Nor is it clear that the defendants are actually the right parties to sue:
Jane is in her 70s, a retired widow who spends her days doing volunteer work in the East Bay and fussing over her grandchildren. She also downloads porn illegally over BitTorrent....
This particular Jane (who didn't want her real name used for that very reason) said she's never downloaded porn and doesn't know what a BitTorrent is. She can't afford an attorney to make her case, but she's not about to settle either.
The article goes on to explain that Jane has no idea whether her wireless router is password protected or not. There are a number of young men living next door, however.
So, why file these suits demanding $150,000 if there is effectively no chance of winning? Ah, because the demand letters these attorneys send out (to 10,000 defendants so far) are
strongly suggesting that these "digital pirates" settle out of court for several thousand dollars. Letters to defendants helpfully remind them the amount is below what they'd probably pay in attorney's fees and that settling would avoid publicly linking their names to pornography.But the letters ask you to give the lawyers your credit card information, and they will settle out of court for $3400. Maybe Jane did not know that someone was using her wireless connection to download porn. As a commenter on the article points out, is Starbucks (with its wireless connections) next on the defendants' list? My guess is no, because Starbucks has the resources to fight this.
I am inclined to think it is time for a serious revision of copyright law. At the top of my list would be limits on demands (perhaps $5 on newspapers, $100 on books) unless there was evidence that a defendant was commercially reselling the copyrighted material. Any video where more than 20% of the frames had exposed genitals or female breasts would not be protected at all.