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The Motion Picture Association of America has won final default judgment for $10.5 million against the MovieTube websites they claim have streamed pirated movies.
The MPAA’s member studios Paramount, Warner Bros., Universal, Columbia, Fox and Disney sued the websites in July over movies including Avengers: Age of Ultron. They brought copyright and trademark claims against “John Doe” and “XYZ Corporation” defendants and demanded an injunction against even “third parties providing services used in connection with any of the MovieTube Websites,” including website providers and social-media platforms.
The scope of the injunction triggered ire from a group of tech companies led by Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter, which quickly filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief accusing the MPAA of trying to resurrect the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
The MPAA withdrew the demand for the preliminary injunction in August, then redoubled the effort in mid-November, requesting a permanent injunction and $10.5 million in damages. In the meantime, the defendants shut down the sites but were creating a new MovieTube site, stated the MPAA in the November affidavit.
A New York federal court on Tuesday permanently enjoined the defendants from infringing the studios’ films and granted the final default judgment for $10.5 million — an amount based on 140 works at issue, statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, and the studios pursuing only half of what they say they are entitled.
But collecting could be tough. The MPAA studios have not identified with certainty who the operators of the MovieTube sites are. The court granted a default judgment in favor of the MPAA in August because none of the defendants had answered the complaint in any way, and they have continued to avoid the proceedings, according to Tuesday’s order.
“Defaulting Defendants’ failure to appear or otherwise defend or participate in this action gives the court no assurance that Defaulting Defendants’ infringing activity will cease,” states the order. “Evidence indicates that Defaulting Defendants have considered reconstituting the illegal activity, suggesting they may infringe in the future.”
Notably, the order authorizes the studios to continue discovery into “third-party vendors providing services to Defaulting Defendants in connection with the MovieTube Websites,” which means subpoenaing service providers like Google and Twitter for service records.
Added MPAA general counsel Dean Marks in a statement: “By shutting down these illegal commercial enterprises, we are protecting not only our members’ creative work and the hundreds of innovative, legal digital distribution platforms, but also the millions of people whose jobs depend on a vibrant motion picture and television industry. This court order will help ensure the sites stay down and are not transferred to others for the purposes of continuing a piracy operation on a massive scale.”
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