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Update: Batman Is Going After All the Torrenters; “F* * * ‘Em All” Says Axel Braun

from www.news.cnet.com – In a move that is sure to outrage those who trade files on BitTorrent networks as well as legal watchdog groups, a well-known pornographer has filed a federal copyright suit against 7,098 individuals.

Axel Braun Productions filed the complaint on Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, alleging that the defendants illegally shared the adult film “Batman XXX: A Porn Parody,” a film distributed by Vivid Entertainment, one of the country’s best known porn studios.

In an interview about the suit with Xbiz Newswire, a publication that follows the adult-film industry, Axel Braun made it clear he’s prepared to take on the file-sharing crowd.

“F*** ’em all,” Braun told Xbiz. “People don’t realize that when you pirate a movie it hurts all of the people who work very hard to get it produced — from the cast to the production assistants to the makeup artists…So we are going after every one of them who pirates our content.”

All the tough talk notwithstanding, the number of defendants named in a single lawsuit is sure to be condemned by leaders at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the advocacy group for Web users and tech companies. Leaders there have taken a stand against the lumping together of thousands of separate defendants into a single complaint.

In an interview two weeks ago, Cindy Cohn, EFF’s legal director, told CNET: “If you lump a bunch of people together, it’s harder for each individual to have their case heard and evaluated on the merits.”

The law firm of Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, resurrected the practice of suing individuals for copyright violations. The firm began filing complaints early this year on behalf of independent film studios, including Voltage Pictures, the production company that made the Academy Award winning film, “The Hurt Locker.”

The music industry undertook a similar campaign from 2003 to 2008.

Several lawyers, including Ken Ford, who is representing Braun in the “Batman” case, have adopted a similar strategy as Dunlap’s and have filed suits on behalf of adult-film makers, such as Third World Media and Larry Flynt, the founder of Hustler.

Up to now, attorneys following the Dunlap method start the process by gathering Internet protocol addresses belonging to people who allegedly share movie files. They file a complaint in federal naming the defendants as “John Does.” A request is made of the court to issue subpoenas to each of the Doe’s Internet service provider to obtain each of the accused person’s name and other information. Then they offer those accused a chance to settle out of court.

If a person refuses to settle then conceivably, the attorneys representing the copyright owners will sue, although that has yet to happen. Cohn and other critics of this approach say they doubt the attorneys will want to spend the money on potentially drawn out litigation. Ford told CNET last month that he isn’t bluffing and will sue.

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