The Paris Hilton sex tape, One Night in Paris, became the subject of a new round of pay-up-or-else lawsuits this year. Owners XPays Inc. tracked hundreds of individuals sharing the ‘movie’ on BitTorrent and eventually sued 843 John Does at the District Court of Central California in January.
XPays told the Court that they had “spent a substantial amount of time, money and effort to produce, market and distribute” the tape, and that their profits from Paris Hilton’s horizontal endeavors are now on the wane due to infringements on file-sharing networks.
Fast forward to this month and XPays attorney Michael Fattorosi has just won an expedited discovery from U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero.
“Plaintiff may engage in immediate discovery in this matter, including the issuing of subpoenas to cable operators and Internet Service Providers to produce any and all documents and/or information sufficient to identify the DOE defendants,” wrote Otero.
The ISPs involved in the case were given 7 days to notify subscribers that XPays were seeking to identify them. In turn, those subscribers were given 21 days from notification date in order to contest the subpoena.
However, according to documents sent by XPays to TorrentFreak last evening, the company is prepared to play a little file-sharing Russian roulette with people who are concerned they could be named in the lawsuit.
“XPays is pleased by the ruling of the Court that we can subpoena the names and addresses of those persons that illegally obtained our content. However, we are also very mindful of people’s privacy and would like to offer amnesty to anyone that would like to voluntarily come forward to resolve their case anonymously and with confidentiality. XPays is not pursuing this lawsuit with the hopes of embarrassing anyone or causing them any amount of shame. We merely want to protect our content,” the email reads.
“At this time anyone who has downloaded a free copy of the HotelHeiress.com Paris Hilton Sex Video aka One Night in Paris, can resolve this matter for $500. XPays believes this to be a very fair offer and one that is a substantial discount from any that will be offered in the future,” the email concludes.
It is worth pointing out that while XPays refers to people “illegally obtaining” content, and in the second paragraph people who have “downloaded a free copy”, the lawsuit they have filed is not related to these issues – it concerns the uploading or distribution of the ‘movie’ in question. Many more people will have downloaded the movie than uploaded it, so this ‘error’ by XPays conveniently helps to draw in more takers.
In addition to implying this is a downloading rather than an uploading amnesty, XPays has also put no geographic limitation on those who they are asking to participate in their scheme. This is interesting because XPays told the court that all of the 843 Does are residents of California. Perhaps, then, those outside California might be less inclined to settle. That brings the number of potential amnesty-seekers down a great deal.
That said, when compared to the cost of defending a lawsuit, $500 is a very small amount indeed and it is a very safe bet that XPays knows that. In fact, you can bet cold hard cash on their strategy being based on this risk-based calculation.
But like all those running these schemes, XPays is hoping that their nerve is stronger than those they target in this game of lawsuit roulette, that people won’t spin the barrel in the fear that the ‘click’ becomes a ‘bang’.
However, XPays are asking for $500 in order for people to opt out of game they may not even be involved in and they currently only have 843 bullets in their barrel aimed loosely at thousands of file-sharers. Furthermore, if the ISPs had 7 days to let the Does know they are being targeted, the 843 should be finding out who they are round about now. At this point, $500 might sound like a safe-ish option to them but why should it sound attractive to anyone else? More lawsuits to come? Only XPays knows that.
So, do you feel lucky?