On IMDb, The Expendibles has a rating of 6.7 out of 10, based on over 79,000 people rating the movie. It is certainly not one of the more popular movies to be released in 2010, but that does not mean that nobody watched it. In fact, a lot of people viewed the movie after its time in the theaters. At least 23,000 of whom are being accused of illegally downloading the movie and may have to pony up a lot more money than if they had legally rented the action thriller.
As it currently stands, the lawsuit filed by the United States Copyright Group (USCG) on behalf of Nu Image (the studio that released The Expendibles) is the largest file-sharing copyright infringement lawsuit based on the number of defendants (23,322). Defendants who clearly downloaded the movie illegally have no incentive to spend time and money answering a Complaint and fighting a battle that they will end up losing in court. Instead, those Defendants will likely settle with the studio out of court for roughly $2,000 a piece, which is over 200 times the amount that one would have paid to legally rent the movie.
Studios will use this type of filing as a deterrent against future potential infringers. Nu Image has the same motivation for litigating in addition to the likelihood that the studio earns millions of dollars to make up for profits it supposedly has lost through copyright infringement.
Even if studios do not believe that public lawsuits will serve as any effective deterrent against illegal downloading of movies, this trend towards litigation will only continue as the government begins to allow the subpoenaing of internet service providers so that potential plaintiffs can discover the personal details of IP addresses associated with the illegal downloading. Studios will see this as a new method of revenue generation. Scaling settlements will pay for their legal costs and make them a hefty sum of money. Following through with litigation against obvious infringers will net the studios even more money (if those infringers have any money to pay).
Named Defendants who do not believe that they have done anything wrong should find legal counsel as soon as possible, though. It is likely that some people who never illegally downloaded the movie will receive a settlement offer in the mail and not understand what they did that was wrong. In that case, it is worth it to find a competent lawyer to fight against the Plaintiff’s allegations.