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‘Nude Nuns’ Judge Questions Mass BitTorrent Lawsuit

from – A federal judge wants a Los Angeles film company to explain why it’s targeting nearly 6,000 “John Doe” defendants around the country in a single lawsuit for torrenting the 2010 B-movie revenge flick Nude Nuns With Big Guns.

Camelot Distribution Group, Inc., which claims to own the rights to the movie about a sister who is “one Bad Mother,” has until May 13 to “show cause why the Doe defendants should not be severed and/or dismissed from this action based on improper joinder of parties or lack of personal jurisdiction,” ruled U.S. Magistrate Judge Fernando Olguin on Friday.

Olguin appointed the Electronic Frontier Foundation to act as amicus counsel on the side of the defendants, who at this stage are known only by their internet IP addresses and rough geographic location.

Camelot’s lawsuit, first reported by Threat Level, is the latest effort by independant film companies to turn piracy lawsuits into a profit center. The suit targets defendants detected torrenting Nuns between January and March of this year. The single lawsuit targets 5,865 downloaders, making it theoretically worth as much as $879,750,000 — more money than the U.S. box-office gross for Avatar.

Similar mass lawsuits have encountered a mixed reception from the courts. Civil defendants are customarily sued in the courthouse nearest to where they committed the alleged wrongdoing — in this instance on computers in their homes or work. Independent movie studios and porn companies, in contrast, are suing thousands of people at once, in a total of just about three dozen lawsuits often filed in the plaintiff’s lawyer’s backyard and far from the defendants’ homes.

This strategy was pioneered last year by the U.S. Copyright Group, a coalition of indy film producers formed explicitly to make money by suing downloaders.

Camelot has said it needs to file a mass lawsuit to legally compel ISPs to identify the defendants from their IP addresses.

The judge’s order Friday does not address another controversy in the case: whether Camelot really owns the rights to the movie it’s suing over.

Camelot didn’t actually film Nude Nunes. According to court records, it bought the rights to the film, and about a dozen others, with a $650,000 loan from a company called Incentive Capital. In a separate lawsuit, Incentive says Camelot defaulted on that loan, and Incentive has already legally foreclosed on the films. Camelot says the foreclosure was an improper “usurpation of its assets,” according to court documents.


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