Turns Out, the Porn Industry Is as Sleazy as the Music Business

Categories: Tech
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When you read a description like "Las Vegas attorney ... who represents a major adult film company," it's a safe bet that the fellow being described probably isn't fighting poverty or working on a human-rights campaign.

And in this case, that bet would be the right one. Marc Randazza has been busily filing lawsuits against people he accuses of downloading unauthorized copies of porn videos. Some of the people being accused -- by Randazza and others -- are innocent. And even the guilty ones probably don't deserve to be threatened with possible financial ruination.

NBC Bay Area News reporter Vicky Nguyen's story about "Porn Copyright Trolls" says that according to Randazza, of the 30,000 cases he's pursued, "only four of the accused were innocent."

"I think that happens as often as you see a unicorn," he told Nguyen. Got that? Four of every 30,000 unicorn sightings are legit. Readers who spot a unicorn (with those odds, there must be a few of you) are encouraged to bring their stories to me -- photographs or video would be a real plus.

Meanwhile, there are the stories of people like Bobbie Jean Thomas, a 78-year-old Richmond woman who received a threatening letter from a Los Angeles attorney accusing her of illicit pornmongering. It took a year, but eventually the case against her was dismissed.

Interestingly, Randazza was instrumental in the successful legal fight against Righthaven, a company that existed just to sue people for republishing newspaper stories. It was the ultimate copyright troll.

The porn business is probably more hurt by piracy than is just about any other kind of media industry. The Internet is positively festooned with free porn, much of it pirated. But even when it's not pirated, the Internet has a way of absolutely destroying its value. Unlike with scripted movies and television shows, one porn video is pretty much like any other (at least, within each, uh, sub-genre). There is no longer any reason that anyone should pay for porn when whatever they might be looking for is just a click away, either legitimately or not.

Hence the industry's desperate, panicky tactics. "Attorneys for the adult film industry are taking a page from the music industry and filing mass lawsuits to stop porn piracy," Nguyen writes.

When "taking a page from the music industry" is being used to describe you, it's probably a sign that you need a shift in strategy. But don't look for that to happen anytime soon now that the lawyers are involved. The tactic is to threaten and settle, often for a few thousand dollars. "People don't pay because they didn't do it, Randazza told Nguyen, sounding a lot like the copyright trolls of yore. "People pay because they did it or it wasn't them and it was somebody in their household."

Mitch Stoltz, a staff attorney for San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, retorted that lawyers like Randazza "don't really care whether people have actually infringed their clients' copyrights or not."

Taking a page from the music industry, indeed. On the next page are the words "The End."

Dan Mitchell has written for Fortune, the New York Times, Slate, Wired, National Public Radio, the Chicago Tribune, and many others.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

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SJD
SJD

This is one of Randazza's filings (can't provide a link, otherwise my comment will be "held for moderation" till the end of the Internet): Case 2:12-cv-00646-LDG -GWF   Document 1 20. LMH is the author of the original works of expression “Dawson & Jeff,” “Cade Fucks Jeff,” “Zeke’s First Time,” and “Joel Fucks Jeff”, [sic] motion pictures and sets of still photographs registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Copies of the copyright registrations are attached as Exhibit 10. 21. LMH is also the author of the original works of expression “Jeff Plows Dawson,” “Josh Rides Jeff,” “Jeff and Derek,” and “Jeff Cums in Colby’s Mouth,” motion pictures and sets of still photographs pending registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

SJD
SJD

This is from one of the Randazza/Liberty Media's recent filings  ( http://ia601206.us.archive.org/11/items/gov.uscourts.nvd.87087/gov.uscourts.nvd.87087.1.0.pdf ) 20. LMH is the author of the original works of expression “Dawson & Jeff,” “Cade Fucks Jeff,” “Zeke’s First Time,” and “Joel Fucks Jeff”, motion pictures and sets of still photographs registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Copies of the copyright registrations are attached as Exhibit 10.21. LMH is also the author of the original works of expression “Jeff Plows Dawson,” “Josh Rides Jeff,” “Jeff and Derek,” and “Jeff Cums in Colby’s Mouth,” motion pictures and sets of still photographs pending registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Conservative
Conservative

I hereby certify that all Liberty Media pornographic movies do not, and by law CANNOT be the subject of a copyright monopoly.  The United States Constitution, the highest law of the land, declares that copyright is only for the purposes of advancing the sciences or the useful arts. I hereby certify that all Liberty Media pornographic movies that I am aware of absolutely positively do not advance the sciences or useful arts. I hereby certify that all Liberty Media pornographic movies that I am aware of are video recordings of actual criminal activity (prostitution).  A recording of a real actual crime taking place cannot be subject to copyright. The End. I hereby certify that Liberty Media pornographic movies that I am aware of are CLAIMING to be protected by the US Government under copyright provisions. I hereby certify that Liberty Media does knowingly and willfully claim copyright ownership of pornographic criminal video recordings which they know cannot and do not qualify for Copyright protection.  This constitutes premeditated Fraud on the count of claiming nonexistent copyright to the public and it constitutes Perjury when the claims were/are made in sworn court testimony. Why is the Judge allowing Liberty Media to get away with Perjury and Fraud? I hereby certify that all Liberty Media Pornographic Movies that I am aware of are free of copyright.  Everyone can download them and upload them and spread them as much as they want. Liberty Media movies are pretty awful and I do not really recommend anyone spreading their movies, but in the event you choose to do so, it is completely legal to copy them (unless they are willing to admit that they used underage boys and girls in which case things could be different). If Liberty Media would like to change the law all they have to do is amend the US Constitution with an Amendment that says something like "Pornography is hereby declared to advance science and is subject to copyright monopoly protection.  Recordings of real actual crimes taking place are also eligible for copyright monopoly protection because criminal activity advances science and the useful arts." Until somesuch amendment is passed, pornographic movies are legally copyfree.

0utshined95
0utshined95

Unfortunately, the case of People v. Freeman, in which the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of pornography production and against the charges of pandering related to prostitution, makes Liberty Media works protected by law. I say unfortunately because that ruling set a precedent creating a system in which pornography is practically ABOVE the law. Thank you so much, California.

0utshined95
0utshined95

Marc, you wouldn't happen to represent Michael Whiteacre, would you? Just curious...

SJD
SJD

...and to see what kind of "useful art" is involved in these cases, please look at this document,  #20 & # 21. Make sure you don't drink or eat. Randazza threatens alleged infringers with 150,000 fine -- average income of an American family. For a violation that, in public perception, is no more serious than double-parking. That alone makes this man a monster. And if you read this, you'll understand my anger.  This man, who cares only about money, has an audacity to call an organization that made this world a better place to live, liars??? Thanks to everyone for seeing things as they are. 

SJD
SJD

And what about another copyright troll, Gill Sperlein? He uses you as a local counsel and he is your friend. You run very similar, almost identical, extortion businesses. I assert that Gill Sperlein of San Francisco not only does not care if he targets wrong people, but he KNOWINGLY blackmails innocent people, lots of them. You know I can prove it easily. So cut the bullshit.

SJD
SJD

Oh, you do care! Tell us about Antonio A., whom you wrestled into paying because he has assets, not because he downloaded that obscene garbage. You know better than me that he did not.

unicorntugboat
unicorntugboat

@twitter-18149463:disqus Your actions speak louder than words. Trumpeting the tugboat theory and suing innocent people using the negligence theory says you don't care.

Cynthia Conlin
Cynthia Conlin

Four out of 30,000 is unrealistic.  It has been documented that in many instances at least 30% of the John Does accused are not the illegal downloaders.  In one opinion about a similar case about the copyrights to an adult film, the Court stated:   > Digital Sin, Inc. v. Does 1-176, 2012 WL 263491 *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 30, 2012). See full opinion at http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2012cv00126/390249/6/

DieTrollDie
DieTrollDie

So I guess Mark has actually seen a unicorn 4 times.  ;)   Thanks for running the story here.  From the NBC Bay Area piece, Mark states that people only pay if they are guilty (or someone in their household did it).  Using that logic, I guess the people that don't pay are innocent.  I bet we are going to see lots more unicorns.  Cheers and have a happy 4th of July! DieTrollDie :) http://dietrolldie.com Check out this site also http://fightcopyrighttrolls.com/ 

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Unlike you, the EFF has something called "credibility."  Calling them liars makes you look like even more of a jackass than you already do, to the extent such a thing is possible.

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