Evan Stone's Battle Against Porn Pirates

A Denton lawyer devotes his life to fighting America's porn thiefs.

Up till then, hardly anyone had been willing to go after individual BitTorrent pirates. The US Copyright Group's suits had all been on behalf of independent films and small studios. At FUNimation, Stone had some success contacting Internet providers directly and convincing them to suspend repeat BitTorrent offenders, but nobody—least of all an anime producer with a rabid, plugged-in fan base—had been interested in getting a Metallica-like reputation as a band that sued its fans.

"I hate hardly anybody," he says, "but when I think about pirates, I do tend to think about a lot of them as smarmy entitled little brats." BitTorrent infringement is the most egregious sort of piracy out there, Stone says, because it requires that everyone downloading a file also shares it with everyone else. But there weren't many lawyers equipped to fight it.

"It was a total no-brainer," Stone says, the best possible confluence of geek know-how, entertainment business and pirate-bustin' fervor. "I happen to have the perfect set of skills to do this. And I'm not an expert at anything, but I know a ton of tech shit, and I did all right in law school."

When it comes to fighting pirates, all's fair for Denton attorney Evan Stone.
Danny Fulgencio
When it comes to fighting pirates, all's fair for Denton attorney Evan Stone.
"I hate hardly anybody, but when I think about pirates, I do tend to think about a lot of them as smarmy entitled little brats."
Danny Fulgencio
"I hate hardly anybody, but when I think about pirates, I do tend to think about a lot of them as smarmy entitled little brats."

These were uncharted legal waters, though, and Stone needed the right client to get him there—and then it hit him.

"I said, you know what, I know a whole bunch of people whose shit is pirated all the time that don't give a fuck about bad press."

From moving pictures to DVDs, the porn industry had been at the cutting edge of each technological revolution, until this one. On the Internet, pornography was thriving, but you could totally bypass the industry trying to sell it. By 2004 it started to show in the porn studios' bottom lines.

YouPorn and other YouTube knockoff sites made homemade porn incredibly easy to find, while some users uploaded clips from big-studio productions right along with it.

Many studios' answer to the flood of low-quality amateur porn has been to make their products even slicker, driving costs higher to help them stand out—like the $3 million Pirates of the Caribbean porn parody Pirates (2005), the most expensive movie the industry had made up to that point.

BitTorrent, though, undercut that whole effort. Beginning in 2002, BitTorrent made it possible to share huge files like movies, software and big bundles of music, plucking little pieces of each file from computers all over the world. As soon as you download a piece of a file in BitTorrent, you start sharing it with everyone else. Years of estimates by research firms say BitTorrent traffic accounts for around one-third of all traffic on the Internet.

"Between the BitTorrent and the tube sites that contain illegal content, they've put a lot of people out of business, and others have lowered their revenues," says Larry Flynt Productions president Michael Klein. "It's putting a big crimp on the industry. If you don't do anything, you're just gonna watch your business whittle away."

From 2004 to 2009, the porn industry's revenues shrunk an estimated 40 percent. "That's pretty consistent with the downturn we took," says Quentin Boyer, a spokesman for Pink Visual, a porn distributor that's organized a pair of copyright protection retreats for the industry in the last year.

The biggest issue, Boyer says, is that people have the same attitude toward porn that they had to music 10 years ago, when Napster was king and iTunes wasn't around yet: Why not steal? "Can we get the public to think of porn as something that they're willing to pay for again? We'll see," Boyer says.

Each company's been taking a different tack against piracy, Boyer says, and there's still no consensus about how to make the pirates pay. Peer-to-peer piracy, like file sharing over BitTorrent, is worth fighting, he says, but at Pink Visual, the risk of losing their fans probably isn't worth it.

"We need to improve the industry's image," Boyer says. "The truth of it is that if [copyright enforcement] creates a mindset in the user where they're hesitant to download porn for free, that's great. If, on the other hand, it's, 'I always knew you guys were scumbags and now you're shaking me down,' that's bad."

Through his work at FUNimation, Stone knew a guy in Irving who did rights enforcement for the adult industry—he prefers to remain anonymous, Stone says, because he's received several death threats. "I was like, hey, you've been fighting for these studios for years now, doing whatever you can outside of court," Stone recalls. "Are any of your clients interested in taking this up a notch?"

As it turned out, some of them were, and Stone parlayed that connection into work for a handful of porn studios, most notably Larry Flynt Productions—parent company of the Hustler brand. Beginning last July, Stone filed a series of Doe suits in federal court in Dallas, one every couple of weeks, each against hundreds or thousands of defendants at a time. It may have been unconventional, but—even though he hasn't won a single case at trial—Stone is confident it worked.

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28 comments
Scarlet
Scarlet

This couldn't have happened to a nicer scumbag!!!

"The Court also finds that a sanction of $10,000 sufficiently willdeter similar misconduct and adequately reflects the gravity of the circumstances.ORDER – PAGE 15Case 3:10-cv-01900-N Document 17 Filed 09/09/11 Page 15 of 17 PageID 360IV. THE COURT ORDERS ADDITIONAL SANCTIONSTo make all interested parties to this action whole, the Court further orders thefollowing additional sanctions:1) Stone shall serve a copy of this Order on each ISP implicated and to every personor entity with whom he communicated for any purpose in these proceedings.2) Stone shall file a copy of this Order in every currently-ongoing proceeding in whichhe represents a party, pending in any court in the United States, federal or state.3) Stone shall disclose to the Court whether he received funds, either personally or onbehalf of Mick Haig, and whether Mick Haig received funds for any reason from any personor entity associated with these proceedings, regardless of that person’s status as a DoeDefendant or not, (excepting any fees or expenses paid by Mick Haig to Stone).4) Stone shall pay the Ad Litems’ attorneys’ fees and expenses reasonably incurredin bringing the motion for sanctions. The Ad Litems shall file an affidavit or other proof ofsuch fees and expenses with the Court within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order. Stonemay contest such proof within seven (7) days of its filing.Stone shall comply with these directives and supply the Court with writtenconfirmation of his compliance no later than forty-five (45) days after the date of this Order.CONCLUSIONStone requested that the Court approve preconference discovery aimed at identifyingthe Does. The Court instead ordered the ISPs to preserve Stone’s desired informationpending the Court’s resolution of the Discovery Motion. Stone nonetheless issuedsubpoenas, obtained some Does’ identifying information, and attempted to contact anORDER – PAGE 16Case 3:10-cv-01900-N Document 17 Filed 09/09/11 Page 16 of 17 PageID 361unknown number of Does, presumably to make settlement offers. The adage “it is easier toask forgiveness than it is to get permission” has no place in the issuance of subpoenas. TheCourt therefore sanctions Stone in the amount of $10,000, to be paid into the Court’s registryno later than thirty (30) days after the date of this Order, and imposes additional sanctionsas set forth above.Signed September 9, 2011._________________________________David C. GodbeyUnited States District Judge"

Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

i gate this guy so much now why doesnt he just go make money some other way geez what an asshole.

Tim
Tim

One thing this article doesn't even mention is how the lawyers in the UK, who started this whole thing, are in deep trouble over there for doing this exact same thing. They most likely will be disbarred or even locked up. They are *only* doing it for their own profit, leaked emails from the UK were even proof of it. Bragging about how much money they were going to make, and what they were going to buy with it. (from what I read on a news site about it).

Nothing like the mafia trying to extort money out of people. The only true pirate here is the "lawyers".

Beverly Zellner
Beverly Zellner

this is the stupid thing about file sharing that these studios and music moguls dont seem to understand. take brad pitt, for example. i never saw any brad pitt movies. i never understood the appeal of brad pitt, just didn't get it. when the mexican came out, i downloaded it.then i undetstood what the big deal was about brat pitt. so now i make it a point to see his movies. and i pay for them,. i stopped downloading illegally quite a while back because i knew this day was already here and i've got enough porn to last lifetimes.

Scarlet
Scarlet

Odd the author doesn't mention the delicious irony of an intellectual property lawyer using a slightly modified trademarked coat of arms stolen from the East India Company all over his official stationery as well as his website Copyrightdefenseagency.com.

Also curiously unmentioned is that failed mid-level telecom manager Eric Green (sorry dude, your name became a matter of public record when you filed with the court, easily Googled by anyone with a computer) or his company didn't have a private investigator's license as required by Texas law when he filed the papers.

What a scummy scam these two are running and the author makes them out to be heroes.

Chris
Chris

What a loser this guys is and it is really a bit sickening how the author fell in love with him and tries to portray him a s a good guy....really terrible journalism

Lucas1989
Lucas1989

Dude! This pirate chaser, Evan Stone is a PEDOPHILE. He's actually been accused of child molestation and grooming. It's all over Twitter! Everyone knows... the lawsuit filed by his niece is alleging "inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor".

This guy looks weird - bloody pedophile! Rapes 7 year olds! Evan Stone is a disgusting, fat, bald and obese child molester.

Domino
Domino

Bit-torrents are outdated, likely to contain viruses, and are just unreliable sources since they've grown in popularity. Experienced pirates have moved away from them and onto more reliable means. I'd say this Stone guy is in the stone ages and needs an update on P2P.

The article mentioned two days for a file download with 46 IP's attached. Two days? Come on! Two gig files can be downloaded in two hours if the clients are on broadband. Many P2P's don't even request that you share content anymore. Apart from that, it's easier now than ever before to spoof your IP address, hardware, and location. Stone said he's a technology guy, so he should know this. This whole article screams out "I'm a broke lawyer and need cheap publicity." by going after amateur sharers instead of the people who make money off their pirated content with low quality reproductions.

And really, who cares about porn? The porn industry is working harder at making anti-pirating technology than going after people who steal it. It's been in the headlines for the past two years. Stone, where have you been? Don't you pay attention to the media? The same can be said for all pirated media. Developers and pirates are playing cat and mouse and this poor Stone guy is the snail. Get up to date, man!

Hide your court losses and go to work for a firm where you can get some real world experience. Then dump your gay porn stash, the gay pirate crusade outfit, and go join some white hats in a reputable law firm.

John
John

Money Extortion.. It's the new lawyer scam!

Abuse
Abuse

Now here is a fun question, how is it you managed to contact "Alex" if Stone did not provide you his name and contact information?

Why is he suing Alex now after attempting to extort money from his Mother who is innocent?

Why not mention of Stone filing false copyright papers to support his extortion campaign for one of the movies?

While you write a nice story about Alex, one wonders why he is not granted the same "alleged" status of anyone else accused of a crime and not yet convicted?

Yellow journalism at its finest, way to be impartial in reporting a story.

Catman
Catman

Getting caught with your pants down... lol!

Rooster
Rooster

I'll start this out by saying I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate internet pirates, be they porn, software, music or otherwise. I'm in a business piracy effects...

...But if you're ever looking for a reason why people think lawyers should all be rounded up like a heard of cattle and shot, you can use a picture of this jagoff as your poster child.

Grandma Moses leaves her internet router unprotected, and some junior lawyer from a 12th rate law school is going to sue her for stealing porn under the guise of protecting an industry...

The only thing this sleaze is protecting is his pocketbook, and that ladies and gentlemen is what is wrong with our legal system.

Tim
Tim

nevermind

Tuli000
Tuli000

Surely the coat of arms is in the public domain by now, since the EIC was dissolved over 100 years ago.

Wonderfully ironic choice, that coat of arms -- since the EIC maintained its monopoly by decree (in law) and by force (in India). You would think he would prefer to be associated with Edison or Adam Smith or somebody, with the emphasis on makers not takers.

Damino
Damino

It's going around insanely fast on Twitter:

"@RT Evan Stone - P2P hunter and pirate chaser - molested his 7 year old niece - PEDOPHILE!"

Jesus... seriously?!

I'm just sitting here reading these tweets eating a bag of chips and laughing. XD

Abuse
Abuse

be careful pointing out the obvious...Patrick seems to just delete comments that show Stone has been doing illegal things on pursuit of a buck.Maybe if you did your research you'd have found someone more worthy of a story.

Rooster
Rooster

"This whole article screams out "I'm a broke lawyer and need cheap publicity.""

Yup. And sadly the Texas Bar allows jagoffs like this to practice. This guy isn't praciticing law, he's using his law license to extort people out of $1,500 a pop.

If the legal profession ever wonders why they're held in such low esteem, they can look at this guy.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Well, the point of mentioning Alex up top is that Stone didn't need to mention his name and contact information, because, right or wrong, it's all in the public court record.

The Texan
The Texan

Well, you can "12th rate law school" all you want, buddy, but I know for a fact he knows the difference between "heard" and "herd." The former is the past tense form of "hear"--not to be confused with "here". (We can cover that distinction another time) The latter refers to a group of animals, like cows, which, context suggests, is what you actually mean. If you want try to rip somebody from a supposed position of social superiority, start by spelling your (not you're) words correctly.

Tim
Tim

I agree, he is totally abusing our justice system.

Abuse
Abuse

Oh so out of the thousands Stone has filed lawsuits against, you picked 1 person out of a hat to be Alex?

Why not mention of the Copyright Defense Agency Stone founded, using the East India Company Coat of Arms as a logo, and how it was a former cell phone middle manager with a spreadsheet and the ability to hit print screen (oh and watch gay porn to "confirm" it was the right film).

How about a basic lesson in how bittorrent works, that when they join the swarm they are then enabling the same infringement they seek to "stop". The standard client Stone was using uploaded as well as downloaded. How is assisting in the commission of a "crime" you stand to profit from moral or legal?

How about doing 4 minutes worth of online research into the hive of villainy and scum Stone is pursuing. Mind you there are hundreds of pages to read, but debunking most of Stones claims took all of 30 minutes, I know I did the research.

How about a story about how the companies Stone represents are seeing a large drop in popularity. And how that will be spun as the pirate destroying a studio rather than public outrage at blatant cash grabs with threats of outing trying to pressure the innocent into settling to avoid the stigma caused by accusation, based on a "tracking system" that has never been held to scrutiny and proven to be accurate.

How about a story about how noncommercial file sharing is not generating the magical billions they seek to extort from their clientele.

How about Stones attempt to use the threat of damages of up to $150,000 on a filing for a film that did not qualify for that amount of damages under the law.

While he likes to paint himself as something he is not, competent, Stone is anything but.While you suggest he got the model from USCG, they got their model from ACS:Law and 2 minutes of research shows the lead solicitor in that case has been reprimanded and is now on the hook for damages of filing frivolous claims.

How about how Stone stopped providing more details to identify the alleged pirates after it was shown he was matching the wrong P2P clients with the wrong IP addresses. Gee that would call into question the methodology he was using to target people and if it actually meets the burden of evidence.

How about the Federal Laws requiring these cases to be filed in a court with personal jurisdiction over the accused and not across the country to impose an undo burden.

While you gloss over the "oopsie" of Stone sending out subpoenas in violation of a court order, you left out that during that time his extortion mill continued to send letters to those people, the names he obtained illegally, and managed to extract some settlements.

Oh and its nice you skipped over my question about Stone venue shopping and filing false copyright documents, that is illegal to do... but but but pirates!

The law only matters if you can abuse the process to get a payday I guess. And it gets you a glowing puff piece in a local paper.

Research, its not just for those meddling kids at the Huffington Post.

Rooster
Rooster

Hit a little too close to home, huh?

Lucas1989
Lucas1989

Yes... he IS a pedophile. Hence the "Evan Stone - pirate chaser and p2p hunter - sexually abused his 7 year old niece" on Twitter.

Sick bastard, Evan Stone is.

Rooster
Rooster

Nah, if I've learned nothing else in internet forums, whenever someone gets butt hurt, the furst theeng thay tea off on is grammur.

I don't have a problem with people "caring about their own pocketbook." I do have a problem with lawyers abusing the legal system to pad theirs though.

That to me goes way beyond "the audacity of anyone who happens to care about their pocketbook".

I can definitely see how you and I would disagree on that.

Gram murr nazi
Gram murr nazi

Your a idiot! Every body noes it two! Your focus ing on the rong points of his poste. Lettuce get back on top pick. Oh kay?

The Texan
The Texan

Nah, I just think your comment was a banal, predictable, ad hominem attack that inevitably degenerated into more banal, predictable comments about the legal profession and the audacity of anyone who happens to care about their pocketbook. Personally, I would have thought you'd have made a witty rejoinder about my own poor editing, but that would have required you veer off the path of well worn cliches and populist bilge. I'm bracing myself for "I know you are, but what am I?"

 
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