The Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog reported Tuesday that an ad hoc coalition of independent film producers has sued more than 20,000 individual downloaders of movie torrents in federal court in Washington, D.C., in the past few weeks. It’s expected to be a “test run” of a new technology to track illegal downloads. Another wave of 30,000 similar lawsuits is expected shortly.

The move seems to echo the RIAA’s litigation against illegal music downloaders, which it phased out last year in favor of taking down the technology that enables illegal downloads.

While the MPAA in the past has selectively targeted movie downloaders in an effort to discourage others from doing the same, a new technology allows the U.S. Copyright Group, the legal services provider representing the film producers, to identify infringers on BitTorrent en masse.

THR, Esq. writer (and InsideCounsel contributor) Eriq Gardner says the recent filings “may be a sign of things to come.”

Gardner’s full report is available at THR, Esq.: