Russian-Language Video Service eTVnet Sued for Allegedly Streaming Stolen Content

The suit claims the service is harming competitors, customers and copyright owners.

Copyright cases against websites illegally pirating or streaming material are ubiquitous, but a new lawsuit against a Russian-language digital content site offers a different spin on the litigation: It has been filed by a competitor that says its legitimate service is being harmed by eTVnet's unauthorized streaming operation.

Alamite Ventures, a Scotland-based streaming company that operates, is suing eTVnet's parent Matvil Corporation for civil conspiracy, unfair business practices and violation of the Lanham Act. The suit claims eTVnet is stealing copyrighted content and distributing it through multiple channels including the internet and Roku devices under the guise of a fully legal service.

"On information and belief, the eTVnet Conspirators know that their actions are illegal and have instituted a sophisticated scheme to avoid getting caught," writes attorney Valentin Gurvits in the complaint. "For example, the eTVnet Conspirators do not allow new users to access the stolen content library until they can verify that the new users are not 'spies' or affiliated with content producers or law enforcement."

Alamite says eTVnet has obtained at least two illegal and deceptive advantages over competitors, claiming the site offers some content that isn't available to other services because the copyright owners don't license it and can offer artificially lower prices because it's not actually paying any license fees. 

In addition to injuring Alamite's business, the complaint, filed in Massachusetts federal court, also claims eTVnet is injuring its own customers and copyright owners like HBO, Netflix and Disney.

"Given the staggering amount of copyright infringement committed by the eTVnet Conspirators, the damage to United States-based copyright owners easily eclipses $100,000,000," writes Gurvits. "Specifically, and without limitation, the eTVnet Conspirators have made available through the eTVnet Service, including Roku and the Internet, and accessible in the United States, television shows and movies like the Alien Covenant, Big Sick, Deadpool, War for the Planet of the Apes, House of Cards, Sausage Party, Transformers 3, Ozark, Westworld, Wonder Woman, and The OA, which, upon information and belief, they are not licensed to distribute in the United States (and many of which are exclusively distributed on the Netflix platform)."

Alamite is seeking damages and an injunction barring eTVnet from distributing content without rights and from making its service available in the U.S. (Read the full complaint below.)

Matvil counsel David G. Liston sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the claims late Wednesday, and notes that the company has not yet been served with the complaint. "Matvil will vigorously defend itself in the lawsuit, which it considers baseless and ripe for dismissal," he says. "Matvil supports the rights of content holders and their legitimate efforts to prevent pirates from distributing the content holders’ programming without authorization." 

Dec 21, 9:35 a.m. Updated with a statement from Matvil.

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