Hard Drive Must Face Claims of Harassment

Rhett Pardon

SAN FRANCISCO — Hard Drive Productions must face claims that it is harassing a woman who was served with settlement demands for allegedly trading "Amateur Allure Jen" on a BitTorrent network.

The Arizona-based company on Friday was denied a motion to dismiss a suit waged by Liuxia Wong, who says her name came up when Hard Drive Productions subpoenaed the Internet protocol addresses associated with illegal downloading of its film.

When Hard Drive sent Wong a settlement demand for $3,400 she says she proclaimed her innocence. But the company didn't buy it, and even claimed it could sue her for $150,000. 

Hard Drive then filed suit against a single Jane Doe defendant using Wong's IP address and lowered its demand to $3,000.

Taking matters into her own hands, Wong later sued Hard Drive seeking a declaratory judgment that she is not liable for any copyright infringement and that "Amateur Allure Jen" is not copyrightable because the porn film "is not a work that promotes the progress of science and the useful arts."

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Wong has a case for declaratory relief because Hard  Drive initiated litigation in which Wong has potential liability. 

"Hard Drive’s argument that it has not named Wong and does not think she is likely to be the actual infringer rings hollow in the face of its settlement demands and communications to Wong," Gonzalez Rogers said. "[T]he allegations here are sufficient to establish that Hard Drive’s conduct creates a reasonable and reasonable apprehension that it will try to hold Wong liable for copyright infringement."

Hard Drive also failed to prove that Wong improperly filed her lawsuit in the Northern District of California instead of the Eastern District, which contains Solano County, where she lives Gonzalez Rogers also refused to dismiss Wong's action as duplicative of Hard Drive's pending suit.

"The rule is generally applied when actions are pending in different federal courts, which is not the situation here," Rogers wrote.

Hard Drive must file and serve its answer to Wong's first amended complaint by April 30.

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