Movie Studios Pull Injunction Demand in MovieTube Lawsuit

The MPAA's withdrawal follows intervention from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

In the face of objections raised by prominent tech companies, the Motion Picture Association of America is declaring that it has already accomplished its primary mission in its lawsuit against the anonymous operators of various MovieTube websites.

Paramount, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Universal and Disney brought copyright and trademark claims against John and Jane Does as well as XYZ Corporations on July 24. Notably, these studios also aimed for a broad preliminary injunction that would order "third-party service providers [to] cease providing services" to MovieTube, a streaming service that was posting films like Avengers: Age of Ultron ahead of its release in the United States.

Such a demand for injunctive relief triggered an angry response from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, which in an amicus brief accused the MPAA of attempting to "resurrect" the Stop Online Piracy Act by seeking an injunction on "non-parties in a lawsuit without proof that the nonparty was acting in concert with the defendant."

In a letter to the judge on Monday, MPAA members report the "defendants shut down their websites" and so they "are no longer seeking preliminary injunctive relief." The plaintiffs will still be seeking permanent relief, but add that "arguments offered by Amici Curia" — the tech companies — "are not ripe for consideration and are otherwise inapplicable ... To the extent Amici are requesting what amounts to an advisory opinion, such a request is improper and should not be entertained."

The big legal issues pertaining to the standards under which web-hosting providers, digital advertising service providers, social media services and others must take action with respect to piracy sites has thus been dodged. However, this likely won't be the last time the controversy comes up. Until then ...