wants to take this to court, I would like to pay him a simple $10 through Paypal for fighting the good fight. I've given the same donations to Slashdot and many many opensource projects (especially those on SourceForge) that have made my life easier.

    I would like to live in a world where I'm not worried about some organization of rich bastards strong arming citizens out of hard earned cash. There have been several cases so far where people have been charged with little or no evidence. The methods by which they obtain their evidence is even shadier.

    If you're reading this, Shawn Hogan, please leave some contact info so we can donate small sums of money to aid in your defense.
  • class action (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@@@devinmoore...com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:46PM (#15777873) Homepage Journal
    The point is that if he can force something like a class action, then maybe we can all jump in and get some cash back from the MPAA, even if you don't have enough money to defend yourself.
    • Re:class action (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dr_dank (472072) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:03PM (#15778076) Homepage Journal
      Yes, so the lawyers walk away with ungodly sums of money and the settlement class gets a shiny nickel. I'm all for the MPAA having to cough up, but I cringe when I think about who that directly benefits and who gets next to nothing.
      • Re:class action (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Doctor Memory (6336) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:17PM (#15778225)
        I cringe when I think about who that directly benefits and who gets next to nothing.
        Hey, if somebody beat up the bully who was stealing your lunch money and took his bike, iPod and cell phone and left you whatever you could scavenge from his backpack, would you really mind? He got his, and you got something, and he won't be bothering anyone anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:47PM (#15777887)
    One of the MPAA's executives was quoted as saying, "HooooooGAN!," while holding onto his monacle.
  • Not gonna happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigNumber (457893) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:47PM (#15777891)
    He won't get a chance to 'defend himself' unless he decides to counter-sue. The MPAA will simply drop the case and move on to a less aggressive victim.
    • by Elsimer (126214) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:16PM (#15778808) Homepage
      http://www.zeropaid.com/news/6466/MPAA+v+Shawn+Hog an:+The+Zeropaid+Interview [zeropaid.com]

      According to the interview, he's decided to force the issue into court no matter what the MPAA does:

      CH: So your position is that you aren't going to settle and that you didn't do anything wrong?

      SH: Yep. At this point they have pushed me enough to where I'm going to do whatever I can to keep them from dropping the case. I can't prevent them from dropping it, but I am going to try and force them to go to a full trial. Basically, my lawyers aren't even going to file a motion to dismiss.

      CH: That would be great, it would have to be pretty embarrassing for them to go to a full trial that ends up clearing you completely.

      SH: It will set a precedent for everyone else, that's the whole point. Between the RIAA and the MPAA it's almost 20,000 people that have settled. All John Doe lawsuits, not a single one has gone to a final judgment. All these people settling for basically what adds up to extortion, I want to put a stop to it. At this point, I don't care what it costs. If they drop it, I will find something to counter with to keep it in court.
  • by Poromenos1 (830658) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:47PM (#15777892) Homepage
    No wonder he doesn't want to admit to downloading it, that movie sucked! I bet he doesn't even have the DVD.
    • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:06PM (#15778106) Homepage
      I don't see how ownership of the original media serves as "proof" that he didn't download it.

      Besides, with BitTorrent, you upload chunks of the torrent even as you download the file. What if he didn't download the .torrent of MtF, but rather seeded a .torrent of the ISO of the DVD he ripped?

      What if he purchased the DVD after viewing the downloaded torrent? It's still an unauthorized distribution of a copyrighted work, even if it did end up resulting in a sale that benefits the Plaintiff... if they want to sue because to them the principle of control is more important than the short-term profit of a unit sale, who are we to question such prioritization?
      • by zakezuke (229119)
        Besides, with BitTorrent, you upload chunks of the torrent even as you download the file. What if he didn't download the .torrent of MtF, but rather seeded a .torrent of the ISO of the DVD he ripped?

        I could be wrong but I think it's possible to throttle your upstream to 0. Whether this will actually "work" on bittorrent is beyond me.

        I don't see how ownership of the original media serves as "proof" that he didn't download it.

        The claim is he didn't download it, he bought it. Why would you bother to download
      • by evilviper (135110)

        I don't see how ownership of the original media serves as "proof" that he didn't download it.

        It's not "proof", but it's certainly a nice bit of evidence to support his claim.

        Besides, you don't seem to realize that DOWNLOADING FROM A P2P NETWORK ISN'T ILLEGAL ON IT'S OWN... If he OWNED the movie already, and decided to download a BACKUP copy of it, HE HASN'T DONE ANYTHING ILLEGAL AT ALL.

        you upload chunks of the torrent even as you download the file.

        Good... Then let the MPAA just TRY to PROVE that someone w

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:11PM (#15779914)
        If I own the full DVD, why would I download a rip that is of reduced quality/content? I already have the whole thing. He doesn't have to prove anything, he just has to convince a jury that he's more right than the MPAA is. In this case, it means he has to cast enough doubt on their arguments that a jury finds they are without sufficient merit. Well, one of the ways is to show he owns a copy of the movie in question. A normal person is going to wonder why he'd download something he already owns.

        Remember this isn't a case of the MPAA having iron-clad proof and him having to find a technicality out of it. this is a case of the MPAA having exceedingly weak evidence, and him just having to provide a perponderance of counter evidence. He (or rather his lawyers) are going to do that by throwing out every thing that makes the MPAA's case look bad. They'll question the veracity of the logs, the credibility of the company that found this (the MPAA contracts it out) the reliability of the information from a BT tracker, the ISP's records, and so on. They'll do everything they can to make the jury doubt that he downloaded the movie and that includes pointing out the fact that he already owns a copy.

        Or rather, I should say they would if this ever goes to trial, which it won't. The worst thing in the world that could happen to the MPAA/RIAA with these shotgun lawsuit tactics is for someone to fight and win, espically in a high profile case. That establishes case law which establishes precident. Makes subsequent defenses much easier since people can just point back and say "Well the court found that the logs presented in case X were insufficient so the same thign should apply here." Courts have a lot of respect for case law.

        What will happen is the MPAA will talk tough while it's in the spotlight, and then once the public has forgotten, they'll drop the case.
      • by aqfire (885545)
        Your 'what-ifs' are interesting ideas... but according to him, he didn't download the movie. So, unless you can prove otherwise, I think he has a pretty valid case. Stating that he owns the DVD doesn't serve as proof that he didn't download it, but it seems to eliminate the incentive, don't you agree? Anyone with enough money to fight the MPAA's lawyers has enough money, and probably enough sense, to buy the DVD instead of downloading it.
        • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @08:30PM (#15780794) Homepage
          The claim that he already owns the DVD is a claim. It doesn't refute any evidence (if any) that the MPAA may have, though. If they have server logs from Hogan's ISP, or from some server he allegedly downloaded from, and those logs can be established as reliable, which is itself fairly doubtful, owning the DVD isn't going to do him a bit of good.

          One can certainly download a DVD that one also happens to own. If the police arrest me for auto theft, pointing out that I already own a car won't by itself get the prosecution off my back, especially if they have evidence that indicates that I may have allegedly stolen a car.

          The argument that taking any car that I happen to like and using it as my own ought to be the law of the land also is not going to work as a defense.

          Neither will the argument that cars are too damn expensive and car companies are greedy.

          I'm not a fan of copyright or of the MPAA, but beating them takes better arguments than this. Mr. Hogan may well get the case thrown out of court, and if he does more power to him, but even if he wins this case there's still a host of larger issues that will remain unaddressed.
  • Preferences (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spytap (143526) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:49PM (#15777909)
    I'd much rather him take on the RIAA as they seem to be the more aggressive of the two when it comes to extortion schemes. The MPAA, for all it's faults, doesn't seem to be as gleefully entertained by the prospect of suing the pants off of everyone.
  • Give 'em hell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 10100111001 (931992) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:51PM (#15777929)
    On behalf of the little guy everywhere... Give 'em hell, Shawn.
  • by Churla (936633) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:56PM (#15777989)
    Once he really shows some fight in him they will drop it and it will vanish.

    The more I see of their operations the more I think the MPAA and RIAA operate very much like local traffic cops. They want to give lots of tickets, and specifically to the people who will just pay the fines and move along. Then hoping that the "watch out, you could get a ticket" mentality will help them get the desired end result.

    On the other hand, if he effectively counter sues for defamation of character and/or some other damages done to him by their abusive litigation practices and sets a precedent for others it could open some doors. But then it's still up to others to get lawyers to do it. Make it where the counter suit is profitable enough and lawyers could start making money on the shark-like "we only get paid if you get paid" approach. But you have to put enough blood into the water to draw them out.
    • by defile (1059) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:05PM (#15778098) Homepage Journal

      On the other hand, if he effectively counter sues for defamation of character and/or some other damages done to him by their abusive litigation practices and sets a precedent for others it could open some doors.

      How do you even begin to quantify the damage done to his reputation? He's got Meet the Fockers on DVD! And now the whole world knows about it!

    • They want to give lots of tickets, and specifically to the people who will just pay the fines and move along. Then hoping that the "watch out, you could get a ticket" mentality will help them get the desired end result.

      I'd like it if this was the way it worked. If there was an affordable but annoying cost to piracy (say $50-100), and easy means for the industry to obtain it, and an easy way to appeal against it, then piracy would be discouraged, the media cartels would be able to fund their anti-piracy
  • Oops! (Score:5, Funny)

    by BarryLoper (928015) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:57PM (#15777998)
    Looks like they accidentaly picked on someone who's got some money. Don't you hate it when that happens?
  • by sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:58PM (#15778012)
    that say that the MPAA will just drop it and move on. I dont think you understand...this guy has the means and it only takes one like him to make the fight stick. I know that when a guy like this decides its worth MILLIONS of his own money hes pretty determined to see it through. I hope he c0ckpunches these a$$hats but good!
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @02:58PM (#15778013) Journal
    Unless the MPAA are 100% certain that they're going to win. They don't really believe that a pirated movie costs them $2500. They do know that these threats have a huge effect as a deterrent. If they lose the case, they'll lose the deterrent. If they drop the case (after costing Mr. Hogan a modest amount in legal costs), they'll retain the deterrent.

    In what way is it in the MPAA's interest to see this all the way to the court?
  • The defendent blogs (Score:5, Informative)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:01PM (#15778047)
    For anyone who wants to keep up with the story, Shawn Hogan is blogging the story at http://www.digitalpoint.com/~shawn/category/law/ [digitalpoint.com].
  • Standard of proof? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:07PM (#15778118)
    What is the standard of proof required in cases like these? Have any actually gone to trial? My understanding is that a British ISP basically told the European equivalent of the MPAA/RIAA to GTFO unless they could provide convincing evidence of the accused users downloading specific files at specific times. I've also heard that all the basically have is a screenshot of the "infringing content" along with a hash of some sort. That's not enough to convince me if I were a judge. The hash could be the result of a collision. On some of these networks you can try to download something called "ubuntu-5.10-intel.iso" and end up with an infringing copy of "Meet the Fokkers" because the filenames can be changed. If he had wifi, maybe his network got cracked. Maybe he was running a tor exit link. All of these establish plenty of doubt as to whether he actually deliberately downloaded anything.

    Go Shawn Hogan. Get these crooks to tell us "Where's the proof?"

  • by bberens (965711) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:08PM (#15778143)
    What if he loses?
    • by Secrity (742221) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:06PM (#15778714)
      I am not a lawyer and this is a civil case, not a criminal case. The MPAA does not have to "prove" their case, both sides present the facts as they know them to the judge or jury and the outcome is based upon "preponderance of evidence". The whole winner/loser can be a sliding scale. If the judge or jury rules in favor of the MPAA, he would have to pay whatever the judge or jury deems proper.

                      Of course the MPAA is going to try to show that they should be awarded beaucoup dollars -- an amount that is guaranteed to make normal people shit all over themselves. It is entirely possible that the jury could rule in the MPAA's favor and then award the MPAA one dollar. Even if the MPAA prevails, unless the MPAA were actually awarded a HUGE sum of money, it is hard to tell if the MPAA would gain any sort of pysychological or legal advantage in subsequent cases.
  • Attorney's fees (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LuminaireX (949185) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:17PM (#15778229)
    Although expecting to pay well over $100,000 to defend himself, he claims 'I would spend well into the millions on this.

    Is he kidding? If he wins he's obligated to seek reimbursement for his attorney's fees.

  • Give some support (Score:3, Informative)

    by viking2000 (954894) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @03:27PM (#15778326)
    Her is /.ers chance to put their money where their mouth is.
    You can:
    1. Buy their software here: http://www.digitalpoint.com/products/ [digitalpoint.com]
    2. Review and recommend their software.

    They sell: data wizard, home inspection, isp billing domain management and radius server.

    It should not be difficult to drive a few $millions in sales to them.

    Consider using this for your own networks:

    Name Stalker 1.2
    Tool for managing your domains and monitor domains that you want. For Macintosh and Windows

    or

    Men & Mice Products
    3 out of 4 DNS servers are incorrectly setup... find and fix problems with any DNS server. They carry Men & Mice's full line of DNS server and diagnostic tools. For Macintosh and Windows.

  • by windowpain (211052) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:02PM (#15778686) Journal
    If your native tongue is other than English, then ignore this. But if you're a native English speaker you should have proofread your piece before posting it. "Mr. Hogan both denies the charges as well as claims he already owns the movie on DVD." What you wrote says that Hogan denies that he owns the movie on DVD. The article says Hogan says he does own the movie on DVD. So you should have written something like "Mr. Hogan denies the charges and claims he already owns the movie on DVD."

    And please, save the "grammar Nazi" posts. If you can appreciate that writing clear code is worthwhile you should agree that expresssing yourself well in English is also worthwhile.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @04:21PM (#15778857)
    Fessing up to the RIAA claims: $2,500
    Fighting the suit: $100,000
    Good PR and being the hero of the DRM-free world:

    No, I'm not finishing this, I don't have the money to fight out the ensuing Mastercard law suit.
  • Men & Mice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @05:06PM (#15779338)
    I allways liked the DNS servers that his company sells. May have to see about getting a current copy for my office.

    Or wait, I used to have a license. So I can just bittorrent a new copy, right? Kidding of course.

  • by cwsulliv (522390) * <cwsulliv@triad.rr.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @06:58PM (#15780286)
    My understanding of BitTorrent is that different chunks of a download are routed to and temporarily stored for retransmission on the PCs of a number of individuals who have BitTorrent software running, but with each chunk being encrypted so that an individual has no idea of what's passing through his/her PC.

    It would certainly seem that the MPAA would view BitTorrent as a major threat that needs to be cut off at the knees in its infancy.

    Could it then be that Hogan's PC was just one of the first in line to the source of the movie, a PC operated by one of the MPAA's stooges, and that the MPAA is trying to establish a legal principle that any participant in a BitTorrent network is guilty of contributory infringement if any chunk of a copyrighted work happens to pass through their PC on its way to the ultimate destination? I.e., that BitTorrent is not the same as a Common Carrier - that participants are responsible for infringement even if they're unaware of it and have no way of becoming aware of it?

    If so, then to establish that legal principle they'd have to pick on an individual who was willing and able to defend himself through an expensive court case to its conclusion.

    But then this may all be unwarranted speculation and the MPAA just happened to pick on the wrong guy. I guess time will tell.

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