LeaseWeb Sued For Hosting Megaupload and Other “Pirate” Websites

Megaupload's former hosting provider LeaseWeb has been sued for copyright infringement at a federal court in California. A complaint filed by adult magazine publisher Perfect 10 accuses the hosting provider of servicing several "pirate" websites. The publisher also holds LeaseWeb liable for the infringements of Megaupload, demanding up to $188 million in damages.

leasewebEarlier this month adult magazine publisher Perfect 10 filed a lawsuit against various LeaseWeb entities. In their complaint, Perfect 10 accuses LeaseWeb of providing hosting services to several websites that host pirated copies of their images.

“Defendants host and provide Internet connectivity and other essential services to websites, including infringing websites operated in California that have infringed tens of thousands of Perfect 10 Copyrighted Works,” the complaint states.

According to Perfect 10, LeaseWeb currently hosts at least eight websites in the U.S. which store their work without permission; Imgchili.net, imgchili.com, imgtiger.com, imgserve.net, Poringa.net, ultraforos.com, ultraforos.net and Galleryworld.info.

LeaseWeb’s former client Megaupload is also prominently mentioned as one of the websites through which copyrighted images were distributed. Megaupload’s servers were located both in the U.S. and Europe.

“The LeaseWeb Defendants have hosted the website megaupload.com on their servers located both in Virginia and in Europe,” the complaint states.

“Megaupload.com allegedly infringed upon Perfect 10’s Copyrighted Works until the website was seized and shut down in or about January 2012 following a federal indictment accusing the website of criminal copyright infringement.”

Perfect 10 argues that LeaseWeb is directly responsible for the copyright infringements of its customers. The company says it sent 22 DMCA notices to LeaseWeb early 2013, identifying 12,220 infringing images, and believes the hosting provider should have taken the URLs in question offline.

Previously Megaupload, who were sued themselves by Perfect 10 in 2011, informed TF that they swiftly responded to Perfect 10′s takedown notices.

“All infringing files Perfect 10 has ever reported to Mega have been removed within hours. We keep track of all DMCA notices and could identify all notifications from Perfect 10 and we have verified that all reported links were disabled within hours,” the company told us.

Perfect 10 nevertheless concludes that LeaseWeb is aware that it hosts infringing websites because of the DMCA notices they, and others, have sent over the years.

The adult company says it suffered significant losses and demands the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement. With a total of 1256 listed infringements this means that LeaseWeb is facing up to $188 million in damages.

While Perfect 10 doesn’t have a good track record in court, the case will be an important one to determine the liability of hosting providers for their customers’ actions. For that reason alone, it is worth keeping a close eye on the case.

Update: Leaseweb told Tf that the company hasn’t been served yet, and points out that most of the sites mentioned are hosted by the Dutch LeaseWeb Netherlands BV.

“We use the Dutch Notice and Takedown procedure for LeaseWeb Netherlands BV customers which gives an equivalent protection as the DMCA, we therefor do not see why the US would be the correct forum,” the company states.

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