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Judge Ends Massive Porn Lawsuit 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the an-end-to-silliness dept.
eldavojohn writes "A recent offensive of porn producers using copyright law against many anonymous P2P users has been terminated by a West Virginian judge. Initially, Ken Ford of Adult Copyright Company planned out nine lawsuits against some 22,000 file sharers, starting with 7,000-person and 9,000-person suits in the first wave. Unimpressed, the judge reduced everything down to one lawsuit against one file sharer, telling the Adult Copyright Company that they are to prosecute each individual separately, as the accused neither participated in the same transaction nor collaborated in these offenses. So, if you're looking to hit 22,000 people with such a lawsuit, the $350 court filing fee will require an investment of $7.7 million ($1.8 million for the individuals listed so far). Ars points out the hilarious fact that 'Ford has sued enough people that lawyers are taking out ads on his company name,' providing an image of an advertisement for such a search. This is separate from a similar showdown in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois."
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Judge Ends Massive Porn Lawsuit

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  • by alfredos (1694270) on Friday December 17, 2010 @02:40PM (#34590442)
    Do we get a bad car analogy down the line?
    • So, it's like this: Tommy Lee is driving the BangBus down the interstate, picking up every hooker and frat boy he sees. They can't all fit and do their business, as it's a 1994 Ford Aerostar and not, like, an Econoline or a cargo unit. After a couple of near-crashes and a blown shock (no pun intended), he tells all of them to get out, except for a guy in a white wig and black robe, and a girl wearing nothing but ten packages of PostIt notes stuck to her body. She is coming home from the courthouse, where she is filing for divorce from her cheating bastard of a husband, and really needs the hundred dollar bill that Ray LaHood, US Secretary of Transportation and part-time porn director, is waving in her face. Like any reasonable girl you find on the roadside, is willing to work for it. Ray is just there to make sure that they are all safe.

      And that is how the steam engine changed modern warfare. Questions?

    • by mangu (126918)

      Do we get a bad car analogy down the line?

      Yes, copyright infringement is like when you put a Mercedes star on your Ford's hood.

      Is this bad enough, or do you want worse?

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Yes, copyright infringement is like when you put a Mercedes star on your Ford's hood.

        Is this bad enough, or do you want worse?

        Its like Ferrari prancing horsie decals on the sides. Its just like the real thing, and its as close as one is likely to get.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Fix or Repair Daily? First On Race Day?

  • by drumcat (1659893) on Friday December 17, 2010 @02:40PM (#34590454)
    Clearly he didn't want to finish...
  • Stiff Competition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday December 17, 2010 @02:43PM (#34590518) Journal

    The fact is that the real downfall of the porn industry isn't illegal file sharers, it's the fact that there appear to be a growing number of amateur exhibitionists willing to do filthy things to each other for discount prices, or in some cases for free. Mom and pop (and various other combinations) porn films are kicking the crap out of "mainstream" porn, because the Internet, that great leveler, has given this new wave of pornographers a cheap and universal distribution mechanism.

    • Agreed. Honestly the best site for porn I have EVER found is Flickr. You can find ANYTHING that you like on there.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well there's amateur porn and there's "amature" porn where they just pretend to be, I think people are downloading much more pro porn than they think except they don't all have boob jobs and tramp stamps. Their primary problem is that the market is completely oversaturated, your basic fuck flick has now been done a million times before and counting. Unless you have AAA supermodel material that somehow ended up in porn or some niche site, you're in a rat race for the bottom.

    • by Beerdood (1451859) on Friday December 17, 2010 @04:10PM (#34591744)
      Please don't ever use the phrase "Mom and pop porn films" again. I can't unsee the thought that came to my head after reading those words, no matter how hard I try.
      • by PitaBred (632671)

        What, you think you were conceived immaculately? ;)

      • Please don't ever use the phrase "Mom and pop porn films" again.

        Why? That is a category of porn, along with incest, twins, and others.

        Falcon

    • by Locke2005 (849178)

      Mom and pop ... porn films are kicking the crap out of "mainstream" porn.

      Your mom and dad must be just a little different from my mom and dad...

    • The fact is that the real downfall of the porn industry isn't illegal file sharers

      According to porn producers [tucsonsentinel.com] pirates do hurt the industry. Of course offline producers had to change their business model and now online producers are changing theirs. One such change is the delivery of live movies. Coupled with these live movies some producers allow viewers to post requests. Just as early tech adopters are willing to pay extra for new toys, there are some who are willing to pay to be among the first to wa

  • Didn't they have to begin filing against each individual infringer ?
  • by bobjr94 (1120555) on Friday December 17, 2010 @02:48PM (#34590570) Homepage
    Seems somewhat biased the riaa and other lawyer heavy companies can send out millions of lawsuits but when it comes to the porn companies it's different. What does that do for all the other mass lawsuits that have been or will be sent to other downloaders ?
    • Seems somewhat biased the riaa and other lawyer heavy companies can send out millions of lawsuits but when it comes to the porn companies it's different.

      Laws will be handled differently by different jurisdictions. In this case, it's not a matter of who has more lawyers; it's a matter of where the filing occurred.

  • by sabt-pestnu (967671) on Friday December 17, 2010 @02:57PM (#34590698)

    This ruling should be used as a club against the MPAA/RIAA information gathering suits.

  • Does this set a precedent making it harder for the 'Dunlapp, Grub and Weaver' lawsuits?

    The RIAA/MPAA, and their advocates are going to be pissed....

    • Probably not, at least not directly. Those suits were filed in DC, which has its own appeals circuit. The Northern District of West Virginia is in the 4th Circuit. Defendants in the Dunlap suits may still be able to point to this case in an attempt to convince the judge to go along with it, but the judge wouldn't be under an obligation due to precedent.

      • by russ1337 (938915)

        Thanks. I wasn't sure how that worked, (and was silently hoping i wasn't going to get flamed for not having RTFA or something...)

        so cheers!

        The lets hope the court in DC does take the cue. I'd like to see the business model change rather than massive lawsuits against P2P.

        I acknowledge the business model is changing with the likes of Netflix online, Hulu etc, and i'd like to see progress in that direction - internationally. (many of those services are not available outside the USA).

  • by lymond01 (314120) on Friday December 17, 2010 @02:58PM (#34590718)

    Eventually something's going to break. The reality is such:

    1) 10,000 people can "steal" your digital goods easily
    2) You can't currently sue more than one person at a time if they didn't collude
    3) It's too expensive to sue 10,000 people separately
    4) It's not really the ISPs fault so you can't sue them either

    So what DOES someone do who has bankrolled their digital creation and would like to recoup their investment, even make a profit, only to find that it's spread amongst 10,000 people without a penny returned. My thinking: make one copy cost what you hope to earn. So if you make a little software program and it takes you 30 hours at, say, $60/hour...charge $1800 for it. That way, when someone "steals" it, you can sue that single person and get your money back.

    Yes, that's a dumb idea. But really, money is going to start failing in terms of something that is essentially eternally renewable. What would clothes be worth if we could 100% recycle them into fresh ones? You have that going on now with software, movies, etc. It's a tricky spot we're in.

    • by zeroshade (1801584) on Friday December 17, 2010 @03:10PM (#34590906)

      It's not a tricky spot at all. For example with music, Artists make more money now than they have in a long while. This is due, partially to piracy, to the downfall of physical CD purchases and the increase in live performances. The point is that the piracy has acted as free advertising for them.

      Have some artists not done as well, perhaps due to piracy, most likely. But it's economics. If people like your music, they will pay you money to continue to make it. Whether they are giving you money for live performances, merchandise, or even donations, you'll get money. The people who want to hear more will support you.

      If your music is crappy, more people will have heard of you and that means more people will have heard the music and less will buy it.

      It's supply and demand. The songs have an infinite supply but merchandise, live performances, and experiences do not. The songs have become the free advertising that lead the consumers to the other things. The situation for movies has become similar.

      • by AJWM (19027)

        It's starting to happen with midlist authors too. Self- or indie pubbed books on Amazon or Smashwords may not sell as many copies as a mass-market paperback from a New York publisher, but the royalty difference (70% vs 10%, say) can more than make up for that. Freebies (to an extent) are advertising, which just helps. (Look at what the Baen Free Library has done for those authors.)

        The difference between all that and movies is for the most part that movie making is still a high-budget operation. Writing

    • by debrain (29228)

      One response is the creation of a procedural mechanism whereby a class of defendants for whom the common issues of fact and law are determined together can be used to expedite the determination of fault by the masses. While a class of plaintiffs is certainly more common and intuitive, it's certainly not the only possible mechanism for Courts resolving issues that affect large numbers of individuals.

      Some jurisdictions have had such mechanisms since the early 1990's.

      • (In the US at least) This could run afoul of the rights of (ex) an accused person to confront an accuser. In an era of excessive statutory damages and vigorous collections, the rights of those accused, even in civil cases, need to be considered. I don't this is a cash-grab exercise, an won't be settled with a one time payment of $16.88 per defendant and a 10% H&R Block coupon...

    • The approach here in Europe has been legislative action that allows lesser penalties (internet disconnection) to be imposed without the requirements of proper procedure of a civil action. Then it becomes practical for a copyright holder to use automated means to send of tens of thousands of complaints, and get people kicked off the internet. There will unavoidably be false positives, and innocent people punished, but that is the price of making copyright once again somewhat enforceable.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        The approach here in Europe has been legislative action that allows lesser penalties (internet disconnection) to be imposed without the requirements of proper procedure of a civil action.

        Mostly just France really, and even they have barely started after doing a lot of legal rounds. I think everyone else is just waiting to see how that experiment goes. Many, many other countries in Europe don't have any plans like that at all.

        • UK, Digital Economy Act. It specifies that infringement shall be stopped by 'technical measures' but leaves the nature of those measures vague and extendable so as to include disconnection.
    • by bl968 (190792)

      But the reality is that content producers will continue to produce content, because not everyone will download it illegally.

      It's like in news, I would love for the corporate media to put their content behind a paywall. It would be the best gift they could give my small news web site.

      Then you have the fact that the vast majority of content can trace its roots to other peoples works from the past, Just look at the music in early Disney cartoons, did they use classical music out of a desire to instill a love o

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      So what DOES someone do who has bankrolled their digital creation and would like to recoup their investment, even make a profit, only to find that it's spread amongst 10,000 people without a penny returned.

      Since this is about porn, I guess amateur porn will keep killing the industry. And I'm not complaining.

    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday December 17, 2010 @03:48PM (#34591440)

      I don't think it's a tricky spot. Don't think of "Piracy" as one big block, but as two distinct chunks.

      On one hand you have your Pirate-Anything-No-Matter-What pirates. If you lowered your prices to a penny per song and included a free gold nugget with each purchase, these pirates would still be uploading and downloading songs from P2P. Don't consider these people your customers or lost sales in any way. If you removed their ability to pirate your works, chances are they wouldn't have pried open their wallets to pay for the merchandise.

      The other group, are people who pirate due to price, availability or convenience. For these people, think of piracy as a competing product. If you offer your product for a reasonable price with appropriate availability and convenience to purchase, piracy will drop. If you overcharge, restrict availability or make your customer jump through hurdles before they can buy, then piracy will climb.

      If 10,000 people are pirating your works, you shouldn't be asking "How can I best sue them into oblivion", you should be asking "What can I do to win back most of those pirates?"

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Except that's not how it works. Repeated studies have shown that while some people never buy, most of those that do buy also pirate a lot because they can get so much, much more. People seem to choose how much to pay whether the creators like it or not by buying just a fraction of what they consume. They don't like it because a) the demand are dictating the terms, it's not "pay our price or do without" it's "lower your prices or I'll go pirate it" and b) you're not very likely to buy the CD/DVD when everyon

    • Star in the pornos you produce. You really can't lose.
    • So what DOES someone do who has bankrolled their digital creation and would like to recoup their investment, even make a profit, only to find that it's spread amongst 10,000 people without a penny returned.

      Invent a different business model. Reality is like this, not everything that's valuable will bring you a profit.

      I think a good analogy for this is oxygen. There are many companies selling bottled oxygen, which is a valuable gas for medical and industrial purposes. Those companies get their oxygen from the atmosphere and they don't pay anyone for that.

      On the other side are farmers whose plants ingest carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen as part of their life cycle. Those farmers are giving away for free somethin

    • by vux984 (928602) on Friday December 17, 2010 @04:44PM (#34592300)

      Lets attack the root of the problem:

      So if you make a little software program and it takes you 30 hours at, say, $60/hour...charge $1800 for it. That way, when someone "steals" it, you can sue that single person and get your money back.

      If an electrician spends 30 hours wiring a building at, say, $60/hour... he charges $1800 and then goes home. He doesn't get another nickle every time someone flicks a switch. What makes your 30 hours of work worth a potentially infinite amount of money, while his caps out at $1800?

      Where the electrician differs from someone writing the program is that he's got a contract in place for $1800 bucks. He doesn't have to wire the building, and then hope someone shows up to pay him something.

      But perhaps the software developer can learn from the electrician... raise the 1800$ first from future users (whether you find 1000 of them to pay $1.80... or 100 of them who want it badly enough to pay $18, then write and release the software, and then it doesn't matter how many copies get made.

      And then offer to support the software, or build additional features for $. And live off that.

      The point is that in a world where anyone and everyone can make copies for free, you can't have a business model where you charge for copies. Its not going to work. Your role in the new economy is producing the original... you have to figure out how to get paid enough for doing that to motivate you to do it.

      • by brit74 (831798)

        But perhaps the software developer can learn from the electrician... raise the 1800$ first from future users (whether you find 1000 of them to pay $1.80... or 100 of them who want it badly enough to pay $18, then write and release the software, and then it doesn't matter how many copies get made.

        Well, I agree, but some of the issues I see with this is that:
        - You have to catch the eye of a lot of people before you'll find enough people who want to support your work, and you'll still miss a lot of people w

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Yes there are issues.
          There are issues with the CURRENT model too, in that it is fundamentally broken.

      • by Solandri (704621) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:03PM (#34595620)
        Wedding photographers already went through this. They used to charge a nominal amount or nothing for shooting the wedding, but would charge you big bucks to order prints of the photos. Naturally, when scanners and photo printers became cheap, people would just scan the prints they had already bought (or sometimes even scan the ordering contact sheets), and print out their own copies.

        Today, wedding photographers charge big bucks to shoot your wedding. But the prints are usually free or at-cost. Some of them will even give you the raw files (digital "negatives") of the shoot so you can process the photos on your own in the future if you wish.

        When reality meets an outdated business model, there's a lot of inertia on the side of reality.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      *sigh* There's that same fallacy. The RIAA has washed your brain.

      The more people who see your work, the more people are likely to buy your work, provided it doesn't suck.

      Last year a publisher commissioned a study to find out how badly book piracy was affecting his profits. Since a book is usually out 2-4 weeks before the pirate copies hit the internet, they looked at that to see how sharply sales dropped when it did hit the internet.

      They were amazed to find that there was actually a sales spike when the pir

  • Is it possible that defense lawyers could make an argument that copyright law doesn't constitutionally cover Batman XXX because it doesn't advance arts and sciences [wikipedia.org]?

    (I'm not referring to their 1st amendment protection, but rather ability to prevent copying and distribution.)

    It's true that it seems that that argument would be going into "viewpoint discrimination" territory, but I would think that's only in reference to banning expression, not restricting its distribution.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday December 17, 2010 @03:02PM (#34590778)
    Perhaps this may end the RIAA's offense of suing hundreds of people at once?
    • no. they simply file as a class action and the courts seem to be sympathetic to permitting them to do that.
      • Perhaps my legal knowledge is rusty, but isn't a class action where a group of people file suit together against one defendent? (More accurately, they file a lot of individual lawsuits which get bundled together.) The RIAA (or some other big company) can't simply say "Class Action!" and sue a thousand people in one stroke.

        • by Stregano (1285764)
          Or so you think. This is going to get ugly the next time that the RIAA tries to sue people, hopefully. Since the porn dudes got their stuff twisted up, if I was the porn industry, I would sue the RIAA or whatever state allows the class action lawsuits to go through
          • Unfortunately, the reality is that any precedent set in this case isn't going to apply to the MAFIAA, for the simple reason that porn producers are Evil And Nasty And Disgusting while major music and movie studios are Good And True And All-American.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thethibs (882667) on Friday December 17, 2010 @04:24PM (#34591982) Homepage

    Ford has sued enough people that lawyers are taking out ads on his company name,' providing an image of an advertisement for such a search.

    What the hell does that mean? The words are english, but...

    • I came to the comments to help me with the same problem. Got the end and only left with confusion.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @04:59PM (#34592534)

      Look at the article, it has examples. I had the same initial reaction. The Google Adword ads read something to the effect of "Being Sued by Ken Ford? Call us for your defense!!!!!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It means so many people are getting sued by him, that his name/company is being looked up often by people being sued by him. Defense attorneys have realized that fact and have posted their own ads on search engines for when people look him up.

  • The MAFIAA tried this tactic during the early days of their little war against the pirates, and the judges swatted them down hard.

    This bunch never caught the precedence and got smacked for it. Money wasted.

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