U.S. District Judge John Lee in Chicago has granted a default judgment to Flava Works, Inc. (a porn video production company) against Kywan Fisher for $1.5 million plus attorney’s fees and costs, for illegally downloading porn via BitTorrent. This judgment reflects the maximum penalty available under copyright law. Forbes reports this is the largest judgment yet in the “hundreds of thousands” of BitTorrent suits. DieTrollDie predicts that copyright trolls will exploit this case to frighten people into  settling. This all started as a run of the mill mass filing. But the judge severed the defendants, and, unfortunately for Fisher, he was the weakest prey at the edge of the herd. He was a paid member of Flava Works and had agreed not to copy or distribute movies, plus he was accessible and could be served. He ignored the summons and hearing, so the court entered the default judgment and exigent penalties, sending a clear warning to would-be copyright infringers.

This case should be distinguished from a suit filed earlier this year, Flava Works Inc. v. Gunter, decided by Seventh Circuit Judges Richard A. Posner, Joel M. Flaum and Diane P. Wood. In that case, Posner reversed the copyright infringement finding by a U.S. District Court in Chicago, holding that the defendant, a proprietor of myVidster, was neither directly liable nor contributorily liable because copyrighted content was not stored on servers and it was not proven that myVidster encouraged infringement.