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‘Expendables’ downloaders targeted

Nu Image, Copyright Group seek damages for piracy

Nu Image is seeking to identify more than 23,000 individual BitTorrent users so the company can notify them that they are being sued for illegally downloading copies of actioner “The Expendables.”

The suits are being filed by the U.S. Copyright Group, run by the Virginia law firm of Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver to represent producers seeking damages for illegal downloads of their titles.

The U.S. Copyright Group has pursued litigation against thousands of users who downloaded “The Hurt Locker,” among other films, but it has expressed a willingness to dismiss hundreds of potential suits as the litigation has generated a morass of jurisdictional and procedural issues.

Nevertheless, Nu Image has forged ahead with its claims, and in March, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins granted the company’s motion to subpoena Internet service providers to obtain the identities of those who illegally downloaded “The Expendables.” When Nu Image filed its suit, it listed as defendants “John Does” with a listing of 23,322 IP addresses it alleges were used to obtain the movie.

Wired magazine calls the effort the “single largest illegal-BitTorrent-downloading case in U.S. history,” and it’s one bound to cause considerable blowback as users are informed of the claims against them.

The Copyright Group has offered a way for those targeted in the suit to settle the cases online for several thousand dollars — a hefty sum but still far less than the maximum $150,000-per-infringment allowed under the law. But the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group that has long accused Hollywood of being heavy-handed in its efforts to restrict piracy, has set up an information webpage for those who have received notices from their ISPs that they are defendants in the suit.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America is not a party to the action. With the controversy involved in suing the mass of users seeking their content illegally, the MPAA has instead adopted a strategy of seeking the sources of widespread piracy.

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