98% of BitTorrent Users In Copyright Shakedown Filed in Wrong Jurisdiction

After a major copyright settlement case featuring The Expendables was found to be fatally flawed last month, United States Copyright Group and client Nu Image dropped the case. Now, sidestepping an uncooperative judge in Columbia, the team are hoping to get more joy from one of his counterparts in Maryland, but they still haven't learned their lesson. Tests by TorrentFreak reveal that 98% of 4,165 potential defendants in the case are being sued in the wrong jurisdiction.

For more than a year, Dunlap Grubb & Weaver – aka the United States Copyright Group (USCG) – have sued tens of thousands of individuals who allegedly shared films using BitTorrent. Their aim: to extract cash settlements in order to make supposed lawsuits go away.

According to papers just filed, USCG will again partner with The Expendables creator Nu Image to chase down yet more BitTorrent users, this time those who allegedly obtained and distributed the Jason Statham movie The Mechanic.

The filing lists 4,165 IP addresses that were allegedly making the movie available between July 1st and August 8th this year. The number of ISPs targeted is small – Charter, Comcast, Cox, RCN and Windstream. Absent are Verizon and Time Warner, ISPs that have previously put limits on their levels of cooperation in these cases.

In recent months USCG have suffered major setbacks when submitted IP addresses were found to be located in the wrong jurisdictions, but you wouldn’t guess it from confident statements in their most recent filing.

“Although the true identity of each Defendant is unknown to the Plaintiff at this time, on information and belief, each Defendant may be found in this District and/or a substantial part of the acts of infringement complained of herein occurred in this District,” it reads.

Yet, in tests carried out by TorrentFreak, we discovered that of 4,165 IP addresses filed, just 2% can be traced back to the correct jurisdiction, in this case Maryland. The biggest group, 13.1%, are IP addresses in California. Columbia represent just 0.4% of the total.

This problem over jurisdiction is nothing new. In August, USCG and Nu Image voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit targeting 23,322 U.S. Internet users who allegedly shared The Expendables.

The suit, at one time the biggest ever of its type, was crippled when District Court Judge Robert Wilkins decided that Nu Image could only go after those individuals who were reasonably likely to be living in the District of Columbia, the district where the suit was filed. In that case, 99% of the IP addresses filed were out of jurisdiction.

With Judge Wilkins ruling unfavorably, shortly after USCG also dumped their lawsuit filed on behalf of Cinetel Films, the makers of the horror flick “I Spit on Your Grave”, which listed 1,951 BitTorrent users as defendants. That too had been filed in Columbia.

USCG have now chosen the District of Maryland to file the papers for The Mechanic’s settlement shakedown. Time will tell what the presiding judge there will have to say on the issue of jurisdiction, but if he or she has had an eye on the cases in Columbia, our findings above – that 98% of IP addresses relate to the wrong district – should prove of great interest.

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