The Hurt Locker piracy lawsuit dismisses 90 percent of defendants
Approximately 90% of defendants in a piracy lawsuit launched by the producers of movie The Hurt Locker have been dropped from the case.
It is unclear whether the majority of defendants settled out of court, or whether there have been problems tracing their identities from IP addresses, but the case now has a little over 2,300 defendants, down from 24,583 at its height.
The case is one of the most ambitious of its kind, with all defendants accused of illegally downloading or sharing the movie on P2P file sharing networks. Despite the majority of the defendants being dismissed from the case, Voltage Pictures – the production company behind the movie – is still pursuing prosecutions through the Washington DC District Court.
This case – and others like it – is controversial because of the way the claimants seek to establish a direct personal liability for specific P2P activities (in this case downloading The Hurt Locker) based on nothing more than an IP address. The court has received many letters from defendants – including a 70 year old woman – protesting their innocence, with many citing an open Wi-Fi network as the possible reason for the infringement. Another defendant pointed out that he operated a time-share resort in Michegan with 46 residential units, all of which shared a single Internet connection and IP address, and that he could not be reasonably expected to monitor the Internet activity of all of his guests.
The case highlights some of the complexities of identifying and punishing those who break the law using computers. While IP address tracing has been used successfully to catch fraudsters and other online criminals in the past, the method is far from infallible.