More Porn Companies Filing Mass Lawsuits Against File Sharers

from the easier-to-get-people-to-pay-up dept

While lots of attention has been paid to US Copyright Group, and its effort to bring mass automated copyright infringement "pre-settlement letters" to the US, it's worth remembering that the pioneers of this sort of thing, Davenport Lyons and ACS:Law, used a lot of porn movie makers early on. That might be because that's who first hired them... or, it might be because everyone involved figured that it was much easier to get people to pay up quickly and quietly if they were accused of downloading gay porn, rather than having to go to trial over the issue. This is not, of course, to say there's anything wrong with gay porn for those into that sort of thing, but in general, most people probably don't want to have it broadcast to the world that they're involved in any sort of lawsuit over downloaded porn, gay or straight, with the case for settling being even more compelling for those who were not openly gay.

It appears that a similar calculus may have brought such lawsuits over to the US. It's not clear if this is part of any coordinated campaign by a law firm, as we've seen elsewhere, but THREsq reports that 65 "John Does" have been sued for accessing a gay porn movie via BitTorrent in a Texas court.
The complaint reads like most of the other, similar complaints we've seen, explaining the basics of BitTorrent to establish the claim that these "Does" infringed on the copyright. Once again, it seems like an open question as to whether or not it's actually legal to include all of these defendants in a single lawsuit. It's also not clear if the goal here is to send similar pre-settlement letters, but that sure seems likely.


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  1.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 21st, 2010 @ 5:32pm

    Funny ....

    They will be fined to the highest extent allowable by law ... Gay porn and a Texas courtroom ... Not looking so good for these defendants

     

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  2.  
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    DS, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Funny ....

    Well, if they go to a jury they have a one out of three chance of getting off scott free. I'm not too sure how the Beers and Steers would lean though.

     

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  3.  
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    Malodorous Intent (profile), Jul 21st, 2010 @ 6:05pm

    Seems like a small number of people for a sham

    I thought they liked suing people by the thousands, why only 65?

     

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  4.  
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    Chryss, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 7:10pm

    Actually, I think this could have the opposite to the 'swept under the rug effect' in some areas of the U.S. All it takes is a few of these extortion letters over porn to hit some outspoken members of the religious right and the complaints will pour into the ABA and politicians.

     

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  5.  
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    Charlie Potatoes (profile), Jul 21st, 2010 @ 7:14pm

    small number

    ... It's because that is all the gay guys there are in Texas. And they are all immigrants. It's a crime down here ... at least every six months it is. The courts overturn it and the Texas Legislature rewrites it and posts it again. God bless Texas.

     

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  6.  
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    dcx2, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 7:16pm

    Private tracker?

    I find it particularly interesting that this happened to a private tracker...

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 7:41pm

    "While lots of attention has been paid to US Copyright Group, and its effort to bring mass automated copyright infringement "pre-settlement letters" to the US, it's worth remembering that the pioneers of this sort of thing, Davenport Lyons and ACS:Law, used a lot of porn movie makers early on." For clarification, what does this "sentence" even mean?

     

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  8.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 7:53pm

    Assuming IP address = specific person is the objection I have.

    That's a major leap. It's no trick to get IP address from any of the usual trackers: just look for it in your torrent client. For a court to allow that as sufficient identification to grant an invasive discovery order is to *assume* guilt from a mere *number*, and then that turns the courts into an extortion machine that works regardless of actual guilt.

    By the way, so far as I know, IP address is the sole *reliable* identification you can get from a torrent client, as the ID strings they send out can be changed at will.

     

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  9.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 21st, 2010 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Re: Funny ....

    Okay being a numbers type ... "one out of three chance of getting off scott free." explain please

    Also

    "Beers and Steers" ??? not being from texas I dont get the phrase. Or does it have to do with the band that O.N.John did the song from?

     

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  10.  
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    Ron Jeremy, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 8:56pm

    O hai Techdirt! Can I haz lawsuits nao?

    Noooooo, it are my birthday!
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100712/02542710174.shtml

    Porn industry is not gonna kill itself because there'll be always people producing porn. But the CURRENT players of the porn industry are gonna destroy themselves if they keep pursuing the copyright madness path. I'm not actually Ron Jeremy, by the way.

     

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  11.  
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    Greg G, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 9:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Funny ....

    Beers and Steers.... I am from Texas and I don't get it.

    Steers: must be referring to the longhorn steer. There are lots of them here.

    Beers: Sadly, there are not enough microbreweries here yet.

     

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  12.  
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    fred, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 12:11am

    OK, This has been ongoing in the UK for the last couple of years, This lot will probably follow the same method, this is:
    1. Go to court to ask the Judge to issue a order demanding that the ISP's release the names and addresses of suspected Copyright infringers (this has been done)
    2. Send threatening letters to the suspected copyright infringers,
    3. tell said people in the letter that if they fight the claim, then they will take the person to court and they will ask for many times the demand in the letter.
    4. tell the people in the letter that they can make it all go away for a "small sum" in UK this is between £250 - £700.
    5.Tell the people in the letter that it will cost many times this amout to contest and they will ask the judge to charge you with the their costs.
    6. Ignore any Letters of Denial and just send another letter raising the cost
    7. wait for the people to pay.
    8. never have any intention of taking people to court, just "prey on the ones that pay"

    As stated this has been ongoing with a few firms in UK:
    ACS Law are the main ones, total letters sent - Enough to make them over 1Million pounds this year.
    Gallant McMillan, new firm, just sent 1500 letters on behalf of "Ministry of Sound"
    Davenport-Lyons - withdrew from the business when their reputation suffered. 2 of their solicitors are still under investigation by the Solicitors Regulating Authority.
    Tilly Baily-Ervine - withdrew from the business when their reputation suffered.

    This entire "business Model" has been called a "scam" and "Legal Blackmail" in the House of Lords
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwKbQVzR ... re=channel
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORBfs3QC ... re=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5GaZV8O ... re=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkPHV-U3 ... re=related

     

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  13.  
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    Vic, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 12:32am

    RE: Good bedfellows (pun intended)...

    For the US Copyright Group and Co, don't you find? 8^)

     

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    fred, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 3:44am

    The same thing is happening in UK

     

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  15.  
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    mkam (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Funny ....

    "only steers and queers come from Texas private cowboy, and you don't much look like a steer to me so that kinda narrows it down" Full Metal Jacket 1987

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=land%20of%20steers%20and%20queers

    So I would argue that there is a 50% chance the defendant would get off in this case.

     

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  16.  
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    chris (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Funny ....

    "Beers and Steers" ??? not being from texas I dont get the phrase.

    beers, steers, and queers: cowboys
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPVC8Y4aJdc&feature=PlayList&p=DC8688DAF049DDA9& playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1

     

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  17.  
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    Scott (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    Is the content legal???

    Lets say you live in...Alabama and gay porn (or some types depicting sodomy) is illegal to distribute (dont know that it is...just a hypothetical). Can this company sue you? Possession might be ok in this instance while distributing is not. I would think you cant hold a copyright on illegal material...

     

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  18.  
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    Shaun, Jul 24th, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Joining all the parties

    In federal court, I wouldn't think you could join all those parties. I just read through a case that cited two cases, Direct TV v. Boggess and Moore v. New York Cotton Exchange, discussing the joinder rules.

    Of course, I'm sure there cases that go against it as well. Essentially the holding was that several people acting independently, but performing similar actions (i.e. downloading porn) doesn't satisfy the same transaction test in the FRCP.

     

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  19.  
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    jackson, Jul 25th, 2010 @ 5:54am

    Re: Is the content legal???

    Along those same lines, if Lucas is the primary owner of the company and participates in any of the sex scenes, could the court find the movie, or at least those scenes, to be in violation of the local anti-prostitution laws?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Interesting, the lawyer has the same name as one of more prominent male porn stars today, Evan Stone.

     

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