Movie Companies Seek More Than $ 10 Million In Hack Damages From LiquidVPN * TorrentFreak
Home > Lawsuits > Applications and sites >
The makers of popular films such as “Hunter Killer”, “Automata” and “I Feel Pretty” are seeking more than $ 10 million in damages from VPN provider LiquidVPN. The film companies are asking the court to render a default judgment since the VPN provider did not appear in court. Meanwhile, LiquidVPN’s website appears to be gone.
A few years ago, piracy lawsuits were fairly straightforward. The copyright holders would prosecute either the alleged file sharers or the operators of pirate sites.
In recent months we have seen a new generation of lawsuits filed on behalf of directors of films such as “Hunter Killer”, “Automata”, “Survivor” and “I Feel Pretty”.
These lawsuits target VPN providers, who are generally viewed as third-party intermediaries. This includes LiquidVPN. The company was taken to court in March, shortly after the former owner was sued in a separate lawsuit.
The current owner, Puerto Rican company 1701 Management, is said to be related to US resident Mr. Muszynski, who continued to operate the service. While running a VPN doesn’t violate copyright, film companies accuse the service of encouraging and facilitating piracy.
VPN copyright infringement
The complaint cites a variety of other instances where defendants have directly or indirectly referred to copyright infringing activity. This includes a screenshot from Popcorn Time which shows the Millennium Survivor movie. The film companies claim that, through various public statements, LiquidVPN has “encouraged” users to use its service to pirate movies.
“The LiquidVPN defendants describe their VPN service as a tool to” watch Popcorn Time undetected by your ISP and P2P tracking software “and promote it as a tool that can be used to hack copyrighted content. “without risking getting caught by your ISP or someone else,” they wrote.
Despite the serious allegations, 1701 Management and its alleged owner did not respond to court. As such, film companies are now asking for a default judgment in their favor.
The film companies claim that Florida resident Mr Muszynski is the driving force behind storage company 1701 Management, which bought LiquidVPN from its former operator two years ago. According to legal documents, there are still claims about unpaid payments for this deal, which the film companies have taken over from the previous owner.
The main allegations, however, relate to copyright infringement. According to the complainants, it is clear that LiquidVPN has crossed a line and should be held liable for direct and contributory infringement of copyright, among others.
No safe harbor
The default judgment motion argues that LiquidVPN is not entitled to a safe haven defense because it has not implemented a policy of repeated infringement. Additionally, the company did not have a registered DMCA agent.
“The LiquidVPN defendants have no loophole in liability as they do not implement a policy to end repeat offenders and have not even registered a DMCA agent with the Copyright Office,” the film companies write.
The repeat infringer angle is remarkable because many other VPN services also do not take action against repeat counterfeiters. VPNs typically don’t log IP address allocations, making it virtually impossible to track repeat offenders.
No newspapers, no excuse
Film companies argue that this is not a valid excuse, as LiquidVPN has voluntarily chosen not to keep logs.
“[T]LiquidVPN defendants cannot use their policy of not logging their subscribers’ access to provide anonymous IP addresses as an excuse not to terminate repeat infringers. A defendant who refrains from doing anything to prevent infringement is not reasonably pursuing a policy of repeated infringement. ”
These and other claims are new issues and there is little case law related to VPNs. However, without a defense in LiquidVPN’s court, these arguments will not be actively challenged in court.
Millions of damages
Overall, film companies seek compensation for a variety of reasons. This includes the maximum legal damages of $ 150,000 for each of the 66 works complained of. This amounts to $ 9,900,000. In addition, film companies are asking $ 1,650,000 for DMCA violations.
The case also has a branded touch. Hawaiian company 42 Ventures, which is operated by anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper, owns the âPopcorn Timeâ brand and is asking $ 100,000 for unauthorized use by LiquidVPN.
In addition to the damages, the film companies are also seeking an injunction that requires LiquidVPN to terminate the accounts of repeat offenders. Additionally, the service should block access to the YTS.MX, Piratebay.org, rarbg.to, 1337x.tw, and popcorn-time.tw pirate sites.
Interestingly, the mentioned Pirate Bay domain does not point to the official site, but to a Pirate Bay proxy. However, it is not certain that blocking action is really necessary at this point.
At the time of writing, the LiquidVPN website appears to be gone, as it is currently throwing a Cloudflare connection error. The site’s customer area is still online.
A copy of the motion for default judgment, filed with the US District Court for the Southern District of California, is available here (pdf)