Claims withdrawn in two BitTorrent piracy cases

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Claims withdrawn in two BitTorrent piracy cases

Tue Aug 10, 2010 @ 04:14PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

The U.S. Copyright Group, the law firm behind the highly publicized litigation campaign against thousands of alleged film pirates on BitTorrent, has voluntarily withdrawn two cases involving the films "Uncross the Stars" and "The Grey Man."

The unexpected move has opened speculation about the firm's motives. Is it consolidating resources to focus on bigger fish? Was the firm making a move in advance of a possible procedural defeat? Has it profited enough already?

Try none of the above. Here's the dull answer to the mystery.

"The time to serve individual defendants had expired," says Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the firm. "We now plan to file against individual defendants in those two cases, some in DC and many in other jurisdictions."

The original complaints were filed in January, and the firm had 120 days, per Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(m), to contact the defendants. The firm requested — and got — an extension, but the second extension in these two cases recently expired.

And so the firm is moving to Phase 2 of the program, which we recently detailed. That will involve the filing of lawsuits around the country against individuals unmasked via the original John Doe case. Fifteen law firms have agreed to act as local counsel. More to come, these cases are just heating up.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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