1) Locate an IP address of someone on the Internet
2) Go to the ISP hosting said address and say they are pirating stuff and you want their information so you can sue
3) Take information and contact person
4) Say that they can either go to court or settle up now, coughing up a relatively small amount of cash and the case will go away
Please notice at no point in the above is there any mention of digging up evidence of piracy. You just find someone whose history indicates they are nice people who don't want to put up a fight and put the arm on them. Lots of people would pay up just to stay out of legal trouble. If you're really ballsy, you don't even need to find an IP address. The RIAA famously sued one woman who was in her seventies and never owned a computer in her life, but they said she was downloading songs.
People started fighting back, exposing the Content Mafia's plan for what it was -- a shakedown. But the legacy lives on. All it takes is something people are afraid to fight back against. They don't have to fear for their lives. Just their reputations.
People like to think the porn industry is a happy bed of roses. But they overlook that, just because you may have an open and conscientious mind about sex, porn films are called "exploitation films" for a reason. For example, there was the Adult Industry Medics, a health clinic funded by the X-rated film industry and staffed largely by people who used to work in the industry. People tried to spin it as people giving back to the industry that gave them their livelihoods and being sex positive and all that. AIM closed itself down earlier this year because of lawsuits. Seems they were leaking information on the people they were treating to adult film producers in violation of doctor/patient confidentiality laws. Civil suits were being filed, so they pulled up stakes. Christie Canyon is a legendary adult film actress who talks about how the industry is positive and the horror stories people hear are exaggerated and how its been good to her. But when the interviewer asked her if she would encourage her own daughter to work in porn, Canyon was dead silent. People want to think there are no negative effects of the adult film industry, but for every one that stays in it, there are dozens that got out, stay out, and want to keep others out.
It's not just the performers who get exploited by the X-rated film community. Innocent people do, using the technique I described above. Despite its mainstream cache, porn is still taboo. This makes companies that pull the number more likely to get money since people are afraid of having their names associated with porn. This combines with the threat of a lawsuit fine of $150,000 plus attorney's fees or a simple settlement of $1-5,000 (the going rate) and people cave. The payout rate is higher than the RIAA/MPAA's, high enough that it actually factors into the business model some companies use -- estimates are the companies get more money from this than from making and selling the films (in fact, several of them have banded together to keep their costs low and maximize the money they get from this). Companies have become emboldened.
However, with the increase in people using porn and not being so ashamed, that also increases the risk that someone would eventually fight back, who wouldn't be cowed by the threat of social branding. It started just this last May. Gary R. Brown is the Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York and was hearing a case against several John and Jane Does. Brown pointed out three people in particular who were accused of downloading porn movies illegally (one of them was at work at the time and had proof). Brown pointed out these people had unsecured Internet connections so it was entirely possible someone else used their connections to download the porn. In other words, "You call what you presented proof? Show me some real proof," and he tossed the cases against them.
Seizing on this momentum is one Jennifer Barker. Barker is a Kentucky woman who five united companies tried to shake down -- K-Beech, Inc. and Third Degree Films (based out of Chatsworth, CA), Patrick Collins, Inc. (Canoga Park, CA), Malibu Media (Malibu, CA), and Raw Films (London. Yes, THAT London). She was successful in getting a judgment in her favor. Now, she has filed a class action lawsuit against all five, and others are interested in joining.
Porn will never be a part of everyday life. It puts a natural curiosity about sex up against the fact that the stuff might have been created with circumstances or actions that you don't want to know about. Even people like me who prefer couple's videos and the soft core stuff, we still don't really know for sure. And once it's out there, it never goes away, meaning some people will be living with a decision they wish they could undo. The companies making these things don't care about what effects it may have on you or the people they get to make it. They just want money out of you. And they'll try to get it one way or another.
Like I said...it's called "exploitation filmmaking" for a reason.