lawsuit
Porn is frequently pirated on the internet and it’s not uncommon for those who download and distribute this kind of content online illegally to be hit with lawsuits. After all, the content is owned by the studios that produce it and distributing it online without their permission is illegal. A couple of lawyers though this presented a nice opportunity to extort money out of unsuspecting internet users who pirate porn, it worked for a while, they raked in some $6 million.

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The two lawyers have now been indicted on charges of fraudulently going after porn pirates with notices of copyright violation. The users were forced to pay around $6 million combined in settlement fees.

Lawyers Paul R. Hansmeier and John L. Steele ran an elaborate scam. They allegedly acquired copyright to pornographic content through shell companies and then uploaded it to file-sharing websites like The Pirate Bay. They then went after downloaders of the videos with copyright infringement lawsuits and obtained their names.

Once they had the downloaders’ personal information, they would push them to settle the lawsuit for around $4,000 on average instead of $150,000 judgment that a court case could pass against them. If anyone fought back, they would dismiss the lawsuits in a bid to prevent their scam from being blown.

Even though they owned the copyright and were technically within their rights to claim damages for infringement, they hid their involvement in the uploading process. The prosecution maintained that “defendants used extortionate tactics to garner quick settlements from individuals who were unaware of the defendants’ role in uploading the movie, and often were either too embarrassed or could not afford to defend themselves.”

Both now face 18 charges for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, among others.

Filed in General.. Source: gizmodo