Lawsuit accuses Hawaii residents of using file-sharing software to illegally download movies

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Sharing can get you in trouble.

Film companies are cracking down on Hawaii residents who are downloading and sharing movies.

A lawsuit was filed Friday against 16 people in Hawaii, accusing them of using file-sharing software and sharing movies with others.

The lawsuit claims that each of the defendants could be liable for up to $150,000.

We’ve learned that it’s possible to download and share illegal videos without even knowing it. So how do you prevent that?

KHON2 spoke with an expert who says you need to be careful when using file-sharing software, and it’s best to avoid certain ones altogether.

A company called Headhunter, a movie company subsidiary, filed the lawsuit against 16 Hawaii residents for copyright and distribution infringement. They’re accused of downloading a movie that was just released and sharing it with others online.

“So actually as you are downloading a copy of the movie the BitTorrent software announces to the internet that this person at the IP address has the movie or at least a piece of it here to share with other people,” said Kerry Culpepper, attorney for Headhunter LLC.

He says the company has 18 similar cases pending here in Hawaii, each of them with one to 20 defendants.

“The ultimate objective is to deter piracy and to try to make people realize that there are risks to using this type of software to illegally make copies of our client’s movie,” Culpepper said.

We’ve learned that using file sharing software can lead to problems if you’re not careful. You might download and share illegal movies without even knowing it.

“Yeah, absolutely if you’re not familiar with the software or how it works and you try a Torrent software just to get a free show and you don’t know what you’re doing absolutely if you leave it on and you’re sharing it out you can be liable,” said Tim Caminos, CEO of Supergeeks.

Caminos says when you use file-sharing software, you become part of a large community that shares all types of data, and you may not always know what you’re getting.

“You may just want to stay away from those because when you’re downloading those Torrent-type software, for the most part, a lot of people are using them to pull movies and music offline from other users that have basically a library community of thousand and thousands of other users,” Caminos said.

He adds that you also run the risk of getting viruses or malware when using file-sharing software. He says other file-sharing programs like Dropbox or Google Drive are usually safe.

The company that filed the lawsuit points out that the main goal is to stop people from illegally downloading the movies, so people are warned before the lawsuit is filed.