BitTorrent File Sharing Finally Has Porn Producers Crying Onkel in Dallas Federal Court

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Let's just say this isn't quite the direction the art guys took with Der Gute Onkel.
Maybe you were shocked to discover that copy of Der Gute Onkel you downloaded wasn't, in fact, a meditative German cop drama from 1998. Or maybe that feel-good family porn video was exactly what you were looking for. But if you pulled it off a BitTorrent site in the last, oh, four months or so, one of these lawsuits might be for you.

German porn producer Mick Haig Productions filed 670 suits yesterday in U.S. District Court in Dallas against John Doe defendants who've been sharing Der Gute Onkel, identified only by their IP address and Internet Service Provider. It's only the latest of a handful of BitTorrent porn-sharing suits filed in Dallas federal court since July, all by plaintiffs represented by Denton lawyer Evan Stone. (No, not that Evan Stone.)

Stone's other lawsuits -- hundreds of them, all against John Doe defendants -- involve such titles as Missing and Kings of New York, by the New York-based gay porn studio Lucas Entertainment, Larry Flynt Productions' Barely Legal School Girls: No. 6, and, but of course, VCX Limited's Debbie Does Dallas.

"They just kind of laugh and they continue to pirate with impunity," Stone told me this morning. "There's no real stigma attached and there are no repercussions." So why now, and why Dallas, for the porn industry's fight against torrent sharing? Jump for more from Stone.

Stone says he got into these cases thanks to a friend, who he declined to name, who does "non-litigation rights enforcement for the adult industry." His various methods, whatever they were, worked great against all kinds of hard-core law-scoffers, all but the ones sharing videos on BitTorrent. In court, though, a motion for discovery can unmask the perv behind the IP address. (It can get expensive, though, Stone says. Comcast, for instance, charges $120 for every customer they look up and notify about the suit.) As one Slyck.com author points out, judges have made it particularly easy so far to get those names from ISPs. 

The cases have all been filed in Dallas, Stone says, not just because he and his industry contact live around here, but because porn producers have an easier time establishing copyright here. Showing proof that you've applied for a copyright is good enough for the Northern District of Texas, Stone says, while in other jurisdictions you'd need to hold the copyright already -- which is either time-consuming (there's an eight-month backlog, Stone says) or expensive ($800 to expedite the application).

Once he has names to go with the IP addresses, Stone says he'll mail off a letter telling the shadowy fan o' the flesh-flick that their torrenting ways haven't gone unnoticed. "Almost everybody that has replied to my letters has replied, 'Hey you caught me, I'm ready to comply,'" Stone says. "We've had several defendants settle or begin making payments." Settlements, Stone says, of "between $1,500 to $2,500."

While the rest of Hollywood's gone for the heartstrings with plaintive appeals about how file sharing hurts gaffers, Stone says the adult industry's happier to sue because, well, they could care less if they come away looking like assholes. "The adult industry isn't as worried about bad press," Stone says. "If it's going to recoup revenue, it's going to recoup it. They're worried about protecting their bottom line, and to them that's theft."

Der Gute Onkel File Sharing Complaint
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