After being honored with an Oscar for Best Motion Picture in 2010, the makers of The Hurt Locker went on to sue thousands of people who allegedly shared the film online.
Movie studio Voltage Pictures was not only one of the first studios to sue BitTorrent downloaders in the US, it also secured the award for the biggest mass-BitTorrent lawsuit by listing 24,583 alleged infringers at once.
This case dragged on for nearly two years and after collecting an undisclosed number of settlements it was eventually closed last December. It remains unknown how profitable the lawsuit was for the movie studio, but since they haven’t given up on the scheme yet we assume that it wasn’t a financial debacle.
Last week the studio filed a brand new lawsuit in Florida against 2,514 John Doe defendants, who are all accused of downloading The Hurt Locker.
Through this lawsuit the studio wants to obtain a subpoena so they can order ISPs to reveal the identities of the alleged downloaders. These account holders will then receive a settlement offer that generally lies around $3,000, which means that the Hurt Locker makes can receive over 6 million dollars in damages.
While the complaint filed at a federal court in Florida is pretty standard, there are a few details that stand out when we look at the list of sued IP-addresses.
Firstly, all the defendants downloaded the film in 2010. This means that the movie studio has waited two years before filing a lawsuit against the alleged copyright infringers. On top of that, we see that all the 2,514 defendants are subscribers of the same Internet provider, Charter Communications.
It could be that the points above are related. For example, Voltage Pictures may know that Charter keeps IP-address records for more than two years while other ISPs don’t. Another reason for targeting Charter subscribers could be that the movie studio knows that the ISP is not going to object to handing over bulk subscriber details.
Whatever the case, this new lawsuit is worth keeping an eye on.
While The Hurt Locker is a prominent name, this mass-lawsuit is just one of many being filed every week. In total more than 250,000 alleged BitTorrent users have been targeted in the United States and this number continues to increase.
While most of the plaintiffs are adult film studios, more reputable brands such as the major book publisher Wiley & Sons have joined in as well. And last week the first game publisher filed a lawsuit as “Airbus X” makers Aerosoft GmbH targeted 50 downloaders.
Depending on the success of the current cases, the BitTorrent lawsuits may continue for years. Thus far there is no indication that the end is in sight.