MPAA Silently Drops Case Against BitTorrent Site

In 2005, DVDr-core was the first BitTorrent site that was targeted by the MPAA outside the US. A classic story: Man runs site, man gets sued over site, nothing more is ever heard. Whilst in most cases, this means that the defendant bowed to pressure, paid an out of court settlement, and promised not to do it again, that is not the case here.

For those that don’t remember, lets recap. It was a little over three years ago that Hollywood took their first blast against a BitTorrent site in Europe with a lawsuit against DVDr-core. The notification (see end), served at the home address of the domain owner one Saturday morning in March 2005, led to more than a few anxious nights for fellow torrent site admins and users, wondering who would be next to get a knock at the door.

The site, which closed in December 04, after Hanff and the site’s administrators heard about raids in Holland, was not administered by Hanff, but by some online friends of his. Shortly after this dawn raid by a process server, Hanff -who had just started a new job- appeared on an episode of the BBC show “NewsNight”. The day after it aired, he was fired, for having views on copyright that the company felt were incompatible with its own, and for not disclosing the case.

That was the situation at the end of 2005 anyway. And now, more than two years have passed and he has heard nothing new. Despite the claims in the letters he has received, Hanff doesn’t think the case went any further, and was quietly dropped. “The last thing I had was a letter from the MPAA lawyers with a copy of a motion for a default [judgment]“, he told TorrentFreak. “That was November 2005 , had that motion been granted I should have heard from the courts.” The hearing in question would have been around the middle of December 2005. “I haven’t even received anything from the court about that hearing , which I should have done , so I am sceptical as to whether or not it actually went ahead”

Perhaps the MPAA felt they didn’t need to proceed any more, after all, thanks to the case, Mr Hanff lost his job, and they didn’t have to run the risk of an adverse judgment in court. As has been discussed in the past, the anti-filesharing litigation campaigns seems to be less about compensating the artists, and more about harassment, and manufacturing cases to boost lobbying efforts. It would appear that this is just more of the same , mudslinging in lieu of any actual case. The document received by Mr. Hanff is certainly full of accusations, threats, and exaggerations , something that recently cost a French Lawyer her ability to practice law.

It does bring into some doubt the ability or the desire for the MPAA to litigate outside the cozy confines of the US. It also seems to indicate the way the oink case will go, as it just had it’s bail date extended again, although it is a criminal case, whilst dvdr-core is a civil case. Nevertheless, the extension of the case with no action except the initial accusation does draw the similarities closer.

In the meantime, Mr Hanff has been spending his energies tacking Phorm, the illegal and widespread invasion of browsing privacy to target adverts via deep packet inspection in association with UK ISPs. His dissertation on the subject can be read here.

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