“Hurt Locker” Producers to Sue “Tens of Thousands” of File-Sharers

“Hurt Locker” Producers to Sue “Tens of Thousands” of File-Sharers

Enlists help of the US Copyright Group, the organization that announced plans to sue 20,000 BitTorrent users this past March, and which says it plans to file the copyright infringement lawsuits sometime this week.

According to reports, the US Copyright Group, a DC-based venture combining the efforts of technology companies and a conglomeration of intellectual property law firms, is gearing up to sue “tens of thousands” of BitTorrent users who illegally shared copies of the Academy Award-winning movie “The Hurt Locker” online.

It’s the same outfit that announced plans this past March to target more than 20,000 BitTorrent users for illegally distributing the indie movies “Steam Experiment,” “Far Cry,” “Uncross the Stars,” “Gray Man,” or “Call of the Wild 3D” among others.

“You can guess that relative to the films we’ve pursued already, the order of magnitude is much higher” with “Hurt Locker,” said Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the US Copyright Group.

The EFF criticized the US Copyright Group’s previous effort, calling it a “copyright troll” involved in “shaking down individuals for fast settlements a thousand at a time.” The same is certainly true here as well.

What the movie’s producers have been most upset with is the fact that the movie only grossed $16.4 million in the US ($40 million worldwide), making it the lowest-grossing movie ever to win an Oscar for Best Picture. It cost them a reported $15 million to make so it’s understandable they feel a little shortchanged.

“The Hurt Locker” leaked to BitTorrent tracker sites everywhere more than 6 months before it’s official US release date of June 26th, 2009. A copy on Demonoid stretches as far back as January 24th, 2009. Much to the chagrin of the movie’s producers. this means plenty of people had an opportunity to download the movie illegally and avoid having to pay to see it in the theater.

But, are file-sharers really to blame here? “The Shawshank Redemption,” also, if not more critically acclaimed, at least unofficially, than “The Hurt Locker” also suffered from poor box office ticket sales. The Best Picture-nominated film earned a paltry $28.3 million in domestic box office ticket sales and cost more than $25 million to make. This all happened way back in 1994, well before the advent of P2P let alone BitTorrent.

Part of the problem, as I’ve mentioned before, is that University of Washington researchers have already concluded that BitTorrent users are prone to false copyright infringement claims. All the lawsuits name is an IP address, not an individual, and even the IP address is no surefire way to make an accusation.

According to Dunlap, after news of its campaign against BitTorrent users got out, the US Copyright Group has heard from dozens of other film producers interested in retaining its services, so be prepared to hear of more lawsuits like this one in the future.

Stay tuned.

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