With the advent of the Internet and porn never any further than a click away, no longer do people have to turn up their collars, duck their heads and swiftly shuffle to their cars holding an oversized paper bag when exiting their local smut shop. But this anonymity and accessibility also presents multiple problems. Not only is pornographic content illegally downloaded on a regular basis, but it also has led to a rise in porn producers suing potential downloaders in order to protect their product.
These so-called “copyright trolls” sue John Does who allegedly have illegally downloaded porn, then contact their Internet service providers to learn the users’ true identities. According to reports, hundreds of porn companies have filed lawsuits against or made calls to an estimated 500,000 people since 2007. The representatives of these porn producers allegedly offer defendants easy settlements of $1,000 or $5,000 to avoid facing charges of $150,000 per alleged download and save them the embarrassment of being caught downloading illegal porn.
However, some defendants have begun to fight back. News broke earlier today that a Kentucky woman, Jennifer Barker, is suing five porn companies—K-Beech Inc., Third Degree Films, Patrick Collins Inc., Malibu Media and Raw Films of London—that have her in their crosshairs and is seeking class action status. The five companies named have filed more than 500 lawsuits in 17 states against Jon and Jane Does in the past few years.
Ken Henry, Barker’s attorney, claims porn companies have been using this tactic to get quick cash settlements from people who have no connection to any downloaded movie but don’t want to have their names besmirched because of an association with porn. He also says that this business model likely is more profitable than selling actual films.
"It's brilliant in one sense of the word," Henry told the AP. "But, it's wrong. It's just absolutely wrong."
For more on porn copyright trolls, read the AP report.