Movie Studios Renew Injunction Demand in MovieTube Lawsuit

One step back, then two steps forward: The MPAA seeks $10.5 million, domain disabling and an investigation of copyright pirating.

The Motion Picture Association of America is again pushing a judge to issue an injunction in its lawsuit against the anonymous operators of various MovieTube websites. In a court filing on Friday, film studios assert entitlement to such actions as registrars disabling and transferring domains and ordering that advertising service providers cease services to the piracy sites.

Film studios sued in July, targeting those posting copies of works like Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron ahead of its release in the United States. A bid for a broad preliminary injunction got the attention of big tech companies including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, who argued in an amicus brief that the MPAA was trying to resurrect the Stop Online Piracy Act and dodging requirements that nonparty service providers be shown in active participation with defendants before being bound by an injunction themselves.

As attention on the lawsuit escalated, the MPAA backed off a bit in August by withdrawing the demand for preliminary injunctive relief and telling the judge that arguments by the tech companies were not ripe for consideration.

Now, three months later, the MPAA is on the march again, albeit with some new context.

The "John Doe" defendants have failed to respond in court to the complaint, and the clerk has entered a default. As a result, the plaintiffs are aiming to get $10.5 million in statutory damages as well as a permanent injunction.

The plaintiffs say in an affidavit in support of the measure (read here) that although the defendants have ceased operating the original MovieTube websites, they have created a new MovieTube website and have been advertising its operation on Twitter. This website is said to be streaming works copyrighted by the studios.

The same defendants are also reported as once running various sites such as YouTubeOnFire.com, YouTubeMainPage.com and YouTubeSoSexy.com ordered to be transferred to Google by the administrative panel in an ICANN Policy arbitration proceeding. The affidavit could be making mention of this in an attempt to head off resistance from Google .

The MPAA members say injunctive relief "is necessary to prevent Defendants from instantly and at any time reversing their self-imposed disabling of the MovieTube Websites, as they have threatened to do through social media accounts and website statements."

Furthermore, to collect on a $10.5 million judgment — an amount premised on 140 works at issue, statutory damages running up to $150,000 per infringement, and plaintiffs saying they are only seeking half of what they are entitled to — the MPAA wants court permission for ongoing discovery, which would mean compelling service providers like Google and Twitter to hand over records.

According to the affidavit, "Nonparties who have conducted business with Defendants, including but not limited to domain privacy services, advertising services or social media accounts, are likely to have identifying information concerning the name and location of Defendants or their business or financial information, all of which could aid in satisfying a judgment."

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