Utahns among thousands accused of illegal downloads

Published: Saturday, April 30 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

"How many people are going to be able to go to D.C., hire a lawyer and the time you go away from work?" Nelson said. "Most people are just going to say, 'OK, I'll pay the $2,000.' It's easy pickings for West Coast Productions."

Nelson's not wilting, however.

"I'll just take a vacation and go down there," Nelson said. "I'd be willing to do that because I just hate being bullied. I just don't believe that the courts would back them up."

In previous rulings, the district court hasn't always backed Dunlap's practices. To file a lawsuit against someone in the District of Columbia, Dunlap has to provide evidence that part of the offenses of the accused happened within the district. Judges have dismissed past Dunlap lawsuits because the alleged offenses of defendants didn't occur within their district. In response, Dunlap started suing people in their own districts, but their profit margins are small and doing so is costly, Jeschke said.

In addition to the travel costs Dunlap assumes by filing lawsuits in other courts, they also risk defendants challenging the complaint when it's filed closer to home, Jeschke said. Furthermore, it becomes easier for defendants to find attorneys licensed to operate in the district of the lawsuit, she added.

If the lawsuit stays in the District of Columbia, the cheapest resolution is probably to settle, said Charles Mudd, a Park City attorney who has represented people accused of illegal peer-to-peer file sharing.

"The settlement approach unfortunately, is probably the one with the most certainty and finality and least risk," Mudd said. "The only downside, of course, is that you're paying money."

Avoiding a lawsuit is as simple as securing wireless networks with a password and not downloading free content, Mudd said.

"If you're not paying for it, don't download it," Mudd said. "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

Mudd said he respects attorneys from Dunlap but disagrees with their practice of suing hundreds or thousands of people in a single suit. Doing so makes it difficult for a defendant's case to be considered individually, he said.

"The way that they are doing this, it just shows that they are a very greedy company," Nelson said. "It's just really sad to me that they would do this."

Email: sgarn@desnews.com

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere