Hollywood lawyers demand alleged pirate take lie detector, change their minds when he agrees

Hollywood lawyers demand alleged pirate take lie detector, change their minds when he agrees

By Ryan Whitwam May. 19, 2016

Hollywood lawyers demand alleged pirate take lie detector, change their minds when he agrees

Faced with the never-ending game of whack-a-mole that is the battle against torrent sites, some copyright holders started taking a different approach a few years back. Instead of suing the torrent sites, they sued huge batches of IP addresses that pirated the content in hopes of extracting a settlement. That’s what Michael Amhari is dealing with in his ongoing battle with the owners of 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club. The filmmakers suggested he take a lie detector, then they decided that wasn’t such a good idea.

These cases usually progress in the same basic way. A copyright holder files an infringement case against dozens or hundreds of IP addresses that were spotted in a torrent swarm pirating the owner’s content. These are just numbers, though. To turn them into people (with bank accounts attached), they need to subpoena ISPs. Sometimes this is successful, and sometimes not. The owners of Dallas Buyers Club have been able to get some names, and that lets them start demanding settlements. Apparently, many people just pay up to avoid a lawsuit that will probably never happen.

Amhari, however, rejected the $10,000 settlement offer, saying he never pirated the movie. He’s gotten a lawyer and started making life miserable for Dallas Buyers Club lawyers. Getting a settlement in these cases relies on intimidation, but I guess Amhari doesn’t scare so easily. The rights-holder demanded a lie detector test, and said the case would be dropped if he passed. Amhari agreed.

The accuracy of lie detectors is known to be poor. The results aren’t admissible in court, and there are various techniques to “beat” them. The only reason you’d demand one in a case like this is to scare someone. When Amhari agreed, the other side quickly withdrew the request. Amhari’s lawyer is now using this as ammunition to get the case thrown out, calling the filmmakers “malicious.” The court hasn’t ruled on the case yet, but it’s not looking great for the plaintiffs.

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