In a court case that has resulted in the largest ever damages penalty awarded in a BitTorrent case, a court in Illinois has ordered a man from Hampton, Virginia to pay $1,500,000 ($1.5 million) to adult entertainment company Flava Works for sharing just 10 of its gay porn movies on the popular file-sharing website.

Made up of penalties of $150,000 per movie torrented (the maximum possible statutory damages allowed to be handed down under U.S. copyright law), at one and a half million dollars, it’s a truly staggering sum to pay, especially when you consider the millions of copies of Hollywood movies shared on a daily basis. But it’s also a charge that the judges behind the decision hope will act as a deterrent to other illegal file-sharers downloading and leeching copyrighted content on BitTorrent.

According to Flava Works, the company had obtained detailed personal information of exactly who had shared its movies before pressing charges – the company reportedly embeds encrypted code within every single video downloaded that can easily be used to identify exactly which paid account it was bought from. That, combined with the terms of agreement on the company’s website that states users are “expressly forbidden” to copy its films, as well Flava’s understanding the copies uploaded went on to be downloaded ‘at least’ 3,449 times, left the defendant with no way out.

“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. Judgment is entered in favour of the Plaintiff Flava Works, Inc., and against the Defendant in the amount of One Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,500,000.00),” the judgement reads.

That the frequency of such court cases are increasing is unsurprising - the publicity built up from the likes of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has widened the rift between illegal file-sharers and copyright enforcement agencies - but the severity of the charge is. With users on BitTorrent sharing tens if not hundreds of copyrighted movies, videogames and software, it’s only a matter of time before even more users are handed similar punishment.

Richard Birkett

Source: Torrent Freak

I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.