Illegal porn downloading - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Illegal porn downloading

People in Massachusetts have become the victims of a dirty trick. They're getting letters in the mail that say they've illegally downloaded porn movies. Many of those people say they never downloaded the videos, but it turns out that doesn't matter. They faced with two choices: pay a fine or get taken to court. So is there anything you can do to protect yourself? Hank Investigates.

There's no way we can show you this movie without blurring almost all of it, that's because it's porn.

And this local man was flabbergasted when he was accused of illegally downloading it.

It started when his wife opened this letter--and freaked.

The letter says lawyers for an adult movie company accused her husband of copyright infringement of "illegally downloading and-or distributing" one of their movies called-well, we can't even say the title on TV.

Hank:

Did you illegally download pornography?

John Doe:

No I did not.

But the letter says he did - and turned out he had two choices: Settle the copyright infringement claim--and pay about $1750.

Or go to court and fight it--facing a fine of $150,000!

And if he opts for court - the letter informs him - his name will be disclosed in a public lawsuit.

To protect his reputation he's ready to settle.

Hank:

The only way to protect your name is to pay?

John Doe:

Yeah, it seems like guilty until proven innocent.

You too may be innocent. But if you have a wireless internet connection, you could also be the next one accused!

We found several adult movie companies are now hiring law firms to search for people who make illegal downloads-often of triple X films like She Males from Hell and Punk Rock Orgy in the Woods.

Then they send demand letters like these to people across the country.

Problem is if someone uses your unsecured wireless internet connection to do the download -or hacks into your secure connection-- it will be linked to your internet account - and you'll be blamed.

We drove around local neighborhoods and found all kinds of open wi-fi--anyone could have used them to illegally get "adult movies"--or anything else.

That's what this California grandmother thinks happened to her. She's a disabled 70-year old who has a daycare in her home---and who's wi-fi was unsecured. She says--she doesn't care who knows her name, but she did not download a pornographic movie. She went to court--and the judge told the movie company to go away.

Bobbie Jean Thomas, Grandmother

"I realize there might be some people out there doing this but if they are they know more about computers than me. I can hardly turn a computer on!"

This Cambridge attorney says hundreds of thousands of people are getting sued like this.

His clients are angry and feel trapped.

Hank

So it's more expensive to fight it than it is to settle

Attorney Jason Sweet, Cambridge, MA

Yes.

Hank

Even if you didn't do it.

Attorney Jason Sweet, Cambridge, MA

Correct.

The movie companies say they're just trying to find the people who really are stealing their copyrighted movies.

Attorney Marc Randazza

"I would have hoped that everybody should have learned since kindergarten: Don't steal.”

But in the search for the bad guys, lawyers say no question some good guys are getting punished.

HANK: Two things: one, if you have an unsecured wireless network—that is a huge risk. get that changed. Two--if you get a letter like this--and you might!--do not ignore it.

If you get a similar letter in the mail and you did not illegally download something check out The Electronic Fronteir Foundation for more information on what you should do:  https://www.eff.org/issues/file-sharing/subpoena-defense

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