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]