USCG drops "The Expendables" suit, plotting new strategy

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Nu Image has withdrawn its case against the remaining defendants accused of downloading "The Expendables." Represented by the US Copyright Group (aka the law firm of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver), the studio received subpoenas to shakedown 23,322 alleged pirates earlier this year in what was the largest BitTorrent case in US history -- a short-lived title that was swiped by an update in the US Copyright Group's Hurt Locker suit.

The plaintiff was treading thin ice throughout the case after agitating presiding judge Robert Wilkins, who all but dismissed the filing earlier this month. As we've seen in a handful of similar cases, Wilkins determined that most of the alleged filesharers were out of his court's jurisdiction. Of the original 23,322 accused, only about 84 had IP addresses that were actually around the District of Columbia, "freeing" over 99% of the defendants.

To pursue all of the suspected pirates, Nu Image would have to file suits all across the US, which would complicate the approach of these smash and grab suits. The tactic, as you probably know, is very simple: pile as many IP addresses into one filing as possible, then send scary letters to the accused demanding that they pay a handsome sum to make the problem disappear. Even if only a fraction of the recipients bite, it's highly lucrative.

It may be more expensive to file multiple suits against smaller groups of pirates in separate jurisdictions, but the US Copyright Group believes there's still room for profit, as that's precisely what the firm intends to do. Although that strategy will cost more to execute, there's a potential silver lining: the US Copyright Group's filings will be spread across more courts, so it has a decent chance of finding judges who are more willing to play ball than Wilkins.

Because The Expendables suit was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice, the plaintiff can refile it. Considering the comments mentioned above, you can expect that to make headlines sometime in the near future. In fact, the Hollywood Reporter claims that Nu Image also plans to file cases against alleged pirates of "Conan the Barbarian," "Drive Angry" and "The Mechanic" -- the first of which hit theaters about a week ago and has been unsuccessful.

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