Just two weeks ago, a lawsuit targeting the Sylvester Stallone action flick The Expendables set the record for largest file-sharing suit ever. It targeted roughly 23,000 BitTorrent users who downloaded the movie between February and March of this year. That record has already been broken.
Last year Voltage Pictures, makers of the Academy-award-winning The Hurt Locker, joined up with U.S. Copyright Group to sue 5,000 file sharers. Now, according to documents obtained by TorrentFreak, they have expanded the scope of their lawsuit to now include 24,583 BitTorrent users.
The modus operandi, per say, of the U.S. Copyright Group involves targeting a large number of said "infringers," hitting them with enormous punitive figures, and offering them smaller settlements. Hopefully some bite.
The Expendables case was a substantial case not only for the large volume of accused persons, but because of the ruling the judge made regarding the subpoena of ISPs. Just a week before The Expendables case, a judge ruled in another case that IP addresses do not equal people. A Canadian porn producer wanted the right to subpoena ISPs for the names of the IP address they had procured while digging for "copyright infringers." THe judge denied this request.
But the judge in The Expendables case made the exact opposite ruling, allowing U.S. Copyright group to move forward with the ISP subpoenas.
It seems that not everyone is on the same page.
A little more on those documents:
In a status report obtained by TorrentFreak, Voltage Pictures lawyers give the U.S. District Court of Columbia an overview of the massive list of alleged BitTorrent downloaders they filed complaints against. This report reveals that most defendants are subscribers of Comcast (10,532), followed by Verizon (5,239), Charter (2,699) and Time Warner (1,750).
The report also provides details on the agreements the lawyers have struck with various ISPs regarding the release of subscribers’ personal information. There is currently no agreement with Comcast, while Charter has promised to look up 150 IP-addresses a month and Verizon 100 a month for all ongoing BitTorrent lawsuits.
100 a month? So this could drag on for eternity, then?
Who knows? It is rarely the goal of the plaintiffs in these cases to actually pull a BitTorrent user into court. But small settlements that are paid to call off the litigation dogs can add up. As TorrentFreak points out, if just 10,000 of the 25,000 defendants settle for $2,000 or so, that could bring in a settlement that totals more than The Hurt Locker grossed at the U.S. box office.