Lawsuits by porn industry could reveal Indy web users who illegally downloaded copyrighted films

Co. asks judge to out people who pirated porn

INDIANAPOLIS - A nationwide legal effort by pornography producers has landed in Indianapolis federal court, with half a dozen lawsuits that could result in revealing names of people who have downloaded certain movies on the Internet.

Malibu Media LLC of Los Angeles has filed six lawsuits asking an Indianapolis federal judge to issue subpoenas that would determine the identities of people whose computers were used to download movies that are copyrighted by the company.

One of the lawsuits targets the Internet Protocol address of a home computer in Fishers. By filing a lawsuit against that IP address for copyright infringement, a court order could order that Internet Service Provider to reveal the name of the person using that computer. The lawsuit can then proceed against that person.

It’s part of a snowballing campaign that has been getting international news coverage , including many tech news blogs . Some articles have focused on how these lawsuits result in cash windfalls for producers of pornography and other motion pictures online.

In this week’s lawsuits  filed in Indianapolis, computer users are being accused of stealing content, also known as piracy, for movie titles  that included "Photo Fantasy," "Young Passion," "Lunchtime Fantasy," "Like the First Time," "Casual Affair" and "Tiffany Sex with a Supermodel."

Indianapolis federal court records show Malibu Media LLC also filed four similar lawsuits on Nov. 29, 2012.

The local lawsuits, as well as the identical lawsuits that have been aimed at hundreds of thousands of computer users nationwide, focus on the use of a file-sharing service known as Bit Torrent .

The service allows computer users to log on and share content, basically by breaking movies up into millions of tiny parts (known as bits) and then piecing them back together through a network of other users’ computers.  

In order to download a single feature-length movie, bits may be pulled from dozens of computers, according to court filings and experts involved in some of the lawsuits.

Various content producers, including the copyright holders of mainstream films such as “The Hurt Locker,” have filed suits around the country. 

Some employ private investigators who are able to log onto Bit Torrent’s website to determine the IP addresses of computers that have been used to download their content.

Use of the Bit Torrent service is not illegal, but attorneys involved in both sides of the lawsuits say downloading or sharing copyrighted material can get a person into trouble in a hurry.

A number of law firms have been focusing on defending people who are being identified and then sued in these actions. Several are also posting advice for people who find themselves getting surprising notices in the mail from these lawsuits.

Those attorneys report people are typically offered a chance to pay $3,000 for each title they were caught downloading. They are usually threatened with fines of more than $150,000, in addition to court costs and attorney fees if they don’t pay up.

Various online blogs have included accounts from people who claim to be targets, saying they felt pressure of extortion or blackmail.  

If settlement offers are rejected, their names can be included in public court records, which adds to the pressure to pay up when letters first arrive in the mail from the porn producers and their lawyers.

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