A list of 23,322 U.S. BitTorrent users were being sued by the United States Copyright Group (USCG) and Nu Image, makers of The Expendables, for downloading the film. This lawsuit was set to be the biggest file-sharing lawsuit ever, until Nu Image decided to drop it.
Nu Image has voluntarily dismissed the case after getting some bad news from District Court Judge Robert Wilkins. Wilkins ruled that Nu Image could only pursue a case against people likely to be living in the District of Columbia. The bottom line is that if an individual’s IP address is located in any other district they couldn’t be served with a subpoena.
This ruling effectively eliminated 99% of the defendants in the case. That was enough for Nu Image to simply drop the case completely. It can’t be worth their legal costs to pursue such a small number of people for downloading their film.
A brief to the court, written by Nu Image attorneys reads, “Plaintiff hereby gives notice that it voluntarily dismisses the case in its entirety, without prejudice.”
This definitely isn’t the first time a judge has decided that a company must sue the defendant in a court that has jurisdiction over the defendant. Nothing is special about this ruling except for the large number of defendants involved and the media coverage associated with the case.
The thing that’s interesting about this is the potential for a precedent that completely eliminates mass BiTorrent lawsuits all together. If other judges rule the same way Wilkins does, suing 20,000 BitTorrent users becomes a very expensive affair. At the very least, companies and their lawyers won’t blanket sue if they know the defendants in question don’t live in the district where the suit is being filed.