Other comments took that defense a bit more seriously, pointing out that "I own the DVD already!" is no ironclad defense against claims of copyright infringement. Junior J. Junior III, for instance, wrote
No wonder he doesn't want to admit to downloading it, that movie sucked! I bet he doesn't even have the DVD.
In response to the desire evident in some comments to see a trial take place and (perhaps) cast doubt on the MPAA's aggressive tactics, reader BigNumber predicts that this is "not gonna happen," writing:
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?
Reader Elsimer points out that the odds that Hogan will get a day in court against the MPAA are better than for most people; he has money and determination, as demonstrated in the Zeropaid interview with Hogan from which Elsimer quotes, in which Hogan says
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.
Despite Hogan's personal resources, eldavojohn was one of several who said they'd like to contribute to his cause, writing
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. ... 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.
Reader toad3k points out that Hogan is "not exactly hiding," and points out the location of Hogan's blog. eldavojohn responded in the same thread to the idea that such support might be "a little misplaced," writing
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 open source 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.
I'm not going to support the person who just pays the obscene fine because they want to avoid the trial and lawyers. I want to support this guy if he's willing to bring the lawyers and cast doubt on the MPAA.
Several readers predicted that the MPAA would hastily drop legal action against such a determined opponent (TheSpoom's was typical: "My guess: They'll drop the suit against this guy, but continue to threaten those that don't have the means to fight back. ), but as milamber3 points out, according to the article
Reader Danse is skeptical:
The head of their anti-piracy division is openly saying they're looking forward to a trial and verdict next summer.
To this, reader TechForensics says
That's what they're saying now. Give it a couple months. They'll probably drop it quietly after everyone has forgotten about it.
Several readers' comments focused on the question of how those who aren't ready to pay the cost of a lawsuit but who would like to contest the MPAA's legal case against them, and many of these comments speculate on the viability of a pre se (self-representation) defense; as embodied in voice_of_all_reason's comment that "[w]ith a reasonable amount of study on basic law, it shouldn't be that hard at all." Reader schnell disagrees, and offers a few pointed analogies:
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.
Also on the legal front, Squalish makes an important distinction:
Describing an intellectual property civil lawsuit against people with law degrees and years of experience like this may just be a little cavalier. Let's try a little substitution here and see how it sounds:
- No, I meant fix your transmission yourself. With a reasonable amount of study on basic automotive engineering, it shouldn't be that hard at all.
- No, I meant perform a root canal on yourself. With a reasonable amount of study ovn basic orthodontics, some local anesthesia and a mirror, it shouldn't be that hard at all.
Finally and usefully, reader shotfeel offers an informative link for those interested in this as well as other MPAA-related cases:
They're filing civil lawsuits, which are a different legal category than crimes here in the U.S. One key: Civil law goes on preponderance (51% convinced = hold the defendant liable), so a mere 'reasonable doubt' that you were using your computer is not a defense. They just have to convince a judge that you probably were, rather than proving it.
Thanks to everyone whose comments informed this discussion, especially the readers whose comments are quoted above.