Grandma accused of illegal porn download settles case, maintains innocence

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Debbie Courtney By Jennifer Thomas Debbie Courtney By Jennifer Thomas

GILBERT, Ariz. -- Debbie Courtney says she’s relieved now that a year-long legal battle that she's endured is over.

Last July, 3 On Your Side told you about Courtney's issue regarding a letter she received in the mail.
It accused the grandmother of illegally downloading pornography from a foreign company called Raw Films.

“I was shocked,” she said.

Courtney said she called the number on the letter and was told if she paid $150, the matter would be closed.

But she said she suspected the request was a scam and emailed 3 On Your Side.

3 On Your Side called the number on the letter, too, and spoke with the Miami attorney representing the porn company.

“It is absolutely not a scam,” Keith Lipscomb said.

He explained that someone from Courtney's IP address downloaded the porn so she is legally responsible.

He said online copyright infringement is a major problem and not just with porn.

Joel Tenenbaum of Rhode Island was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs on the Internet. He was fined $675,000.

That penalty makes Courtney's $150 settlement offer seem like pocket change. Still, she insists she did nothing wrong and refused to pay.

“I'm a single mom with children just trying to do the best I can like all the other moms out there,” she said. “I don't need something like this in my life. It's not something I would even consider doing.”

After our report aired in July, Courtney said she didn't hear from the company or their attorney for months.

Recently, however, she says the phone calls started up again. This time, she says the demand was increased to $3,000.

After a year of worrying about possibly being sued in court, Courtney said she caved in and compromised.

“I ended up negotiating an agreement with them,” she explained.

While Courtney's settlement prevents her from discussing how much she actually paid, she tells us it was a lot less than $3,000.

She says she wasn't happy about paying anything, but she's glad the ordeal is over.

“It's just like a weight lifted off your shoulders when it's gone,” she said.

All along, Courtney has maintained the person who did the illegal download was stealing her Wi-Fi connection which, at the time, was unsecured. She said her connection is now password protected and changes the password often.