YouTube Rippers Appeal $83M Piracy Verdict *TorrentFreak

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The operator of YouTube rippers FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com announced it would appeal the piracy verdict, where the RIAA was awarded $83 million in damages. According to his lawyers, the legal process was derailed because the music companies did not have to prove a single case of copyright infringement.

Last October, the RIAA won a major victory in its piracy lawsuit against YouTube-rippers FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com and their Russian operator Tofig Kurbanov.

A federal court in Virginia entered a default judgment in favor of the RIAA, which represented several major music companies.

Following this victory, the RIAA demanded $83 million in damages for the widespread copyright infringement that allegedly took place on the sites. This request was met with strong opposition from Mr Kurbanov, but a few weeks ago it was nevertheless granted.

The RIAA, which described the legal battle as a landmark affair, was pleased with the outcome. As it stands, it will act as a deterrent against similar stream-rippers and other potentially infringing sites. However, it’s not over yet.

$83 million appeal

While Mr Kurbanov previously walked away from the US court battle, he now intends to keep fighting. In a new filing submitted a few days ago, its legal team informs the court that it will appeal the piracy liability decision and damages award to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

call kurbanov

Speaking to TorrentFreak, defense attorney Val Gurvits says his client will be challenging the sites being held liable for millions of dollars in damages. This is false, he argues, because the rights holders have presented no concrete evidence of copyright infringements having taken place in the United States.

“At this point, Mr. Kurbanov is doing it less for himself and more to shed light on a judicial process that has gone off the rails,” Gurvits told TorrentFreak.

This apparent lack of evidence was also raised in a response to the magistrate’s damages recommendation issued last fall. However, District Court Judge Claude Hilton later found those recommendations to be within the law.

Dangerous precedent?

Mr. Kurbanov’s legal team considers this finding a manifest error. If so, they fear that any website owner could be held liable for millions of dollars in damages, without the need for hard evidence.

It would be a great precedent for the RIAA and its members, but not so much for the general public.

“If record companies can really get multi-million dollar judgments without having to prove a single case of infringement in the United States, then no one running a website is safe,” says Gurvits.

“And it’s the American consumer who will suffer the most because websites just decide it’s easier to block visitors from the United States.” It doesn’t benefit anyone…except the record labels, of course.

The opening brief has not yet been filed with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and we expect to report on it in due course. The same goes for the RIAA’s response.

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