While Voltage Pictures has gotten most of the publicity surrounding the 5,000 Hurt Locker lawsuits that were handed out last Friday, it's far from the first P2P shake-down for the lawyers backing them. Extremely far, as it turns out.
The group of lawyers behind the suits call themselves the US Copyright Group, and Ars Technica figures they've sued a whopping 14,583 people this year alone. To give that some perspective: in 2009, federal copyright lawsuits numbered fewer than 2,000 total. Even more perspective: the entire RIAA anti-piracy campaign targeted 18,000 people between 2003 and 2008.
The Hurt Locker case has been the most prominent so far, but Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver—the lead firm in all USCG actions—has initiated six other mass P2P lawsuits since January. The reach of each case is too broad to settle entirely in court, and it's clear that that's not the USCG's intention: instead, their modus operandi is to offer each individual a $1500 to $2500 "settlement" that's split between the lawyers and the studio.
It's an easy racket. And with the rate of success they've been seeing, it's not likely one that'll go away any time soon. [Ars Technica]