Potentially trying to avoid a PR disaster after suing a 67 year-old Wisconsin grandfather for $600,000 because his 12 year-old grandson downloaded four movies, the MPAA has offered Fred Lawrence a deal: pay $4,000 over 18 months to settle the case. But Lawrence says he doesn’t have the money.
Lawrence was contacted earlier this year when the MPAA tracked an IP address downloading and sharing four movies on the P2P service iMesh to his home computer. He says the family actually owns three of the movies and his grandson had no intention of breaking, nor knowledge of copyright laws. The $4,000 deal is the same one the MPAA offered to Lawrence in March, but without the option of paying in installments. Lawrence refused to pay, saying that his grandson made an innocent mistake and he personally would never download a movie.
When the story was picked up by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the MPAA told the paper it was not asking for “anyone’s sympathy” and did not care what the public thinks about its tactics. But that opinion has apparently changed, and an attorney for the MPAA contacted Lawrence on Wednesday with the new offer.
Still, Lawrence says his position hasn’t changed. “I don’t want to sound like a smart aleck, but $4,000 might as well be a $1 million,” he told the Sentinel. “We are budgeted. We have a fixed income. I don’t have even an extra $250 a month.”
Lawrence added that he’s currently looking for an attorney to defend him in the lawsuit and still doesn’t understand what file sharing is.
If Lawrence is successful in fighting the lawsuit, the MPAA could legally turn around and sue the child. However, doing so opens up other potential issues, as it is much harder to sue a minor than an adult, especially for damages the MPAA is claiming.