Until last summer, uploads from MKVCage frequently appeared on popular torrent sites. In addition, the ‘group’ also operated its own website.
This changed when the makers of the film ‘Hellboy’ took the alleged mastermind behind MKVCage to court last year.
In a lawsuit filed at a Hawaii federal court, HB Productions identified a Pakistani man named Muhammad Faizan as the operator. Soon after, the website went offline and the uploads stopped.
Hellboy Wanted $270,000 in Piracy Damages
Hellboy’s makers weren’t completely satisfied, however. When Faizan failed to show up in court, the movie company asked the court clerk to issue a default judgment, totaling more than $270,000 in infringement damages.
This didn’t go well. Hellboy’s attorney argued that the damages amount represented the price of a Blu-ray copy of the film, multiplied by the 16,942 US people who shared MKVCage’s Hellboy torrents. However, the court wasn’t convinced.
For a clerk to issue a default judgment the damages “sum” has to be “certain.” That can apply to cases where a tenant fails to pay rent, for example. But the court said that this “certainty” doesn’t apply to piracy damages. Instead, Hellboy’s makers were ordered to file a regular default judgment.
That’s exactly what the movie company did this week. The motion for a default judgment details MKVCage’s infringing activities and argues that the operator wilfully targeted the US. This is required for the court to have jurisdiction over the defendant.
Hellboy Must Settle for Less
Instead of the $270,000 in ‘actual’ piracy damages, Hellboy’s attorney now requests $150,000 in statutory damages. That is the maximum it can legally ask for under US law, without proving actual damages.
According to the movie makers, Faizan willingly committed and facilitated copyright infringement. He did not just run the site but uploaded and seeded copies of the movie Hellboy too, they say.
“Not only did Defendant himself place the torrent files on his MKVCAGE websites and the ibit.uno website after ripping copies from legitimate sources, he also seeded copies of the Work,” Hellboy writes.
MKVCage Initially Tried to Evade Trouble
After finding out that the movie company was chasing him down, Faizan allegedly tried to evade trouble by switching domains, using the privacy protection service Njalla as an intermediary.
“When he received notice of infringement from Cloudflare and Namecheap, he moved his website to mkvcage.com and continued to distribute torrent files for copying the Work.
“When he received notification from Plaintiff’s counsel, he created a new website using the privacy services of 1337 Services, LLC to conceal his identity,” Hellboy’s attorney adds.
In addition to the $150,000 in piracy damages, Hellboy also requests an injunction preventing Faizan from infringing its movie in the future, as well as over $12,000 in attorneys’ fees.
While MKVCage is not putting up a defense, the Court has yet to agree that a default judgment is warranted and whether the requested damages and attorneys’ fees are appropriate.
A copy of Hellboy’s request for a default judgment of $150,000 in statutory piracy damages is available here (pdf).