Voltage Pictures, producers behind The Hurt Locker
, filed a lawsuit against illegal fire sharers (such as by BitTorrent) of the movie through the Internet.
The film won six Oscars, including Best Picture, but earned only $17 million at the US box office, making it one of the least commercially successful winners of the top prize in the modern era.
Voltage Pictures is seeking $1,500 from each defendant in order to settle the suit, making it one of the biggest lawsuits against individuals in history. The suit warns people named that a failure to settle will result in the case being taken to court, where the plaintiffs will seek 10 times that amount. An official list of offenders has not been given to Voltage Pictures, but they do have the IP addresses of the accused.
The U.S. Copyright Group has used similar tactics in the past against smaller indie film piracy. They request IP addresses from ISPs to identify culprits, and they demand that they pay up for the downloaded content. In the vast majority of cases, the users settled and paid for the content. The makers of the content recoup their losses from piracy, but they only make 30% off each settlement. The U.S. copyright group keeps the other 70%. Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer with the U.S. Copyright Group said that 75% of ISPs have already cooperated with them in giving up identifying information.
The lawsuit is expected to go into effect this week.