Grandmother Porn Lawsuit: 70-Year-Old Woman Sued For Allegedly Downloading Adult Entertainment

07/15/2011 08:58 pm ET | Updated Sep 14, 2011

There's something fishy about the lawsuit against tens of thousands of Internet users who allegedly downloaded copyrighted files. As the 70-year-old grandmother being sued for downloading pornography told SFGate, "It smacks of extortion."

Over the last few months, law firm Steele Hansmeier PLLC has gone after BitTorrent users with alarming ruthlessness, demanding cash settlements for illegally downloaded files and threatening penalties of up to $150,000 for those who take the case to court. According to tech blog TorrentFreak:

Unlike other lawsuits, the aim of the copyright holders is not to take any of the defendants to court, but to get alleged infringers to pay a substantial cash settlement to make legal action go away.

These settlements range from $3,000-12,000. While the goal of curbing Internet piracy is understandable, this particular case sounds less like lawyers coming up with effective ways to protect copyrighted material and more like lawyers terrifying people into giving them $3,000. Each. Especially when they seem to be completely indifferent to claims of innocence, like the one from the 70-year-old grandmother. The woman refused to pay the settlement fee and explained that she had never even heard of a BitTorrent.

SFGate reports:

To be clear, many – and maybe even most – of those accused in these cases probably downloaded the files. But it's easy to imagine scenarios where some didn't, yet still feel pressured to settle. Like, say, a widow in her 70s who, when asked by a reporter, didn't know whether her wireless Internet service was password protected. She did know, however, that a handful of young men lived next door.

But Steele slammed this defense, accusing owners of unprotected wireless service of wild irresponsibility. According to SFGate:

In an interview, he [Steele] said anyone who fails to secure their Wi-Fi is as responsible for the subsequent crimes or tragedies as a parent who leaves a loaded gun within the reach of a 3-year-old.

That sounds about right. Because a little free hardcore is just as tragic as the accidental death of a child. And a $150,000 fine for one 30-minute video is totally reasonable.

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