In recent years, file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.
These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have been a common occurrence in the United States for more than half a decade, and still are.
Malibu Media, the Los Angeles-based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is behind many of these cases. The company has filed thousands of lawsuits in recent years, targeting Internet subscribers whose accounts were allegedly used to share Malibu’s films via BitTorrent.
When the accused pirates don’t want to settle, Malibu generally ramps up the pressure. This is also what happened to Jenna Howard, a 29-year-old consultant from Houston, Texas.
When Howard protested her innocence and refused to pay the proposed settlement for downloading 15 pirated videos, the adult company came back with two spreadsheets of additional downloads that were linked to her IP-address.
This tactic isn’t new. Copyright trolls regularly provide lists of other downloads, of content they don’t own, to show that the defendant is a prolific downloader. However, in this case, the list is unusually long.
The spreadsheets provided by Malibu Media suggest that Ms. Howard’s connection was used to download fifty-four thousand torrents in recent years.
The downloads in question are all over the map, literally, with titles ranging from “100MB Woman Ass Pictures,” through “этот неловкий момент,” to “육룡이 나르샤” and “La casa di Topolino.”
According to a recent filing by Ms. Howard’s attorneys, the spreadsheets are part of Malibu’s intimidation tactics.
“Malibu also produced two spreadsheets that suggest Ms. Howard made over fifty-four thousand downloads consisting of an estimated 27 terabytes of data over a four-year period, which is an average of 31 items every day for the last four years, and literally hundreds of items on certain days, including for example downloads of movies in the hundreds and in languages that Ms. Howard does not even speak.”
“This leads to only two possible conclusions: first, either Ms. Howard’s network was hacked, or second, Malibu’s research is wrong,” Ms. Howard’s attorneys write.
They stress, however, that there is no credible evidence to suggest that their client is responsible for downloading all these files. They point out that their client was even accused of downloading dozens of files from her home connection while she was on her honeymoon.
“The spreadsheets also show that Ms. Howard downloaded 31 items on her wedding day, and somehow managed to download an average of 22 items at her home IP address each day of her international honeymoon when she was overseas in the Bahamas,” the filing reads.
The attorneys believe that the adult company has gone too far and ask the court to deny further discovery requests targeted at her Internet provider AT&T, including information about her download activity.
“Malibu’s shoddy research simply does not support the implication that Ms. Howard illegally downloaded the pornographic movies that are the subject of this suit, as well as an additional 54,000 other, unrelated, downloads,” the attorneys write.
“The supposed overlap between the downloads and Ms. Howard’s interests is also not credible. Malibu peddles smut as a commercial enterprise, and is trying to strong-arm a settlement from Ms. Howard while threatening to link Ms. Howard as a purveyor of its pornographic product.”
Malibu’s efforts are a textbook case of discovery abuse, the defense argues. They hope that the court agrees with this assessment and denies the request.
The full request for a protective order is available here (pdf), with help from FCT.