The MPAA is asking a New York federal court to issue a default judgment against the operators of MovieTube and several associated websites. The movie studios demand a total of $10.5 million in statutory damages, arguing that the persons behind the sites made significant profits from their copyright-infringing activities.
Last summer the MPAA sued several popular movie streaming websites which all operated under the MovieTube flag.
In their complaint the movie studios listed MovieTube.cc, TuneVideo.net, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la, KissDrama.net and several related sites.
The websites in question were typical streaming services, where users could watch videos and in some cases download source files to their computers. Since they used the same hosting facilities and design elements the studios believed that they were operated by the same people.
Several months have passed since the action was filed and the operators of the MovieTube sites have yet to appear in court. They were quick to pull the accused sites offline after the compliant was filed, but never responded to any of the claims.
Due to this inaction, the MPAA now requests a default judgment. In an affidavit submitted to a New York federal court before the weekend they point out that MovieTube made a healthy profit from its operations.
“Defendants’ aggressive promotion and search-engine optimization of the MovieTube Websites permitted them to profit off their blatantly infringing activities,” the MPAA’s attorney writes (pdf).
According to the MPAA the MovieTube sites attracted over 81 million estimated visits per month, including more than 60 million visits from the United States.
“Defendants’ advertising-based revenue model would have yielded them significant profits given their high traffic, little to no overhead, and the fact that, unlike legitimate digital content services, they paid not a single dollar to license the content on their websites.”
In a proposed default judgment (pdf) the MPAA requests a permanent injunction that would prohibit the accused from offering or linking to any copyright infringing material. In addition, the movie studios want the domain names to be transferred to them.
In addition, the MPAA requests statutory damages for willful copyright infringement in the amount of $75,000 per title, for a total of $10.5 million.
The proposed injunction no longer requires search engines, ISPs and hosting companies to stop linking or offering services to MovieTube. This request wasdropped earlier after Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo branded it as a broad censorship attempt.
Without any opposition from the defendants the MPAA is destined to win this case. However, whether they will ever see any damages is highly doubtful. For now the true operators of the MovieTube sites remain unknown.
That said, the Hollywood group has already scored a victory by shutting down the MovieTube ring when the lawsuit was filed.