Lawsuit Accuses 70-Year-Old Retired Widow of Downloading Porn via BitTorrent

Paul Lilly

We're fairly certain if you take a random sample of folks in their 70s and ask them to describe what BitTorrent is, the majority of them will tell you to hush up because you're interrupting Matlock. Even folks much younger who aren't entrenched in the tech world aren't likely to be all that familiar with BitTorrent, but they're all fair game for sue-happy firms looking to score quick settlements for big media.

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle , a Chicago law firm has been busy filing lawsuits against anyone and everyone around the country caught downloading copyrighted content via BitTorrent. One of the "Jane Does" in the case happens to be a retired widow and grandmother in her 70s. Like all the other Jane and John Does, she can choose to settle the suit by forking over $3,400, or fight her case in court where, as letters being sent out by the law firm point out, copyright owners can attempt to recover up to $150,000 in damages per file.

"It smacks of extortion," says the grandma, who claims she never downloaded any porn and doesn't know what a BitTorrent is. If necessary, she says she'll go to trial without a lawyer and "say to the judge, 'I have no idea how this happened.' If Sony can get hacked, if the Pentagon can get hacked, my goodness, what chance does an individual have?"

According to the law firm's letter, using an unsecured wireless network doesn't hold water in court, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation contends that isn't necessarily true.

"There is no legal doctrine that says you're responsible for what somebody else does on your Internet connection," said Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney at EFF.

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