November 30, 2015
The owners and operators of the MovieTube websites are in big trouble — whoever they are. The Motion Picture Association of America won a final default judgment, to the tune of $10.5 million, against the sites. But collecting is going to be a problem, since the MPAA has not been able to identify any of the defendants, and no companies have answered the complaint or engaged in any of the proceedings. Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter, however, filed an amicus brief that could trigger subpoenas in the future.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the story began in July when MPAA member studios Paramount, Warner Bros., Universal, Columbia, Fox and Disney sued the websites — named as “John Doe” and “XYZ Corporation” — over copyright and trademark infringement on 140 works, including movies such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
The MPAA also demanded an injunction against “third parties providing services used in connection with any of the MovieTube websites,” which translates to website providers and social media platforms.
In response, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies accused the MPAA of “trying to resurrect the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)” with an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief. The MPAA paused — withdrawing its demand for the preliminary injunction in August — then came roaring back in mid-November with a request for a permanent injunction and $10.5 in damages.
Although the shadowy defendants behind the MovieTube sites shut them down, the MPAA accused them of working on a new one. Now, a New York Federal court has “permanently enjoined the defendants from infringing the studios’ films and granted the final default judgment for $10.5 million,” based on statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.
The MPAA won by default since the defendants did not participate in the court action, giving rise to the fear that “they may infringe in the future.” The studios now have the legal go-ahead to continue discovery into those third-party vendors — such as Google and Twitter — enabling MovieTube websites.