In a repeat of last year's performance, Voltage Pictures, makers of the movie Hurt Locker, filed a lawsuit naming over 2,500 BitTorrent users who allegedly shared the film online. The studio plans to subpoena identifying information from the downloaders ISP, then offer settlements to those who are named.
Last year the company filed suit against a record-breaking 24,000 BitTorrent users, many of whom settled with Voltage Pictures out of court. They are looking to repeat this tactic by requesting a subpoena requiring the ISPs of downloaders to reveal the names of those who they believe downloaded the movie illegally. They then plan to offer the individuals a chance to settle by paying Voltage Pictures some $3,000; the company could make up to $6 million in settlements this way. One has to wonder if they really did lose that much money to illegal downloading.
Obviously illegal downloading can be detrimental to creativity, and there is no doubt that it does cost studios some money. However, it seems that Voltage Pictures has intentionally targeted Charter Communications customers for two reasons: 1) The defendants downloaded the movie over two years ago, and Charter is one of the few ISPs that actually keeps records that long, and 2) Charter is likely more amenable than most ISPs to handing over the subscriber information when ordered to do so.
The fact is that Hurt Locker, though a great, Oscar-winning movie, isn't worth $3,000 a watch. Voltage Pictures' settlement offers are a punitive way for the company to make millions and may well discourage consumers from buying their movie. After all, clearly there are plenty of copies available for free download lying around.