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Nu Image Films, the independent production company behind the summer smash The Expendables and nearly 180 other films, has signed up with the The U.S. Copyright Group, the Washington-based outfit that has made waves suing thousands of pirates.
According to Thomas Dunlap at USCG, a lawsuit is being prepared that will target thousands who shared Expendables on file-sharing service BitTorrent. The Sylvester Stallone action pic is just the first of several lawsuits planned over other Nu Image titles. The indie mini-studio is said to have signed up for the mass-suing over the holidays
The strategy is much like the one initiated last year on behalf of producers of The Hurt Locker, Far Cry, and other films: USCG joins multiple individual defendants in a single lawsuit and subpoenas ISPs to identify its customers flagged for sharing copyrighted content. After that happens, letters are then sent out to those who have been identified with demands to settle, lest they be pursued in follow-up litigation.
Thw strategy has garnered some criticism lately as USCG has dropped most of the original defendants in the Far Cry case. The action came after the judge in the case ordered USCG to pursue only those who were sued in the correct jurisdiction.
However, Dunlap maintains that the initial goal of the lawsuits. like the one that is forthcoming on behalf of Nu Image, is merely to figure out who is allegedly pirating the movies. Of course, settlement demands only work with a real threat of litigation, so lawsuits are being prepared against individuals who haven’t yet settled in USCG’s prior litigation.
Dunlap promises that lawsuits against some of those individuals dropped in the Far Cry case will be filed as soon as next week in Boston. After that, lawsuits are said to be coming against defendants in Colorado, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. After that, lawsuits are said to be coming in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Illinois.
The skeptics have wondered whether it is economically viable to pursue thousands of individual lawsuits around the country. But USCG has signed up about 15 firms who will serve as local counsel around the nation, and each will have discretion on which non-settling defendants to pursue in follow-up litigation. Dunlap says his firm has been doing background checks on the individuals who have been turned over from ISPs like Time Warner and will consult these local firms on the targets, noting that those who live in “a $100,000 house” may be more appealing targets than those who live in a “$10,000 trailer.”
Dunlap won’t specify how many people have settled thus far, but says the rate has so far been good, with twice as many people settling in the U.S. as those being pursued in similar litigation campaigns in Europe.
Not everything has gone according to plan, though. The USCG is currently facing a class action lawsuit by one of their accused defendants, and the USCG has requested sanctions against another attorney, Graham Syfert, who is selling form motions to quash subpoena attempts.
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