Do you download copyrighted porn? Lawsuits seek to reveal names

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Do you download copyrighted porn? Lawsuits seek to reveal names

Fri Sep 03, 2010 @ 02:43PM PST

Debbie_does_dallas By Eriq Gardner

Something is up in the porn world, and we're not talking about you-know-what.

In the past few weeks, massive numbers of alleged anonymous copyright pirates have been sued. It seems one adult entertainment studio after another is filing complaints against John Doe defendants.

Just yesterday, for example, three more lawsuits were filed on behalf of three different companies -- Hard Drive Prods, Lightspeed Media and Millenium TGA. Each is suing 100 nameless defendants accused of stealing copyrighted audio-visual works. The litigation follows at least three other suits filed in the past two weeks, targeting hundreds of others, over content ranging from gay erotica to the cult classic "Debbie Does Dallas."

The lawsuits yesterday were filed in Illinois District Court by a single lawyer, John L. Steele of the Media Copyright Group based in Chicago. Steele has set up a website advertising a "cost-effective solution for reducing P2P-based content piracy."

Here's the lawsuit filed on behalf of Hard Drive Prods, owner of the website Amateur Allure. The complaint describes BitTorrent protocol, alleges unauthorized distribution by a swarm of individuals, and lists various IP addresses whose users "will be revealed in discovery, at which time Plaintiff will seek leave of the Court to amend this Complaint to state those identities, if necessary."

Steele isn't the only lawyer seemingly influenced by path-breaking lawsuits filed earlier this year by the U.S. Copyright Group against thousands of alleged pirates of "The Hurt Locker" and other indie films.

There's also Evan Stone in Texas, who has filed lawsuits against hundreds of alleged porn pirates on behalf of Lucas Entertainment and hundreds more on behalf of VCX LTD. As first reported by the website Slyck, the VCX cases filed on August 27 include claims over theft on BitTorrent of "Debbie Does Dallas."

In recent weeks, other adult entertainment companies including the Io Group have also sued en masse.

The copyright litigation has caused some headaches for ISPs served with subpoenas requesting identification of IP addresses. Time Warner Cable has urged a judge to limit the scope of IP lookups while Midcontinent Communications has challenged jurisdiction. Still, we're not aware of any organized movement by the politically-connected telecommunications industry to speak out about the issue or lobby for changes. At least not yet.

At some point, though, the issue of exploding copyright litigation in an already overburdened court system is likely to get some prominent attention.

The plaintiffs in these cases surely see this as a potentially effective tool against the piracy problem. Adult entertainment companies, in particular, likely see the benefit of potentially exposing people who download, say, transgender porn. 

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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