In the latest move by film producers against individual illegal downloaders, Voltage Pictures has filed a copyright infringement action against up to 5,000 people who, the suit says, downloaded pirate copies of the company’s multiple Oscar winner The Hurt Locker.

In the action, filed in the US District Court in Washington DC, Voltage says it knows the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the defendants but not their real names. The company believes, says the complaint, “that information obtained in discovery will lead to the identification of each defendant’s true name.”

The complaint charges that the defendants obtained illegal copies of the film using the BitTorrent protocol, which allows users to download large files stored in small fragments on the computers of other members of a peer-to-peer network.

“The effect of this technology makes every downloader also an uploader of the illegally transferred file(s),” the suit says. “This means that every ‘node’ or peer user who has a copy of the infringing copyrighted material on a torrent network must necessarily also be a source of download for that infringing file.”

The action calls for injunctions against the defendants and for actual or statutory damages.

In other similar actions brought against individual film downloaders recently, plaintiffs have been able to seek damages from each defendant of between $750 and $150,000 (depending on whether the infringement was willful or not) for each film downloaded.

In spite of being critically acclaimed and the winner of six Oscars, including Best Picture, Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker grossed a disappointing $16.4m in North America last summer and $32.2m in international markets.