An Illinois man who copied 10 pornographic films and made them available on BitTorrent has been ordered to pay copyright holder Flava Works $1.5 million.
The damages, which amount to $150,000 per film, will likely spell financial ruin for perpetrator Kywan Fisher of Hampton, Va., and are the largest ever imposed in a case involving the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol, CNET reported.
Miami-based Flava Works specializes in gay pornography featuring black and Latino men. Its website features a lengthy terms-of-service agreement requiring visitors to agree to Flava Works' copyright restrictions before viewing any content.
A unique encryption code, inserted into the films when Fisher originally downloaded them from Flava Works' website, led to his downfall. Flava Works used the to dig up evidence and discovered that Fisher's actions had allowed nearly 3,500 downloads of the company's films, a legal memo in support of Flava Works said.
That helped the company overcome a hurdle that has stumped other entertainment companies seeking compensation for infringement: hard evidence. The courts have dropped thousands of lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers due to a lack of evidence.
As CNET pointed out, the crux of many cases rested on linking to the alleged offenders, but in May, a federal judge said the IP evidence alone was not enough to convict.
Fisher's extremely stiff punishment likely stems from the fact that Fisher presented no defense whatsoever.
"Given the materials submitted by Plaintiff in support of its motion and in light of the absence of any objection by Defendant, Plaintiff's motion for entry of default against Defendant 11 is granted," the judgment read.