“Killer Joe” Sues VPN-Using BitTorrent Pirates

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With a budget of $10 million and under $2 million in domestic grosses, the movie "Killer Joe" didn't provide the box office successes its makers had hoped for. To make up for disappointing sales, movie studio "Killer Joe Nevada" is now turning to alleged BitTorrent users. The company sued a few dozen people at a federal court in Delaware this week, and aside from subscribers of residential ISPs their list of defendants also includes VPN users.

killer-joeMovie studio Voltage is no stranger to suing BitTorrent users.

The company has pioneered mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the United States and is estimated to have made a lot of money doing so.

This week another Voltage movie landed in court, with a series of lawsuits filed under the flag of “Killer Joe Nevada LLC” for the black comedy crime movie Killer Joe.

The film in question grossed disappointing box office earnings, but these fresh lawsuits offer new revenue potential.

On the surface the suits don’t seem to bring much new to the table. The complaints, filed at the Delaware District Court, are pretty standard and describe how a handful of defendants are responsible for distributing the movie all across the world without permission.

“Thus, a Defendant’s distribution of even one unlawful copy of a motion picture can result in the nearly instantaneous worldwide distribution of that single copy to a limitless number of people. The Plaintiff now seeks redress for this rampant infringement of its exclusive rights,” the complaints read.

The purpose of the lawsuits is to reveal the identities of the file-sharers who are only known by their IP-addresses, so they can be encouraged to settle. To accomplish this the movie studio asked the court to grant a subpoena so they can order associated ISPs to give up their customers’ details.

Usually the list of ISPs is limited to residential Internet providers, but in the Killer Joe suits we see also see several IPs that belong to hosting provider Leaseweb. These IPs could run a seedbox for example, but a few of them trace back to privacy boasting VPN service SpotFlux.

The question rising now is how private these seedboxes or SpotFlux users really are. VPNs and seedboxes are often advertised as anonymous ways to download, but when the hosting company or VPN provider keeps logs that can link an IP to a user there is not much privacy left.

TorrentFreak asked both Leaseweb and SpotFlux what kind of information they will be able to share when the subpoena comes in, but we have yet to receive a response. In its privacy policy Spotflux explains that it will comply with court orders, but that the company keeps logs to a minimum.

Why the movie company is targeting VPN and other Leaseweb IP-addresses is a mystery. Conspiratorial thinkers may suggest that they want to crush people’s privacy, but the more likely explanation is that they didn’t bother to examine who owns the IPs.

After all, the true purpose of these lawsuits is to get the personal details of infringers with the least possible effort.

IP-addresses from one of the Killer Joe mass-lawsuits


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