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How Mass BitTorrent Lawsuits Turn Low-Budget Movies Into Big Bucks

• David Kravets via

On March 7, Camelot Distribution Group, an obscure film company in Los Angeles, unveiled its latest and potentially most profitable release: a federal lawsuit against BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded the company’s 2010 B-movie revenge flick Nude Nuns With Big Guns 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.

At the moment, the targets of the litigation are unknown, even to Camelot. The mass lawsuit lists the internet IP addresses of the downloaders (.pdf), and asks a federal judge to order ISPs around the country to dig into their records for each customer’s name.

It’s the first step in a process that could lead to each defendant getting a personalized letter in the mail from Camelot’s attorneys suggesting they settle the case, lest they wind up named in a public lawsuit as having downloaded Nude Nuns With Big Guns.

A hearing on that request is set for April 13. In all probability none of the alleged downloaders know it’s happening.

Welcome to the future of Hollywood, or at least the less glittery outskirts of Tinsel Town that produce art films, exploitation flicks and porn. Over the past year, small-budget film producers have nearly perfected a slick, courtroom-based business strategy that’s targeted more than 130,000 suspected movie downloaders.

The types of films include the Oscar-winning Hurt Locker, the less-critically acclaimed Nude Nuns, and dozens of adult movies.

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