Anti-Piracy Lawyers Accuse Blind Man of Downloading Porn

As the mass-lawsuits against BitTorrent users in the United States drag on, detail on the collateral damage this extortion-like scheme is costing becomes clear. It is likely that thousands of people have been wrongfully accused of sharing copyrighted material, yet they see no other option than to pay up. One of the cases that stands out is that of a Californian man who's incapable of watching the adult film he is accused of sharing because he is legally blind.

blurryMarch last year the law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver imported the mass litigation “pay up or else” anti-piracy scheme to the United States, and in the month that followed they targeted nearly 100,000 people.

In total, cases have been filed against more than 200,000 alleged infringers, many of which are accused of downloading and sharing adult films.

A significant number of the defendants are likely to be guilty, but there’s also a lot of collateral damage. Firstly it’s unclear how accurate the evidence gathering techniques of the copyright holders are, and even when they have the correct IP-address it doesn’t necessarily follow that the account holder on file is actually the infringer.

Doe 2,057 in the case of Imperial Enterprises v. Does claims to be one of these wrongfully accused persons.

This May he received a letter from Comcast informing him that Imperial Enterprises had filed a lawsuit against him for illegally downloading and sharing one of their adult titles — Tokyo Cougar Creampies. To some people this title may seem inviting, but it’s not the type of content Doe 2,057 is interested in.

Not least because he’s legally blind.

“To be honest, it’s a little ridiculous. My movie-watching ability is nonexistent. My kids watch movies, but they are 4 and 6, so they don’t watch porn either. Well, hopefully they don’t,” the Doe told the Village Voice Media.

Although it’s not impossible for blind people to be interested in porn – after all there are plenty of auditory stimuli and interesting dialogues – it’s not really the target group for this type of content. So if this blind man is innocent, who downloaded and shared the movie?

According to Doe 2,057 one of his neighbors must have used his open WiFi connection to grab the file.

“I didn’t have time to set up the wireless network in my old apartment,” he explained. “I was working 18-hour days, so I just told my wife to go to Best Buy and pick up a router. She installed it, hit next, next, finish, and — boom — that was it. We lived in a very upscale building; there was no riffraff. We just assumed we didn’t have anything to worry about.”

But now he does have something to worry about, and that’s the few thousand dollars Imperial Enterprises is demanding from him in settlement.

Although it’s absolutely not certain that a judge will hold him liable the alleged offense, like many other defendants he believes that settling is the best option available. Hiring an attorney will cost just as much as the settlement fee, but without any guarantee that he’ll be off the hook.

“The sad part about this entire porn thing is it will cost more to go to a judge,” Doe says. “At the end of the day, I’ll probably settle and pay the fee to make this go away.”

And he’s not alone. TorrentFreak has spoken to several people who swore their innocence but paid up just to get rid of the threat.

The copyright holders and lawyers are very aware of the position these defendants are in, but they gladly take their money. With most neutral observers, however, the whole scheme should raise an eyebrow to say the least.

Can we really call that justice?

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