Hundreds of New Jersey residents are being sued in what some say is a shakedown scheme by Strike 3 Holdings LLC. They're the owner of adult sites like Tushy and Vixen.

What companies like this do (they're not the first) is locate alleged porn pirates on BitTorrent then file thousands of lawsuits demanding damages of at least $150,000 each. They don't actually expect that nor do they actually want to go to court. What they hope for according to defense attorneys is to scare people so badly and more so embarrass people who are in relationships that these people will settle. How big will they settle? Obviously it tends to depend on what they have at stake. If it's a single person and just a copyright issue they might not settle at all. And that's often where it will end. If it's a married person whose partner would disapprove of the extracurricular viewing they've been known to settle for as much as $20,000.

$20,000!?

I was shocked when I learned this. Smacks of blackmail, doesn't it? One can only be blackmailed if you agree to be. Why would anyone settle for this outrageous amount of money instead of just coming clean to their partner?

But that's not the only form of embarrassment. There's also people who work as teachers or other sensitive jobs where they might not want their name being attached to such public filings. Still, $20,000? Two people in New Jersey caught in this trap have had to file bankruptcy over it.

Of course companies like Strike 3 say it's not out to embarrass anyone; it's all about copyrights. If that were really true and they wanted only to deter, why settle? Why not take a bunch of cases to court and create a much larger deterrent?

Anyway, don't say I didn't warn you.

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