We have a new winner in the race to make movie fans give up on Hollywood altogether. The producers of Oscar award-winning film Hurt Locker have now sued a record-breaking 24,583 people for allegedly illegally downloading the movie over a peer-to-peer filesharing network, reports Torrent Freak. Voltage Pictures hopes to recover millions of dollars in damages from the defendants for money lost due to piracy.
This lawsuit, headed by Washington, DC-based law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, just barely beats the last biggest-ever BitTorrent lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month (also by Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver) on behalf of the makers of Sylvester Stallone action flick the Expendables. That suit took aim at 23,322. To be fair, however, a judge has issued a subpoena to Internet service providers, at the request of the US Copyright Group — the corporation created by Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, along with filmmakers, whose entire purpose is to shakedown P2P downloaders — requiring that they turn over the identities of anyone who downloaded Stallone’s campy blockbuster. So the number of defendants in that suit is sure to rise, and could fairly easily knock the Hurt Locker suit off its shiny gold pedestal.
Filed this time last year, the Hurt Locker lawsuit originally targeted 5,000 BitTorrent users. But as IP addresses were revealed, that number skyrocketed nearly five-fold. Of the dastardly downloaders on the chopping block 10,532 subscribe to Comcast, 5,239 to Verizon, 2,699 to Charter and only 1,750 to Time Warner.
Because of the sheer number, this lawsuit will certainly take a long time to follow through. Especially because two of the ISPs, Charter and Verizon, have so far only agreed to cough up 100 and 150 customer IP addresses a month, respectively. Comcast hasn’t yet agreed to give up any user information whatsoever.
This kind of mass-targeted lawsuits can yield lucrative results. As Torrent Freak points out, if even half of the defendants eventually pay a $2,000 settlement, the endeavor would generate about $25 million dollars — far more than the $17 million the Hurt Locker made at the box office.
Whether not the lawsuit is allowed to proceed is now in the hands of Judge Beryl Howell, a former RIAA lobbyist and someone not known for siding with possible copyright infringers. In other words, defendants, don’t get your hopes up.
To view a full list of the targeted IP addresses, click here.