Copyright Cyberspace Headline Intellectual Property

Makers of Hurt Locker Suing Over 24,000 Illegal Downloaders

Last week, I wrote about a lawsuit filed by the United States Copyright Group (USCG) on behalf of Nu Image regarding the supposed illegal downloading of Nu Image’s The Expendables movie.  At the time, the lawsuit was the largest file-sharing copyright infringement lawsuit based on the number of defendants (23,322).  That record did not last for long.  This week, The Expendables were beat out by Hurt Locker, and it had nothing to do with box office receipts.

Voltage Pictures (the makers of Hurt Locker), is suing 24,583 people for file-sharing copyright infringement regarding its movie.  I will do the math for you; that is 1,261 more defendants than named in The Expendables lawsuit.

All of these illegal movie download copyright infringement cases seem to be premised on the end-user’s usage of BitTorrent to download the movies.  A variety of internet service providers (ISPs) are being subpoenaed and are likely being asked to provide the name, address, and activity log of the users attached to specific IP addresses associated with the illegal downloading.  But finding this information takes quite some time for each ISP, and when over 20,000 IP addresses need to be looked up, these movie studios could be waiting a while before they receive any valuable information.

Further, if studios continue to follow one another and sue over 20,000 downloaders a pop, what will be the result?  If alleged infringers have the option of settling for $2,000 – $3,000 and these infringers are downloading multiple movies, do they settle or fight in litigation?  Either way, the money will add up, and either go to the studios and/or the alleged infringers’ attorneys.  The studios seem to be banking on the idea that most people will end up settling based on the fear of going to court and having to pay much more after a disfavorable verdict.  But some alleged infringers will fight in court.  I am greatly interested in the results of those fights.