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Porn Movie Pirates Beware, You May Be Sued

Publication Date: 
August 21, 2011
Source: 
San Jose Mercury News
Author: 
Howard Mintz

Professor Mark Lemley spoke with Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News on the similarities between the piracy lawsuits of the music and porn industries and the deterrent effect they leave on people.

In mid-July, Yolanda P. opened her mailbox in Visalia to find a letter that has been landing in tens of thousands of mailboxes across the country -- she was being sued by an adult film company for illegally downloading porn on her computer.

These allegations of porn piracy are now part of a torrent of legal battles unfolding coast-to-coast in an explosion of copyright lawsuits filed over the past year. From Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C., adult filmmakers are unleashing their lawyers in federal courts to sue John and Jane Does for stealing porn and sharing it on an increasingly porn-happy Internet.

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The porn industry's attorneys say they are on solid legal ground in suing en masse, arguing it is the only practical way to tackle widespread piracy. Steele also acknowledges that he hopes there is a deterrent effect to the legal campaign, and legal experts say that proved to be the case with the music industry, even though it suffered bad publicity when some targets turned out tobe misfires, such as people who didn't own a computer or were dead.

"That may have fizzled, but it made people at the margins nervous about file sharing," said Mark Lemley, director of Stanford University's Law, Science and Technology program. With the porn industry's lawsuits, he added, "People are going to think twice about doing this."