A Pro Bono Video Piracy Defender

CNET News media reporter Greg Sandoval has an intriguing profile today of Robert Talbot, a University of San Francisco law professor and attorney working with individuals accused of video piracy. Thanks largely to free student labor, Talbot’s Internet Justice Clinic is able to offer its services at no charge to several dozen defendants.

Writes Sandoval:

Talbot said he doesn’t believe innocent people should have to pay a dime. He says some who have contacted him have open Wi-Fi connections and don’t know who in the neighborhood may have shared the movies. Others suspect the films were shared by a visiting relative or guest.

Intriguingly, Talbot’s video piracy clients are battling independent film companies rather than the Hollywood studio behemoths. One file-sharing title in question is 2009 Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, made by a group of production companies including Voltage Pictures, Grovesnor Park Media and Summit Entertainment.

The good news is that Sandoval recently determined while working on a related CNET story that video piracy plaintiffs have been willing to settle cases for as low as $1,000. Certainly not pocket change, but when you figure that this would be the equivalent of just a few hours’ legal counsel if Talbot was charging for his services, it adds up to a reasonable potential outcome for any of the prof’s alleged Bay Area pirates.