Millenium Funding, Bodyguard Productions, and LHF Productions — the movie companies behind films like The Expendables, Olympus Has Fallen, and The Hitman’s Bodyguard — have filed a lawsuit against the lawyer who represented them in past copyright infringement cases.
The lawsuit, obtained by Torrent Freak, names Attorney Michael Hierl and his law firm as the defendants. The movie companies allege that Hierl and his firm failed to pay the movie companies the full amount of settlement money collected from BitTorrent pirates. The companies believe they’re owed $130,000 in collected settlements.
The lawsuit provides a glimpse at the far-reaching effects of piracy operations and takedowns. The pervasive issue of illegal content-viewing and lack of permanent prevention is often the main focus, but behind the scenes, according to Torrent Freak, lies an “industrial-scale settlement operation.”
Since 2012, Millennium reportedly worked with an unnamed “prior agent” and Hierl’s law firm to identify pirates based on their IP addresses and pursue legal action from there. Torrent Freak said Hierl’s firm was authorized to take a percentage of the settlement amount prior to sending the balance to Millennium’s agent.
In 2019, the company took on a new agent and reportedly told the law firm about the change in 2020. Millennium alleges that they began detecting information discrepancies the following year — the law firm was collecting their fee, but not paying the movie companies.
Hierl reportedly denied the allegations in 2021.
In 2023 alone, there have been dozens of crackdowns on illegal IPTV services. Entertainment companies and government agencies around the world continue to wage war against piracy operations. But, as the world continues to digitize, it’s unlikely we’ll see a future completely free of piracy.