US court orders 21 pirate site operators to pay $ 1 million each in damages * TorrentFreak
The entertainment industry’s battle against pirate sites is often described as a cat-and-mouse game.
Site operators are often anonymous or located in exotic countries, completely ignoring all legal threats.
Take The Pirate Bay, for example. While the site’s founders were doomed over ten years ago, the site continues to thrive. It can still be accessed from its original .org domain name, but the current operator is unknown.
Pirate Bay is just the tip of the iceberg. There are literally thousands of pirate sites in all kinds of flavors. Some offer a wide variety of content while others specialize in a niche, such as “pinoy” movies and series.
Pinoy is the term used by Filipinos to refer to Filipino culture and content, including entertainment. This content is the core business of the Philippine media conglomerate ABS-CBN, which has been quite active in US courts in recent years.
ABS-CBN pursues pirate sites
While US media giants rarely sue pirate sites in their own territory, ABS-CBN has sued more than a hundred. Earlier this year, for example, she filed a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit against 21 operators of “John Doe” sites in a federal court in Florida.
The defendants primarily operate smaller “pinoy” streaming sites. Legal documents list 40 “pirate” domains, including pinoymovies.org, pinoyhd.net, pinoysflix.su, 123fullpinoymovieshub.com, and craigwhittakermp.co.uk.
At first glance, craigwhittakermp.co.uk is a strange name on this list. The domain was previously connected to Tory MP Craig Whittaker, but was later taken over by hackers, who turned it into a streaming portal.
As is often the case in these lawsuits, none of the accused appeared in court. This prompted ABS-CBN to seek a default judgment, including a permanent injunction and damages for copyright and trademark infringement. Last week, that petition was granted by District Court Judge James Cohn.
“Millions of damages”
Without a word from any of the defendants, the court approved the claim for $ 1 million in damages for trademark infringement against each of the site’s operators. In addition, six of the defendants must also pay between $ 30,000 and $ 90,000 for copyright infringements.
Finally, the operator of thephilipinochannel.su has to pay an additional $ 10,000 for the cybersquatting, as the domain name is similar to one of the trademarks of ABS-CBN.
The order is a massive boon for the media giant, at least on paper. However, without knowing who the operators are and where they are located, it will be quite a challenge to get paid. And that’s assuming the defendants have the financial means to pay.
ABS-CBN is aware of this problem and has anticipated it to some extent. In addition, there is a more important objective, and that is to make sure that the sites are no longer available. On this front, the media giant has succeeded.
Advertising revenue and domains entered
The default judgment includes a permanent injunction that obliges advertising agencies and payment providers to hand over the income generated by these pirate sites. These funds, intended for services such as Popads and Google Adsense, were previously blocked.
“All funds currently blocked by financial institutions, ad services, ad networks or ad platforms, payment processors, banks [â¦] must be immediately (within 5 working days), transferred [â¦] to the plaintiffs and / or to the plaintiffs’ lawyer in partial satisfaction of the pecuniary judgment rendered herein against each defendant, âstates the order.
In addition to securing these funds, domain registrars connected to these pirate sites must hand over the domain names to ABS-CBN.
“In order to give effect to the permanent injunction, domain names [â¦] are hereby ordered to be immediately transferred by the Defendants, their assigns and / or assigns or assigns, and the Registrars under the control of the Plaintiff. ”
If the current registrars do not comply, ABS-CBN can seize the control register. Registries, such as the .ORG Public Interest Registry, are then responsible for putting domains on hold and removing them from TLD zone files.
The lawsuit has already successfully taken several pirate sites offline. At the time of writing, 18 domain names link to a service notice page where visitors are notified of the lawsuit. This includes all .org, .com, .to, and .net domains.
Ten .su domain names are still operational, while eight redirect to a new domain. The remaining four domains have yet to be entered but are down for a different reason, as the preview at the bottom of this article shows.
It is difficult to say how effective this legal strategy is. After all, operators of sites whose domains have been entered could simply continue with another domain name. In this case, ABS-CBN will have to start over.
That said, the lawsuit shows that something can be done against foreign pirate sites through the US court system. In theory, this could also affect The Pirate Bay, which uses an .org domain, but the infamous torrent site has already shown that it is ready to move to new domains if necessary.
A copy of the default judgment in favor of ABS-CBN is available here (pdf). Below is an overview of the 40 affected areas and their status at the time of writing.
– 123fullpinoymovieshub.com (notification)
– craigwhittakermp.co.uk (notification)
– filpinereplay.com (notification)
– futuregallery.co.uk (notification)
– garmoshka.su (redirect to a new domain)
– painworld.su (still operational)
– lambingantv.su (suspended by the host)
– pinoy-channels.su (no DNS record)
– pinoytambayanteleseryetv.su (no DNS record)
– pinoyteleserye.su (still operational)
– pinoytvlambingans.su (redirect to a new domain)
– pinoytvteleseryes.net (notification)
– creatomic.co (notification)
– fullpinoymovieshub.com (notification)
– hdfullmovies.net (notification)
– kapamilyaforever.su (redirect to a new domain)
– tambyanteleseyre.com (notification)
– kshows.club (notification)
– moviesnipipay.co (notification)
– pinoyflixteleserye.su (still operational)
– pinoyhdnishai.com (notification)
– pinoyteleseryelambingan.net (notification)
– pinoy-hd.asia (redirect to a new domain)
– pinoyhd.net (notification)
– pinoyhdflix.su (still operational)
– pinoys1tv.su (still operational)
– pinoystvtambayan.su (still operational)
– pinoytambayanonline.su (still operational)
– replaypinoytvs.su (redirect to a new domain)
– thephilipinochannel.su (cloudflare timeout)
– wikisaji.su (still operational)
– pinoyhdteleserye.com (notification)
– pinoymovies.ch (redirect to a new domain)
– pinoymovies.org (notification)
– pinoymovieshub.to (notification)
– pinoysflix.su (still operational)
– pinoysmovieshub.su (still operational)
– pinoysreplays.su (redirect to a new domain)
– pinoyteleseryehdreplay.net (notification)
– teleseryeonline.su (redirect to a new domain)