The US Copyright Group (USCG) has voluntarily dismissed more than 22,000 defendants from their infamous 'The Hurt Locker' lawsuit, one of the largest in history.
Only around 2,300 defendants remain from the 24,583 named and unnamed 'Does' that were part of the lawsuit as its peak. The USCG is representing the producers of the film, Voltage Pictures, in targeting users that have downloaded this film illegally, and many of those who have been dismissed from the case have already paid up the requested "pre-trial settlement" fees, usually ranging in the thousands of dollars.
But Voltage/USCG are still keen to pursue the case, but has complained that ISPs have not been forthcoming in providing names for IP addresses. "Plaintiff requests at least an additional 60 days in which to effectuate service on Defendants Bremer-Wirtig, Ditraglia, Madhavan, Sapaj, and Sein and to name and serve, or voluntarily dismiss without prejudice, the remaining Doe Defendants," requested Voltage in court documents filed.
Many of those who have been named have argued their innocence. An IP address only helps to identify the owner of the Internet account, but as digital rights advocates EFF says, IP address do not help identify the actual suspect of the "crime". Owners of unsecured Wi-Fi networks could find their connections being used without authorisation, but may end up being identified by Voltage/USCG as being guilty of downloading 'The Hurt Locker'.
There is also the issue of public Wi-Fi networks. One of the named defendants, a resort owner in Michigan, complained that his public Wi-Fi's outbound IP address was listed in the lawsuit, and it would have been one of the thousands of users that could have potentially downloaded the film, as he confirms none of his computers were used to do so. Use of public Wi-Fi is something that is almost impossible to regulate, and it's feared that mass lawsuits such as this one could bring an end to such networks.
The US Copyright group also recently voluntarily dismissed all defendants in their other well known mass copyright lawsuit, for the movie 'The Expendables'(representing the producers of that film, Nu Image). It it thought that jurisdictional issues were the main reasons behind that dismissal.
A list of all the dismissed IP addresses can be seen here (courtesy of TorrentFreak):