At least 23,000 file sharers soon will likely get notified they are being sued for downloading the Expendables in what has become the single largest illegal-BitTorrent-downloading case in U.S. histor, says Wired.
A federal judge in the case has agreed to allow the U.S. Copyright Group to subpoena internet service providers to find out the identity of everybody who had illegally downloaded the 2010 Sylvester Stallone flick — meaning the number of defendants is likely to dramatically increase as new purloiners are discovered. Once an ISP gets the subpoena, it usually notifies the account holder that his or her subscriber information is being turned over to the Copyright Group, which last year pioneered the practice of suing BitTorrent downloaders in the United States.
Subpoenas are expected to go out this week.
All told, more than 140,000 BitTorrent downloaders are being targeted in dozens of lawsuits across the country, many of them for downloading B-rated movies and porn.
Many lawyers are mimicking the Copyright Group’s legal strategy, which includes offering online settlement payments, in hopes of making quick cash. The litigation can be so lucrative — with settlements around $3,000 per infringement — that two companies are both claiming ownership to a low-budget movie called Nude Nuns with Big Guns, and both firms are suing the same downloaders.
Not all federal judges, are agreeing to allow a massive number of subpoenas in a single case, but many are. The U.S. Copyright Act allows damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, and the cases all demand the maximum.
“It is well beyond time that the courts take control of these automated enterprises being run at great taxpayer expense with the active assistance of the federal court system,” said Lory Lybeck, a Washington state attorney defending about 100 BitTorrent defendants.
The IP addresses of the alleged copyright scofflaws are easily discoverable. Film companies pay snoops to troll BitTorrent sites, dip into active torrents and capture the IP addresses of the peers who are downloading and uploading pieces of the files.
The closest single lawsuit in size to the Expendables case targets 15,551 BitTorrent users for downloading a handful of porn flicks with titles such as Big Dick Glory Holes and Spin on My Cock. A judge has not decided whether to authorize subpoenas in that case.