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Settle up: voicemails show P2P porn law firms in action

The pitch isn’t subtle. Lawyers behind the recent wave of mass file-sharing lawsuits in the US want to earn quick settlements from defendants rather than litigate years-long cases, so it’s no surprise that their settlement efforts are persistent. Settlement amounts are set at a few thousand dollars—enough to hurt but less than it would cost even to get a lawyer started on defending someone. In addition to the money, there’s the time—years of one’s life tied up in a court case—and the fact that most of these cases involve “adult content.”

The lawyers know all of this, and their settlement folks make all these points explicit while attempting extract cash from defendants. One such defendant, targeted in a mass file-sharing porn case in Illinois, provided us with a snapshot of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of these settlement attempts.

The defendant doesn’t live in Illinois, but starting a few months ago, he began receiving phone calls from someone in the Steele Hansmeier law offices. (John Steele, based in Chicago, has filed all of the current mass file-sharing lawsuits in the state; numerous judges are displeased by his tactics.) The calls have continued almost every business day since; the defendant doesn’t answer them any more, which means that he has ended up with a lengthy collection of voice mails, some of which he shared with us.

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