Good News for 23,322 Alleged Expendables Downloaders

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For a short while the makers of The Expendables had the questionable honor of having started the biggest file-sharing lawsuit the world has ever witnessed.

A massive list of 23,322 U.S. Internet users were targeted by the film studio NU Image, all suspected of downloading the Hollywood blockbuster on BitTorrent.

Although the makers of The Hurt Locker recently targeted an even bigger group, The Expendables case is still very significant. However, this may soon change due to a recent order from Judge Robert Wilkins.

expendablesIt appears that the Judge, who previously granted the copyright holders to send subpoenas to obtain the personal information of the defendants, is starting to backpedal.

Apparently, the lawyers haven’t sent out a single subpoena as of yet, and the Judge is growing impatient.

“…over two months later, Plaintiff has informed the Court that not a single subpoena has been served in this case. The Court finds this especially surprising given the fact that one of Plaintiff’s stated reasons for “good cause” for the expedited discovery was that the ISPs typically retain the information that Plaintiff seeks for only a limited period of time, and if this information is erased, Plaintiff will be unable to pursue its lawsuit.”

Wilkins feels that his time is wasted as and wants the plaintiffs to now show whether the court has jurisdiction over the defendants, and if it’s appropriate to join these thousands of alleged downloaders in one lawsuit.

“The Court finds it inappropriate and a waste of scarce judicial resources to allow and oversee discovery on claims or relating to defendants that cannot be prosecuted in this lawsuit. If venue is improper in this district, the Court must either dismiss the case or transfer it to a court in which venue is proper.”

Slyck has more on the story.

The Expendables makers have until June 21 to resolve these issues, and if they don’t the case may very well be binned.

The big question is of course why no subpoenas have been sent out yet. In other cases handled by the same lawyers this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Perhaps something’s going on behind the scenes that has to be resolved first?

ARS quotes Colorado lawyer David Kerr who has his own theory on the issue, claiming that there’s more money to be made in porn cases.

“the settlement rate for porn films is about 80 percent, whereas for legitimate films it is usually less then 50 percent. Plus, all settlements for porn films are usually several hundred to thousand dollars more than for legit films. You can go to the public docket and see that all of Dunlap’s [the lawyer group] other cases besides the porn films are totally dead.”

However, this makes little sense, as targeting 23,322 defendants in a mainstream case would still be more profitable than a few hundred in a porn case.

Whatever the true reason is, so far it’s good news for the 23,322 alleged expendables downloaders.

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