Download Porn in South Florida? You Might Be Getting Sued In Federal Court

Categories: Crime

Your friend, naturally.
Let's say yo. . . err . . . no, your friend, happened to illegally download some porn over the last year or so. Now, your friend knew he was breaking the law when he did it. And sure, it's gross, but he was sad and cripplingly lonely and they had just installed high-speed Wi-Fi in his condo building. But your friend wasn't really hurting anyone, was he?

It turns out, uh, your buddy's illegal skin flick download might land him in Federal Court.

See also:
- Porn Companies "Blackmail" Illegal Downloaders

For the past year, an LA-based porn company has been filing lawsuits against people who've illegally grabbed porn movies through BitTorrent programs. The practice is called "copyright trolling." In early May, Malibu Media file 10 new lawsuits on users across Broward.

The catch is, if you're being sued for your porn grab, you probably don't know now. The company files against John Does at specific IP address. The internet service provide is eventually subpoenaed for personal information; one day you open the mail and see you're being sued for that copy of "In Love With Lexi." You can fight it, but then you'll be officially named in the proceeding as a porno fiend.

According to David Tamaroff, a Miami attorney who defends clients against these lawsuits, that threat alone is enough force many to settle. "It depends on the individual. To someone of them, it's of the upmost importance. They would do anything to prevent themselves of being associated with these kinds of videos," he says. "So there is a coercive effort to this."

The possible financial penalty also has enough teeth to scare defendants into a settlement. If you go to trial and loose, you're not just forking over the $20 for the DVD. By law copyright infringement can lead to a $150,000 bill for the offender. Rather than fight the charges, offenders settle up, sometimes for as much as $10,000, Tamaroff says.

Still, if you're convinced you had nothing to do with that copy of "Tiffany Teenagers in Love" that passed through your internet connection, it is possible to win.

"Each individual circumstances are different, but we have found instances where it's difficult to show that a IP address links to a particular person," Tamaroff says. "[For example] they had lots of people living in a household at that time. Or some smaller condominiums have wireless included."

But Malibu Media isn't afraid to play dirty. As part of their federal filings, they not only include a list of their titles a defendant has allegedly downloaded, but all files pulled from that IP address. That means every last bit of data illegally downloaded - from "Midget Porn Pass" to Downton Abbey Season 3 to the latest Swedish House Mafia album - will be out there in the court record for all to see.

"Privacy is more important for some than others," Taramoff explains.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @kyletalking. For tips, send an e-mail

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Has anyone ever REALLY investigated these companies' records to VERIFY that the age of its "actors" is legal. Tracy Lords is asking.


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