SAN FRANCISCO—Io Group Inc., parent company of gay adult studio Titan Media, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages from and an injunction against 244 anonymous defendants the company accuses of content piracy and civil conspiracy. The action, filed Aug. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges “[d]efendants reproduced, distributed and publicly displayed, through the [peer-to-peer] network ‘eDonkey2000,’ certain Io Group-owned audiovisual works.”
AT&T also is mentioned in the suit, though not as a defendant. According to court documents, the John Does “used an internet connection provided by AT&T to access the internet for the purpose of engaging in the infringing activity complained of herein.” Titan has asked the court to order AT&T to reveal the defendants’ names and locations.
The mechanics of the willful copyright-infringement claims are familiar, and the practice of suing individuals instead of the networks they employ is becoming more common in the industry. Lucas Entertainment filed two similar lawsuits in a Dallas federal court in July and August, though the sheer number of “John Does” and pirated titles named in Titan’s suit makes the latter’s effort stand out.
What is new and notable about Titan’s Aug. 19 filing is the allegation of civil conspiracy. Titan seeks to enhance the potential damage award and give the court additional grounds for enjoining the defendants’ future behavior and ordering confiscation of the spoils by tying all the Does together as a conspiring mob.
“[E]ach of the Doe defendants conspired with other individuals, including the other Doe defendants, to reproduce and distribute plaintiff’s copyrighted works,” court documents note. “Each of the Doe defendants conspired to provide other individuals with infringing copies of plaintiff’s works in exchange for receiving infringing copies of other works, including other works belonging to plaintiff.”
The list of pirated titles reads like Titan’s catalog, making remarkably clear the potentially devastating financial losses suffered by adult entertainment companies as a consequence of unauthorized content copying and sharing. The suit lists 91 titles—many award-winning or -nominated—Titan investigators discovered available in full on eDonkey2000 during April and May 2010:
Full Access, Alabama Takedown, Arcade on Route 9, Double Barrel, Bad Conduct, Battle Creek Breakdown, Breakers, Boiler, Boner!, Carny, Copperhead Canyon, Code Red, Cirque Noir, CopShack, CopShack 2, Command Post, Coyote Point, Double Standard, Desert Train, Tag Team, Distraction, Detour, Easy Inn, Eye Contact, Eruption, Fallen Angel, Fallen Angel III, Sea Men: Fallen Angel IV, Fallen Angel V – Horse, Folsom Fear, Fever, Folsom Leather, Farm Fresh, Folsom Prison, Folsom Undercover, Gorge, Gunnery Sgt. McCool, Home Invasion, Island Guardian, Jacked Up, Laid Up, Lifeguard!, Flux, Men’s Room II, ManPlay 4, ManPlay 10, ManPlay 11, ManPlay 21, ManPlay 25, ManPlay 26, ManPlay – Closed Set, Rough Trade, Shooters, White Trash, Deeper Throat, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!, 3 Degrees of Humiliation, Joe Gage Sex Files VOL. 2, ManPlay Xtreme, ManPlay Xtreme 3, Naked Escape, OverDrive, Men’s Room III, Playbook, Pumped-Up, Campus Pizza, Reflex, Shock Treatment, The Road to Redneck Hollow, Reserve Duty, RSVP, RX, Spy Quest 2, Screen Test, Special Delivery, SideEffects, Shacked Up, Slow Heat in a Texas Town, Side Tracked, Slammer, Surprise Package, Search and Rescue, Service Trade, Suite Dreams, Triage, 110 in Tucson, Tinderbox, Thrust, Telescope, Warehouse and WoodsMen.
According to the lawsuit, most of the titles were shared more than once, meaning if Titan is successful in gaining a judgment against each defendant, damages could top $14 million, exclusive of court costs and attorney fees.