Man fined $1.5 million in damages for sharing 10 porn movies

By on November 2, 2012, 4:30 PM

A Virginia man, Kywan Fisher, who was accused of sharing 10 adult movies via BitTorrent is being asked by an Illinois Federal court to pony up a whopping $1,500,000 in damages. The stiff judgment is the largest amount ever awarded in a BitTorrent copyright case, reports Torrent Freak.

It's worth noting this lawsuit is a little bit different than your typical illegal file-sharing lawsuit, however. The two main differences -- the videos being watermarked and Fisher now showing up for trial -- made this a fairly open and shut case.

Watermarking is the practice of embedding something uniquely identifiable inside a product or other work. As it turns out, every Flava Works subscriber has a unique code assigned to them. When one of those subscribers downloads a video from the website, that unique code is injected into the file. If the user shares that file, the watermark and will continue to travel with the video. This process allowed Flava Works to identify the video's origin and, in this case, they knew the string "xvyynuxl" was linked to Fisher's account.

The second reason for the large settlement is the fact Fisher simply didn't show up to defend himself. After considering Flava Works' uncontested evidence and Fisher's apparent, willful infringement, Judge John Lee issued the $1.5 million judgment -- the largest amount ever awarded in a BitTorrent piracy case.

The 10 videos Fisher was accused of downloading were "infringed or downloaded" at least 3,449 times by others, according to Flava Works. When you take this into account and crunch the numbers, the decision weighs in at around $434.90 in damages per upload.




User Comments: 29

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1 person liked this | GeforcerFX GeforcerFX said:

Is that supposed to be NOT showing up for trial?

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Ouch!

It seems to me that the Porn industry is even more aggressive than the MPAA in the copyright infringement cases.

gobbybobby said:

While $434.90 in damages per upload. is a bit much

this guy had it coming!

1 person liked this | Guest said:

He said stiff judgement

Tygerstrike said:

It was only a matter of time untill this type of judgement was handed down. Everything you do on the web is tracked somehow and someway by somebody. You are not smarter then the ppl who have to run and track this information. If we were, ppl wouldnt get busted for piracy and such. I dont feel bad for the gentleman, he brought it on himself. We should all learn from this and try not to share files.

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Lol Tygerstrike; you are using the word "you" and "we" pretty loosely, and that's also a fallacy, as a lot of us here at sites like TECHspot are the ones in these industries.

Guest said:

Every teenage boy better watch out then, might end up bankrupting your parents

Seventh Reign Seventh Reign said:

I mean really ... if you want porn just do a bing/yahoo video search. Way better than Torrenting and completely legal.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I mean really ... if you want porn just do a bing/yahoo video search. Way better than Torrenting and completely legal.

Streaming of full HD movies (if you find them) is still illegal.

1 person liked this | Cota Cota said:

One thing I had never understand is this:

Prostitute: (aka hooker) gets paid for sex -> Crime, felony and socially wrong.

Porn: Pays two people or more (unrestricted sex, previous sex, mixed sex and/or preferences) to have sex and record them to so a lot of people watch them -> Legal and socially accepted.

WTF!!

Shouldn't the guy be suing back?

Littleczr Littleczr said:

It was only a matter of time untill this type of judgement was handed down. Everything you do on the web is tracked somehow and someway by somebody. You are not smarter then the ppl who have to run and track this information. If we were, ppl wouldnt get busted for piracy and such. I dont feel bad for the gentleman, he brought it on himself. We should all learn from this and try not to share files.
I think your statement is naive and you are underestimating the consumer. I have seen the consumer time and time again find clever ways to get around all of the so called "pros" attempts at anti piracy measures.

In regards to this man and his porn I feel that it is unjust and disagree with the ruling. Unless he made income out of the sharing.

Guest said:

Too bad this man isn't a woman:

Confucius say: Girl who sits on Judge's lap, gets honourable discharge.

Guest said:

Maybe he didn't show up coz he was too busy having a w4nk.

treetops treetops said:

Its not the first time someone has been overly fined for pirating. This is definitely a insanely high amount of money for the crime. Making a example of one person is not what America is about. When someone steals a candy bar we don't randomly give out fines 100 times higher then normal to try and scare people. This is a injustice.

Nick D Nick D said:

Ironic that he will end up in jail, like many others for similar offenses. Increasing the burden on lower income people (part of taxes to keep these people in jail), which in turn increases reliance on piracy.

Tygerstrike said:

Guys piracy is a choice. Ppl choose to willingly break the law even though they know there will be consiquences. I choose to not pirate. I choose to respect the laws of the land even when I disagree. I cant understand personally how ppl make these choices. Im poor, but I dont steal movies. I go find something else to do. The world is filled with other things to do. I read a book. I go spend time with friends. I choose to keep myself out of potential trouble. The gentleman who is facing this fine made a choice. It was the wrong choice. Now he has to pay out a ton of cash for that. Yea his life is boned now and this ruling will follow him until he dies. Its just not worth it. Im betting he thought he was smarter then the ppl who run his ISP. Im also betting he sat there and thought that HE would never get caught. Only a fool goes through life not learning from thier mistakes, the wise learn from other peoples mistakes. Try and learn from this fools mistake. This isnt going to go away. This type of ruling is going to start showing up more and more and we will see more reports of 4am raids on private citizens. Either buy the movie/game/song you want or just wait untill you can. The alternatives lead to actions such as this person is facing.

Guest said:

Stiff judges or judgements?

gobbybobby said:

Downloading a movie is not stealing, you hear all the time (well at least on UK national news) about porn company's going after downloaders of porn, accusing 100s of people at a time, seems the porn industry are really on the attack. Theres so much free (and legal) porn on the internet it makes no sense to me for anyone to go out of the way to find and torrent a porn movie!

I had a friend that used to download alot of music illegitimately, but today I, I mean they use spotify, pay for the premium service and enjoy music in the knowledge the record label is getting paid, (oh and the artist might see a few pennys too) Now this is an example of a service, that my friend is willing to pay for that has the latest artists, ready for me to stream anywhere.

I have a friend that downloads alot of TV programs, his argument is that, most don't air in the UK on the same day and sometimes not for months after the US showing. Also services like netflix, don't have the tv programs ready right away, sometimes they don't get them for 6 months +, so downloading said TV show the morning after its US release is usually the only answer, Personally I wait, but I did go over and watch the Big band theory season 6 up to this weeks episode yesterday. Note that I personally own seasons 1-5 on blue ray and will no doubt buy season 6, please don't sue me, I will try and forget what I watched.

If a service that actuly had the TV programs you want to watch at a decent price was to come along, I am sure my friend would stop all his torrenting.

Its easier to torrent than it is to watch TV. And instead of organizations trying to stop people from torrenting (Yep my ISP has the pirate bay blocked, that I only use to get totally legal Linux releases and other open source software from) , they should focus on developing services that have the latest TV shows, and the latest programs,

Tygerstrike said:

@Gobby

See the problem is this. Ppl are thieves. Ppl are cheap. Given that you can get it for free vs. having to shell out your own money, free always wins. This is why we havent seen the services available that you suggest. No company wants to try and make a profit against a product or service that can be readily obtained for free. Its just not worth the investment. I know just the general idea of anyone making profit strikes terror into the heart of half the posters here. But in order for a company to stay in business, they need to show growth and profitability.

It still boils down to making a choice. And youre half correct on your opening statement. Downloading a movie you paid for is not illegal.

veLa veLa said:

How does the old saying go? Getting a verdict, well that's one thing. Getting the money, that's another thing.

Guest said:

How many IPs downloaded the videos? Did this guy make any profit from the videos? Good luck getting 1.5 million from most people.

TJGeezer said:

How many IPs downloaded the videos? Did this guy make any profit from the videos? Good luck getting 1.5 million from most people.

Especially from a guy who couldn't afford to travel to Illinois for an "open and shut" trial. It would have cost him his gardening job. Okay, I made all that up. But does anyone really believe that if the guy were rich he'd have been put on trial in the first place?

At least it's nice to know not all federal judges belong to the Hollywood movie or music mafias. Some report to the porn-producers. Maybe one or two even feel beholden to concepts like reasonable penalty for a given offense, but so far they seem to be on vacation when these trials come up.

Mavrickx888 Mavrickx888 said:

The gentleman who is facing this fine made a choice. It was the wrong choice. Now he has to pay out a ton of cash for that. Yea his life is boned now and this ruling will follow him until he dies. Its just not worth it. Im betting he thought he was smarter then the ppl who run his ISP. Im also betting he sat there and thought that HE would never get caught. Only a fool goes through life not learning from thier mistakes, the wise learn from other peoples mistakes. Try and learn from this fools mistake.

While he was undoubtedly in the wrong, I think the problem here is the outcome of the ruling. To me, the crime doesn't really fit the punishment. Sure, he pirated a video and shared it - nefariously or not. Sure he failed to turn up in court. All of which are completely illegal and he should be punished for it. So, what... he's charged 1.5 million dollars? 1.5 MILLION dollars. What did they do; get a random number generator, set it to 7 digits and let it rip?

It just seems like they're trying to create fear, instead of actually trying to address the issues involved - There's civil unrest due to lack of food, so you cut the head off of a thief who stole fruit instead of addressing the food problem. You're not going to get 1.5 million dollars from the average "pirate", so scare tactics like these aren't going to do anything but piss more people off.

Tygerstrike said:

@mav

When you are dealing with this type of settlement, its not about generating fear. It is solely about punitive damages. This gentleman had to know what he was doing was illegal and he did it anyways. This is the punishment. This is what he has to pay. I personally dont like the amount the guy has to pay, but HE has to pay it. Thats the cross he has to bear for sharing copy protected files. Reguardless of my personal opinion, this is what the judge found was a fair and reasonable price for his misdeeds. If anything everyone should know about this ruling because it is so high. Maybe the Judge was secretly trying to get a message out to the rest of the public, I doubt it tho. More then likely it was the plantiff who asked for 3mil and the judge cut it in half. Only the plantiff can assign a value to the product that was shared. The judge has to met out punishment.

Plus im 100% sure there were many C&D orders. Many opportunities for this gentleman to plea out and pay less. Its only when it goes to full trial that you see rulings like this.

Mavrickx888 Mavrickx888 said:

@mav

When you are dealing with this type of settlement, its not about generating fear. It is solely about punitive damages. This gentleman had to know what he was doing was illegal and he did it anyways. This is the punishment. This is what he has to pay. I personally dont like the amount the guy has to pay, but HE has to pay it.

Regardless of personal responsibility, that figure just seems ridiculously absurd. I mean, you might as well go and commit armed robbery and steal the physical media; you'll only be set back a hundred grand or so and a few years in prison for an act that's potentially infinitely more damaging to yourself and others. Obviously that's a gross simplification, but you get my point.

I'm not for letting this guy off the hook by any stretch of the imagination. I just have an extremely hard time comprehending the purpose in attaching such bloated fines to these cases. Let's face it, statistically speaking, more than likely it will take this guy another life time to get anywhere close to paying the fine, so what's the point?

Tygerstrike said:

@mav

I would suggest you look up the total meaning of "punative". Basically it is punishment in order to ensure that the individual NEVER does it again while paying the victims for the crime involved. It is punishment. Its either 1.5 million or some serious jailtime. Personally I see this going to appeals. There is no way any individual entity can or would pay 1.5 mil. I'm betting that it will be dropped to atleast half that. If not more.

Im guessing that number was generated by the lawyers for the plantiff. Something in the 3-4 million. The calculate that by how many times his file was shared vs how much revenue that the porn company lost due to them being able to just download for free instead of going to the porn companies website and having to purchase it. They prolly factored in the lost POTENTIAL revenue of each customer as well. Since it is potential revenue and not actual revenue the Judge had to hack it all in half. Reguardless, this not only sets a precedent about piracy, it also nails home the point that piracy costs everyone. Perp and victim alike. Just fair warning, this is going to get far worse before it gets any better. JUST SAY NO TO PIRACY. If you feel you are smarter then them or you have some workaround, forget it. You have no idea what security measures are embedded into that movie/game/music you just pirated. Its just not worth the headache.

Mavrickx888 Mavrickx888 said:

this is going to get far worse before it gets any better.

And that's the saddest part of this story...

Guest said:

Apparently a gay porn company hahaha this guy...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flava_Works

Tygerstrike said:

@mav

I agree, and the only thing that will stop this, is something ppl will not do. Stop pirating!! All it will take is a significant drop in piracy numbers and the lawmakers ect. will back down and move on to the next big issue. Its sad that given rulings like this ppl still wont stop.

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