A group known as the US Copyright Group is suing more than 23,000 people for copyright infringement. According to the suit, each of these people illegally downloaded the Sylvester Stallone movie “The Expendables” through BitTorrent. BitTorrent is a peer to peer file sharing site that allows users to download virtually anything shared by others.
A federal judge in the District of Columbia gave USCG permission to demand the names, address, phone numbers, email addresses, and the device Media Access Control addresses of the users they allege have committed copyright infringement. Subpoenas are expected to be delivered this week.
The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of Nu Image, the makers of “The Expendables” and other top rated films. USCG made the announcement in February that they were working with Nu Image and monitoring downloads for the filmmaker.
The targeted IP addresses come from nearly every major United States ISP including Verizon, Time Warner, Qwest, Earthlink, Cox, Comcast, Charter, Bell South, AT&T, and many others. Once the users’ information is released from ISPs, the US Copyright Group will notify the users in writing of the pending lawsuit and offer a settlement out of court.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, calls such lawsuits presented by the USCG predatory. The USCG offers defendants the opportunity to settle out of court for a fee rather than going to court to face the maximum penalties. According to the Foundation, this strategy is used “to pressure the alleged infringers to settle quickly.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that copyright should not be used to “shake down individuals for fast settlements” and to “line the pockets of” groups like US Copyright Group.