Malibu Media LLC is suing the residents for breaching copyright laws by downloading the films. Residents from Ada, Adrian, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Holland, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Portage, Traverse City and Wyoming are being named in the case.
The 20 lawsuits were filed against “John Doe” in order to protect the defendants’ identities throughout court proceedings.
The company is asking for people to stop downloading their material and pay damages and legal fees.
The company said they target repeat downloaders of copyright works, including “Erotic Stretching and Sex,” “Girly Girls” and “Naughty and Nice.”
According to court documents, the files are being downloaded with a BitTorrent file-distribution system that breaks the files up and makes them easier to share.
Malibu Media did not return requests from The State News for comment.
The company has cases in Chicago, North Indiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia, in addition to the ones in Michigan.
Jeffrey Antonelli , a partner at a law firm that has represented more than 300 defendants in past Malibu Media cases, said the situation often becomes a lose-lose from the beginning.
“I think it’s an unfair fight when companies go up against consumers who download the work and don’t try to reproduce it for profit,” he said.
In one case, when the defendant filed a motion to quash a previous court decision, the motion was denied.
“A number of (Malibu Media’s) copyrighted works have evidently been making the rounds on BitTorrent. (Malibu Media) wants to put a stop to it,” the response read.
In a statement to the court, the defendant said the lawsuits “are designed to intimidate innocent subscribers and force them to settle — regardless of liability — simply to avoid a public accusation that they illegally downloaded pornographic material.”
Antonelli said his firm has represented clients in almost every state that a Malibu Media-related claim was filed and he has only seen one case in Pennsylvania go to trial.
Some defendants have alleged the company makes more money in settlements from the lawsuits they file than from the work they produce.
Antonelli said although the financial records for Malibu Media are currently unknown, he has heard the same concerns from others.
“People are concerned that they (Malibu Media) are making too much money off the lawsuits instead of looking at the source of infringement and taking it down,” he said.
Antonelli said he hopes consumers are given more warning about what they are about to download as a result of the cases.