Woman Sues Porn Companies For Threatening To Sue Her Over Alleged Illegal Downloads

During the years when the music and movie business began going after people for allegedly downloading copyrighted files, the porn industry did very little, claiming it didn’t have the resources to wage large-scale legal battles. But then someone realized there was money to be made in just threatening people with legal action, and a slew of lawsuits followed. Though many people, even those who claim they are innocent, have just paid up to avoid having their peccadilloes made public, one woman has fired back with a suit of her own.

The Kentucky woman recently filed suit against five different companies, alleging that using the court system to squeeze money from possible defendants is the “new business model” for the porn industry.

As we’ve described in previous stories, the porn company lawyers get the IP addresses of people they believe to have downloaded files illegally, most likely through BitTorrent. Then the lawyers take that list of IPs to internet service providers and demand that the ISP put names to the strings of numbers.

From there, lawyers contact those people and tell them either to pay a cash penalty for their alleged violation or face a lawsuit that would likely make their porn choices a matter of public record.

“[T]hey often shake the individuals down for $1,000 – $5,000,” states the lawsuit. “The pornography purveyors know that this amount of money is less than the cost of defense would be if suit were filed. They also know that individuals such as the plaintiff in this matter are embarrassed to have their names associated with pornography, and therefore, are susceptible to being shaken down.”

Continues the complaint:

In effect, the pornography purveyors have developed a new business model using the court system to extort money from individuals who are merely identified by IP address and with no proof whatsoever that they downloaded copyrighted materials from the Internet. By extorting settlements of $1,000-$5,000 the pornography purveyors have developed a model whereby they can unlawfully gain more money than they can by selling access to their pornographic videos.

The plaintiff, who says she knows nothing about file-sharing software, says she was accused in May of being a porn downloader and that she was a defendant in lawsuit filed in Dade County, FL, even though she’d never received a subpoena.

If she did not pay the amount requested by the porn lawyers, “she would be identified publicly as having downloaded pornography and would be subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars as a judgment if the suit went forward because there were multiple downloads.”

She refused to pay but believes there are more than 200,000 people being pressured into settlements they should not be paying.

Her lawsuit points out that many people accused of illegal downloads did not actually do any downloading. In some cases, their IP addresses were spoofed and used to mask another user’s address, and, claims the complain, “even if the IP address has been correctly identified, the mere fact of ownership of the IP address does not in any way indicate that the owner participated in an unlawful download of copyrighted material.”

She seeks class certification and compensatory and punitive damages for RICO violations, fraud, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unjust enrichment.

Earlier this summer, Comcast successfully fought porn lawyers’ subpoenas that would have compelled the company to identify the customers behind a list of IP addresses.

“It is evident in these cases — and the multitude of cases filed by plaintiffs and other pornographers represented by their counsel — that plaintiffs have no interest in actually litigating their claims against the Doe defendants,” wrote Comcast at the time, “but simply seek to use the Court and its subpoena powers to obtain sufficient information to shake down the Doe defendants.”

Class Claims Porn Distributors Extort People Over the Internet [CourthouseNews.com]

Comments

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  1. CrazyEyed says:

    Again, why download porn when there is an entire host of free streaming options available.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      go on….

      • The Beer Baron says:

        I do believe it possible to locate many memoirs of a risque nature at your local library, or perhaps your bookseller might have a back room in which he keeps certain items of a prurient nature away from the gentle public, lest they be scandalized by the contents thereof. I recommend locating issues of The Pearl, if you’re so inclined. Not that I’ve perused the contents of that storied publication, mind you. I have simply heard, from the rougher, less genteel frequenters of my local watering hole, that it contains articles and other items that may be relevant to your interests.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      She claims she didn’t download porn, has no idea what bittorrent is, etc. This isn’t about better ways to access porn. It’s about an innocent victim of pornographers extortion attempts fighting back.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Yep, she has no idea what bittorrent is but knows enough about IP spoofing and piracy lawsuits to seek out a lawyer to file this counter claim. Huh?!?

        • VintageLydia says:

          Or she could have called a lawyer immediately after being (in her opinion) wrongfully sued for things she claims she did not do, as most people would have. The lawyer, if s/he is worth their degree, could figure out the rest pretty easily.

        • Alex d'Indiana says:

          Or she might have googled the letter after getting it, since there are tons of stories on these suits. After contacting a lawyer, s/he might have done something crazy like contacting a computer expert.

          Just because it’s an individual against an industry doesn’t mean that the individual is automatically wrong.

          • StarKillerX says:

            Correct, and just because an individual claims they are innocent doesn’t mean they are.

            • The Beer Baron says:

              Indeed it does, my good man, indeed it does. In our judicial system, we afford the accused the courtesy and privilege of presumed innocence. What this means is that the burden of proof lies upon the accuser. For all legal intents and purposes, this lady is indeed innocent, until the accuser has proven in a court of law that she is not, your cynicism notwithstanding. This is a civil trial, so the burden of proof is somewhat different than in a criminal trial, but the plaintiff must still prove his case against her before her innocence has been disproven.

              In the event that my argument was glossed over due to length, I will offer this summation: she is innocent until the plaintiff has proven otherwise.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      I guess for the same reason people eat at restaurants instead of soup kitchens.

  2. Scoobatz says:

    Must be a typo. Women don’t watch porn, right?

  3. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    IP Spoofed?

    IMPOSSIBRULE!

  4. Extended-Warranty says:

    I remember the days when people accepted their punishments for crimes.

    Now we counter-sue. Can’t wait to see what entitlement looks like in the next 25 years!

    • AcctbyDay says:

      This is one of the few cases where counter suing is an accurate way to go about justice.

      I agree that entitlement mentality is bad, but they crossed a line and they need to be punished.

    • Maz says:

      I recall reading these companies were intentionally seeding their stuff on the Internet in order to bait people into downloading it and then scare them with lawsuits to wring money from them.

      It was recently in that whole FCC thing to basically not let porn companies harass ISPs into giving them customer info, since discovery was getting to the point of inanity.

    • Cat says:

      When did people accept their punishments for crimes they did not commit?

      • Extended-Warranty says:

        I don’t know, probably well before a time where they contacted their lawyers who told them to claim innocense because it’s possible “someone could have spoofed you IP”.

        • The Beer Baron says:

          Bully! Why should we even provide defense lawyers for the accused? After all, they must be guilty of some infraction or other! I am partial to the cut of your jib, sir. In fact, your ideas are so intriguing to me that were you to publish them in a book, I would certainly be the first in line to buy it! I will even offer up a suggestion for the title: “My Struggle Against Foolish Waste in the Judicial System By Abolishing Defense Attorneys and Encouraging the Accused to Roll Over and Take It.”

          • lvdave says:

            Hell, why not just implement Cardassian law.. We’re about a quarter of the way there already..

            Under Cardassian law, guilt was confirmed prior to Court proceedings – the trials themselves served only as a way to demonstrate the wrongdoing of the defendants and to illustrate the consequences of their alleged criminal behavior. Defendants were provided with legal counsel merely to help them “concede” the “wisdom” of the state’s judicial process, as well as help them to admit guilt and express “proper” remorse. Cardassian judicial penalties were usually severe: in at least some cases, the courts had already scheduled the accused’s execution before the trial began.

            Wouldn’t this be nice for America????

      • Invader Zim says:

        Please read the article. She says she didnt do it. Just because someone tries to claim you did something doesnt mean that you did something.

      • Alex d'Indiana says:

        Duh, in Magic FairyLand Time, when even criminals knew their manners. Then Nixon resigned and everything went to hell.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      And if you are innocent of a crime, you aren’t allowed to counter-sue?

    • Kuri says:

      So if you didn’t do something illegal, but someone with more money says you did, you should just agree that you did. Mmkay.

    • Auron says:

      So rather than forcing an entity to prove that they were injured by someone allegedly doing something illegal in a court of law, we should just accept their word that someone did it? If that were the case, I could send a threatening letter to you stating that you stole stuff out of my house and to pay x amount or I would go to court. And since it is only an allegation, I would expect you to pay me x amount w/o having to prove you did anything.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      I remember the days when people in this country were presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

      And whose entitlement are you talking about? The defendant’s, or the porn companies’?

    • GrandizerGo says:

      You have a blue car?
      My car was hit and has blue paint on it.
      According to you, you are guilty and I should sue you for the damage to my car.

      There are NUMEROUS ways that she is EASILY not the one to download the porn. You paint with too wide of a brush my good man.

  5. Hi_Hello says:

    hope she wins.

  6. PragmaticGuy says:

    If I remember correctly, the Supreme Court couldn’t even define porn. As one of the justices said, I can’t define porn but I know what it is when I see it. So, if it doesn’t have a definition maybe it’s not really porn at all but a few people making love with their clothes off (doesn’t that sound so much better?).

    • Auron says:

      It was Justice Potter Stewart in an obscenity case (Jacobellis v. Ohio). Stewart held that the Constitution protected all obscenity except “hard-core pornography.” Stewart wrote, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

  7. Geekybiker says:

    Wasn’t there a decision recently that an IP != a person? Its common sense if you know anything about the issue, but it would seem to stop these types of suits cold.

  8. Lyn Torden says:

    IMHO, we need to fix the law suit mess our current court procedures have us in. The court should run each lawsuit through a review process first to verify that the plaintiff has all the appropriate documentation ready to go to sue.

    • Geekybiker says:

      What would be a interesting turn is allowing defamation suits for these types of cases with extremely weak evidence.

  9. clarkis117 says:

    The main problem with this is that most ISP’s use dynamic IP addresses for their end-consumers, therefore unless the lawyer has the time the downloads took place, they couldn’t know who downloaded it, let alone prove it in court.

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I wouldn’t pay it either. I don’t torrent, and I don’t care who knows I, a woman, sometimes watch porn on the internet. Free, streaming stuff. In fact, the link I go to the most was posted in the comments here a couple of years ago.

    CONSUMERIST YOU ARE COMPLICIT IN MY SIN

  11. incident_man says:

    OMG!! That explains why I see the SAME exact scuzzbag group corralled around their laptop in the corner every time I visit my local Taco Bell (my local Taco Bell offers free Wi-Fi).

    Better that Taco Bell gets sued, in their eyes, than them, I guess.

    • opemily says:

      Taco Bell will have their lawyers say that they offer the wifi as a service and are not responsible for the actions of the users while they are on their network