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MPAA wins $10.5 million in damages from MovieTube

MUMBAI: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has won the $10.5 million default judgement from MovieTube websites.

The movie studios have won the amount in statutory damages and control over a few dozen MovieTube domains, which were taken offline earlier this year.

The MPAA’s member studios including 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.

Studios claimed that the site has resulted in large scale infringement. They have been concerned that the owners and operators of MovieTube were creating new websites.

US District Judge Paul Crotty also issued an injunction which orders that domain name registries (including VeriSign, Neustar, Afilias Limited and Public Interest Registry) transfer domain names to the studios’ control.

In a statement, MPAA general counsel Dean Marks said, “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.”

The injunction also prohibits “agents, servants, employees, confederates and any persons in concert or participation with them” from servicing the site via links, indexing and downloading, among other actions.

The order stated, “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. Evidence indicates that Defaulting Defendants have considered reconstituting the illegal activity, suggesting they may infringe in the future.”

The judge further left open discovery via a subpoena that includes third party vendors providing services to MovieTube.

“The MovieTube websites drew 61 million visits in one month in the United States, with an array of titles like Spy and Jurassic World listed on their site, under the category of in cinema,” the judge noted.

The scope of the injunction had triggered opposition from a group of companies led by Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter, which quickly filed an amicus 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 but then redoubled the effort in mid-November, requesting a permanent injunction and $10.5 million in damages.