Woman chased by P2P porn 'trolls' fights back with lawsuit

Embarrassing innocent people into paying up claim

A US woman has decided to fight back against porn 'trolls' who demanded thousands of dollars from her for allegedly illegally downloading explicit material via BitTorrent file sharing.

Jennifer Barker of Kentucky said that in May she'd be contacted by a representative of several California pornographic distributors seeking 'shakedown' compensation for her alleged downloading of P2P videos she had no right to view.

Her suit described the demand - said to range from $1,500 to $5,000 per person for different individuals - as part of a new business model employed by porn companies to use threats to demand money under duress.

Not only had Barker not downloaded the material as claimed nor even heard of BitTorrent, the companies had targeted her without proof, using IP addresses culled from ISPs to form their case.

In fact, the scheme was designed to exploit a defendant's fear of having to employ a lawyer to defend themselves, and the embarrassment of being associated with porn downloading, to achieve its aims. It was also claimed that as many as 200,000 people might have paid up.

"These entities, various pornography purveyors, have filed suits in numerous venues seeking to extort money from individuals they claim have downloaded pornography from the Internet," read the suit.

"Once they obtain contact information, the pornography purveyors begin to shake down these individuals by telephone."

Not only were the companies acting without direct proof, such proof would be hard to gather. Individuals could have had their IP addresses hijacked or even spoofed, said the complaint.

The issue of rights holders pursuing those alleged to have downloaded content has become a theme of recent years, with numerous cases across the world. The usual targets are music and movie downloaders; this is the first time porn has been included in such activity.

Although so-called 'trolls' have had some success against the sites or software used for distribution of content, it's not clear that US law is as reliable when fighting individuals in the circumstances outlined in this case.

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