Magazine article Screen International

Voltage Pictures Turns Up the Charge on Illegal Downloaders of the Hurt Locker

Magazine article Screen International

Voltage Pictures Turns Up the Charge on Illegal Downloaders of the Hurt Locker

Article excerpt

John Hazelton explores why Voltage Pictures is going after 5,000 illegal downloaders of The Hurt Locker and why the case could be crucial for independents.

In the latest move by film producers against individual illegal downloaders, Voltage Pictures has filed a copyright infringement action against up to 5,000 people who, the suit alleges, downloaded pirate copies of the company's multiple Oscar winner The Hurt Locker.The action is one of a series of recent cases brought by a Washington DC law firm against film downloaders.In the action, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, Voltage says it knows the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the defendants - described as "Does 1- 5,000" - but not their real names. The company believes, says the complaint, "that information obtained in discovery will lead to the identification of each defendant's true name."The complaint charges that the defendants obtained illegal copies of the film using the BitTorrent protocol, which allows users to download large files stored in small fragments on the computers of other members of a peer-to-peer (P2P) network."The effect of this technology makes every downloader also an uploader of the illegally transferred file(s)," the suit says. "This means that every 'node' or peer user who has a copy of the infringing copyrighted material on a torrent network must necessarily also be a source of download for that infringing file."The action calls for injunctions against the defendants and for actual or statutory damages.In spite of being critically acclaimed and the winner of six Oscars, including Best Picture, Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker grossed a disappointing $16.4m in North America last summer and $32.2m in international markets.Asked whether he hopes that the copyright infringement action will recoup revenue lost to pirates, Voltage Pictures co-founder Nicolas Chartier, one of the producers of the film, says: "I'll know in six months. I'm sure we're going to get some money, how much I don't know."Some people are going to be scared of the lawsuit and stop downloading. Other people will say 'We don't care, we're going to pirate even more movies in retaliation.' And then you'll have people who say, 'I got a lawsuit for $2,000, let's pay it because I don't want it on my record.'"Chartier suggests that anti-piracy measures such as destroying counterfeit DVDs and suing file sharing web sites are having little effect on the problem. …

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