More to Read With This Week's Cover, "Barely Legal," About Porn Pirate Hunter Evan Stone

PornPirates_KyleConfehr_small.jpg
Click to embiggen this illustration by Kyle Confehr
This week, the Paper Version of Unfair Park features a longer look at a guy who's already turned up here a few times over the past few months: Denton lawyer and Internet porn pirate hunter Evan Stone.

(Not that Evan Stone, though he is a Dallas native.)

The story details how Stone began his practice last summer, with a federal suit against 65 John Doe defendants -- listed anonymously because he didn't have names or physical addresses for the alleged pirates, just their IP addresses -- followed by settlement offers in the mail.

Pay $1,500 or $2,500, the letters offered, and the suit could go away without anyone knowing you'd been watching and sharing a triple-X Avatar parody. Refuse to play along, though, and you could end up served with a federal suit, named in federal court as a consumer of gay German porn.

Out of more than a dozen cases, with thousands of defendants, that only happened once -- to the guy whose cautionary tale begins this week's story -- and not one of these massive John Doe cases has even made it to trial. But as the story's comments thread suggests, those settlement letters keeping Stone in business look like nothing so much as blackmail.

In the story, Stone recalls first hearing about the anonymous mass-suit strategy in an ArsTechnica story early last summer -- but as commenters have pointed out, the English firm ACS:Law had already gotten into trouble across the Atlantic for running a similar operation. Of course, the leak of over 5,000 names and addresses tied to their peer-to-peer porn piracy cases probably didn't earn them any goodwill.

Here in the States, it's still an open question whether these suits will fly in federal court. Judges in West Virginia, and in Stone's cases here in Dallas, have said lawyers can't just throw thousands of defendants together in a single suit for BitTorrent sharing. A judge in Washington, though, recently disagreed. (Detractors will point out that the judge, Beryl Howell, was a lobbyist for the recording industry before she made it to the bench.)

For more detail on just how those IP addresses are tracked for a case, it's worth reading this court filing in Stone's first case, from Eric Green of Irving-based Remove Your Content -- one of a handful of freelance enforcement agents working with film producers and lawyers to make these cases happen.

For even more on Stone, you can check out prior coverage by Texas Lawyer and ArsTechnica.

Only recently, Stone's decided to focus on mainstream films -- independent, non-adult ones -- but it's still an interesting time for the industry, with porn producers banding together more than ever to come up with an answer to piracy. Two great recent stories cover the hit the industry's taken from piracy -- one in Portfolio, about the advent of YouPorn, and Susannah Breslin's self-published look at what's left of the industry, "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?"

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12 comments
H.W.
H.W.

This would be, what, the third cover story about the s-e-x industry in the last three months. Well, at least this one isn't defending your business model.

Rooster
Rooster

I wonder this guy could possibly be a bigger sleaze?

For every lawyer that seems to run a decent, honest practice, it seems there's 200 guys that graduated from a 12 tier law school that have to resort to this type of ambulance chasing because they can't get real work.

While I absoultely hate piracy, and am in a business it affects, reading this article made me want to take a shower....and it wasn't because it involved porn.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

There have been stories on several gay blogs about the havoc created in the lives of gay teens by this sort of money hungry crap. Anything that can possibly contribute to gay teen suicide should be questioned and I was sad to see that you failed to do that. The teen you mentioned had a very understanding Mother. This is not always in the case in the Bible belt. Imagine being a gay male teen with raging hormones and redneck parents and you get a threatening email from this man you seemed to celebrate.

Taylor
Taylor

As Schutze once famously said "I'd rather advertise to whores than whore myself out to advertisers"

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

That's a really good point, of course, and I thought the story of the one guy who was named in court illustrated it well, even if his situation could have been much worse. But I'm hadn't seen the stories you mentioned on gay blogs -- are they specifically about copyright settlement/threat letters like these?

I don't know how much the story celebrates Stone, though -- I think the sleazy side of Stone's practice is pretty self-evident, so what I wanted to do here was look at why he'd want to make his living this way.

H.W.
H.W.

Only an employee would know he said that. Or would repeat that here. Are employees still under orders to attack, or was that only for the other two cover stories?

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

Regarding the gay twist to the story........it it gay porn actors/producers that are requesting his services of this sleaze bag, so the blame with this is on the gay community for not doing more to stop this sort of activity. I think one of the companies mentioned, Lucas Ent, is owned by Michael Lucas and is entirely gay owned and operated.

The thing that baffles me is there is so much awesome FREE porn out there, I don't understand why anyone would want to download any fake acting pay crap.

Pay porn sucks.

Amatuer porn rules!

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

I haven't read the paper story yet but this blog post makes it sound like Stone isn't suing on behalf of the porn producers, he's just doing this for his own benefit, is that the case? Can just any asshole blast out lawsuits indiscriminately like the other Evan Stone blasting a load on Jenna Jameson?

Taylor
Taylor

not an employee, just think it's an awesome quote. And here's a freebie that defines your last comment, "When you have facts, argue facts. When you don't, pound your fists on the table"

scottindallas
scottindallas

maybe he's also suing the free porn sites. They probably should be sued, though I don't want them to change their business model either.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Nope, sorry that wasn't clear up above. Stone's suing on behalf of the producers or whoever holds the copyright to the film.

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