These two women are just two examples of what attorney Mitch Stoltz calls victims of "copyright trolls." Stoltz is a staff attorney specializing copyright and intellectual property law for the San Francisco- based Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"They don’t really care who they’re targeting; they don’t really care whether people have actually infringed their clients’ copyrights or not," Stoltz said. He says the so-called "trolls" use special software to identify IP addresses they suspect of stealing copyrighted materials. Then they file mass lawsuits against thousands of “John Does” threatening to sue unless the defendant agrees to settle for a few thousand dollars.
"A lot of times they’ll say 'pay us and we’ll go away,'" said Stoltz.