Last week, Voltage Pictures announced it was partnering with the U.S. Copyright Group to sue thousands of individual users who illegally downloaded The Hurt Locker from BitTorrent. The U.S.C.G. was already going after people who'd pirated things like Uwe Boll's Far Cry, but eh, nobody cared. Now that the Oscar-winning Hurt Locker is involved, though, suddenly people are interested.
Some movie fans are upset by this tactic. Why bankrupt the individual users rather than cutting off the piracy at the source? Surely these people have seen cop movies before. You're supposed to disregard the small-time petty criminals and go for the big fish, the kingpins. The RIAA has done the same thing with MP3 thieves, doggedly pursuing people who may have illegally downloaded one song, and to what end? Mostly just bad P.R. for the music industry, although that's partly because the RIAA keeps making mistakes and suing innocent people.
Nonetheless, since it's illegal to download a movie this way, and since Voltage Pictures owns the copyright to its film, it's well within its rights to sue the people who have done it. Boing Boing reports that one of the site's readers, a Canadian fellow named Nicholas, e-mailed Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier to express disapproval of the heavy-handed tactics, and Chartier responded in his usual fashion: with grade-school-level sarcasm and insults.
Canadian Nicholas' e-mail to Chartier was polite. He told Chartier, in part:
See? Very courteous, as is the way of the Canadians. Totally misguided and hyperbolic, but well-mannered. It doesn't matter if the people who downloaded The Hurt Locker didn't intend to make any money from it. They're still not allowed to, and doing that instead of going through regular channels to see the film takes money out of the pockets of the copyright holders.I wish to register my disagreement with these tactics, and would like you to know that as a result of these actions I am boycotting your films. The majority of people you are suing were not seeking to make money from their downloads, and will be financially devastated by a lawsuit or settlement. While it is completely understandable that Voltage Pictures wishes to defend its intellectual property, this is an inhumane way of doing it.
Also, what kind of idiot e-mails a movie producer to tell him he's not going to watch his movies unless the producer stops persecuting the people who steal them?
Nicolas Chartier, who is French -- I'm not saying that's why he's rude and hotheaded, I'm just saying he happens to be French, that's all -- responded rudely and hotheadedly, the way French people always do:
As they say in France, OH ÇNAP! And yet I'm torn. Chartier is mostly right -- but he's also an unprofessional and barely coherent loudmouth. Look, if you're going to get THIS angry at everyone who pirated your movie, your heart is going to explode before all the lawsuits have been filed. (I don't know if Canadian Nicholas pirated The Hurt Locker himself. I only know that he doesn't think the people who did should be sued.)Hi Nicholas, please feel free to leave your house open every time you go out and please tell your family to do so, please invite people in the streets to come in and take things from you, not to make money out of it by reselling it but just to use it for themselves and help themselves. If you think it's normal they take my work for free, I'm sure you will give away all your furniture and possessions and your family will do the same. I can also send you my bank account information since apparently you work for free and your family too so since you have so much money you should give it away... I actually like to pay my employees, my family, my bank for their work and like to get paid for my work. I'm glad you're a moron who believes stealing is right. I hope your family and your kids end up in jail one day for stealing so maybe they can be taught the difference. Until then, keep being stupid, you're doing that very well. And please do not download, rent, or pay for my movies, I actually like smart and more important HONEST people to watch my films.
The Hurt Locker was a terrific film. In my opinion, it deserves most of the acclaim it's gotten. I hope more people see it. But Chartier: be quiet. You're not helping.