Once thought to be operating well under the radar, recent months have seen fresh efforts to silence sites that provide fan-created translations of movies and TV shows for their home countries. The latest targets for shutdown – Israel and France.
With the assistance of ALIS (Israel’s answer to the MPAA), in late 2007 raids were conducted on the homes of the admins of three sites known as ‘xvoom’, ‘MYakuza’ and ‘Donkey‘ which carried Hebrew subtitles for US movies.
ALIS reached private agreements with the admins of ‘xvoom’ and ‘MYakuza’, under which the sites would be closed and compensation paid.
“The feeling is very difficult. A website that I have put 2.5 years of work into was closed”, said the owner of ‘mYakuza’, who didn’t hire a legal team. “Links to illegal films were never available on the website but I preferred not to destroy my life and decided to shut it down completely. They have more lawyers and money. We came out lucky.”
Effi Teva, the admin of ‘Donkey’ wasn’t included in the settlement and legal procedures against him have begun.
Last Wednesday, the district court in Haifa, Israel, ordered the permanent closure of the movie and TV subtitling sites donkey.co.il and sratim.co.il.
The court decided that the sites infringed copyrights by offering links to unauthorized subtitles and Judge Gideon Ginat ruled that the defendant, Effi Teva, should pay compensation of 160,000 shekels to ALIS and various filmmakers, which includes the lawyers’ fee of 60,000 shekels.
Effi Teva didn’t give any testimony. The previous hearing in the case took place in 2007, but Teva didn’t show up then either, instead asking the plaintiff’s lawyer to request an extension.
Judge Ginat says that Teva requested postponements numerous times. “I want to make it clear”, said the judge, “that I said in the last meeting to those present that I won’t be able to keep postponing the dates of the hearing.”
Judge Ginat criticized the behavior of the defendant and his lawyer and said, “It goes without saying that the defendant and his proxy cannot dictate the hearing date in a last minute phone call.”
Lawyer Sarah Prazanti, who represents movie anti-piracy outfit ALIS said that the judge refused to accept the request to postponed the hearing, and gave the verdict. Effi Teva did not comment on the matter.
In France this week, Warner has been taking action of its own against subtitling sites. It says that such sites “make intellectual property available to the public without authorization,” such as foreign translations of Warner productions. “This,” says Warner in threats to various subtitling sites, “will affect your liability and exposes you to possible civil lawsuits.”
One site under threat is ‘Frigorifix’, which appears to be taking the threat seriously. “Never, until now have we had threats from rights holders that are as real and immediate as the ones we received yesterday.”
“Our names and addresses are listed with our registrar and web host,” said a representative of the site, “and we can not afford to undergo a judicial process.”
It is believed that members of the site will continue to translate, but no subtitles will be available from the site itself.
Earlier this month we reported on the problems faced by Brazilian sub-site Legendas.tv after anti-piracy action, but it quickly bounced back.
Thanks go to Q-subs translator ‘Godfather’