TV & Film Piracy

Piracy Crackdown Nets Disney and Major Studios $30M

A coalition of studios and production houses, in their long battle to protect copyrights and fight piracy, have won a case against the defendant. Dwayne Johnson, who operates two illegal streaming sites, has been ordered to pay the plaintiffs $30 million. As per court filings, the parties agreed to resolve the lawsuit, which also states that Johnson must not operate any online service that lets users engage in movie piracy.

In December 2021, Netflix, Disney and Universal sued Johnson for copyright infringement. Warner Bros., Apple, Paramount and others joined in the copyright suit.

TV and Movie Piracy via Thousands of Channels and Video-on-Demand

The legal complaint alleges a “massive” amount of piracy on two services, Quality Restreams and AllAccessTV (AATV). The sites sold subscriptions to copyrighted television shows and movies, including Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and the popular TV series The Office. Users could order through video-on-demand and thousands of channels. Through the live channels, users could access NBC, HBO, Cinemax and other networks, downloading the platforms to their devices.

Illegal Streaming Crackdowns

In recent months, production companies and studios have been cracking down on illegal streaming, mounting lawsuits against various platforms for copyright infringement. Last September, lawsuits were settled between Voltage Pictures and other copyright holders and internet service providers (ISPs). The complaints stated that the ISPs had not punished users who repeatedly pirated copyrighted movies. Intellectual property owners increasingly use copyright law to assert ownership rights, in an effort to fight illegal streaming.

Willful Copyright Infringement

Subscriptions to the illegal services, which cost $25 a month, included VOD (video-on-demand) access for $15 more. Content was categorized into which streaming services the TV shows and films aired. The lawsuit alleged that Johnson knew what he was doing was illegal, saying that he made efforts to conceal his activities, such as pretending to sell VPN software but actually selling these subscriptions. Willful copyright infringement entitles copyright owners to an amount up to $150,000 in statutory damages for each infringed work.

AATV was said to have generated $3 million in yearly revenue.

The Hollywood Reporter – 27 March 2023 – Winston Cho

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