Porn Purchase Proves Cripplingly Costly


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A man convicted of sharing ten pornographic movies via BitTorrent has been fined $1.5 million — the maximum penalty available under US law. The irony of the subject’s case is that he is one of the seemingly few people who actually paid for his porn in the first case.

Producers Flava Works brought the case after examining illegally shared copies of the movies and using an encryption code that identified the individual original purchaser. The company says it has evidence that 3,449 subsequent infringements (as people shared copies of the files) can be traced back to the man.

That was enough for a slam-dunk case, at least in comparison to the usual method of tracing an IP address from the act of sharing and using that to pin the responsibility on an individual, a tactic that has come under legal question in recent cases.

While the man doesn’t appear to have had much of a defense, he hardly helped his case by not showing up to the court hearing.

As the copyright infringement was ruled willful because the defendant specifically agreed not to share the movies as part of the contract of purchasing them, that was $150,000 for each movie.

With the facts of the case seeming clear-cut, it seems the only chance the man has of escaping the fine (or rather personal bankruptcy) is to test the theory put forward by some lawyers that the way the law allows huge variations in copyright damages without any clear relation to actual financial harm caused is inherently unconstitutional. If he wants to pursue that line of argument he’s certainly going to have to rethink his attitude to visiting courtrooms.





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