Suing file-sharers has gone viral.
Since we first broke the news about a new Washington D.C. enterprise using an innovative legal tactic to pursue movie torrent downloaders, U.S. courts have seen an explosion of activity on the file-sharing front.
In fact, according to data collected by TorrentFreak, more than 100,000 P2P users have been targeted in lawsuits in the past year alone. What started out as a handful of small film producers suing has grown to include indie studios like Voltage and Nu Image to a wide swath of the adult entertainment industry.
The number of file-sharers sued in the past year for copyright infringement is stunning. By comparison, between 2003 and 2008, during the RIAA’s attempts to sue individual file-sharers, only about 30,000 people were sued.
Since lawsuits were filed against these 100,000 individuals fairly recently, it makes sense that most of the cases are still active. Amid word in some circles that the lawsuits have been dismissed by judges or withdrawn by plaintiffs, the data shows that roughly 71% of individuals being sued haven’t gotten off the hook yet. And among those that have, some lawsuits are in the process of being re-filed. Over the last few weeks, a couple dozen new cases have been filed against individuals who refused to bow to settlement pressures.
The amount of litigation is sure to give judges fits. Three jurisdictions — California, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia — have each been home to lawsuits targeting a total of 20,000+ file-sharers. The judge in West Virginia couldn’t take it and dismissed most of them. Many of the lawsuits originally filed in West Virginia have recently been re-filed in D.C., which has become the biggest center for mass-litigation against file-sharers. Texas and Illinois have also been hospitable to these new suits:
So far, the place of filing seems to be dictated by the firm bringing the action. For example, the Adult Copyright Company (Kenneth J. Ford in West Virginia) leads the way with lawsuits targeting 36,709 file-sharers. (Although the number comprises targets in both West Virginia and D.C.) The Copyright Enforcement Group (Ira Siegel in California) is the next most active with lawsuits against 21,593 file-sharers. The US Copyright Group (Thomas Dunlap in DC) is third at 20,281, although the firm has recently teamed up with ACC on some of its litigation. Here’s a look at the 10 firms that have thus far made a name with mass-suing tactics against file-sharers: