YTS is one of the most popular torrent sites, serving millions of users per day.
All this attention got the site in legal trouble. Various movie companies including the makers of ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ ‘Hunter Killer’ and ‘Mechanic Resurrection,’ took YTS ‘operator’ Senthil Vijay Segaran and the company Techmodo to court.
While lawsuits tend to end badly for pirate sites, these lawsuits turned out differently. All parties agreed to settle the lawsuits, three in total, in change for over a million dollars in piracy damages. The site, however, was allowed to continue and is still online today.
Initially, this was received as great news by the site’s users. However, for some, it turned out to be a disaster. As part of an undisclosed agreement, YTS also shared information from its user database. This was a limited one-time arrangement, we learned from an insider, but one with broad consequences.
After settling the case with YTS, the same movie companies moved on to several users. These film companies had sued BitTorrent users in the past but now they have extra ammunition, including emails, IP-addresses and download logs obtained directly from YTS.
This information was put to use right away. Over the past months, we have reported on several lawsuits where YTS users were targeted, and movie companies also approached alleged pirates out of court by contacting them directly via email. The latter also happened to Colorado residents W. Nelson and R. Flattery.
Settle Or Else
Both were approached with a settlement demand out of court, which they chose to ignore. Perhaps they had hoped the filmmakers would move on to other targets instead, but that was not the case. A few months ago, they were taken to court.
Flattery and Nelson were sued in federal court, where the filmmakers demanded damages. In theory, that could reach $150,000 per copyright infringement, which is many times the offer they first received over email.
In many federal lawsuits against torrent users, the evidence isn’t exactly rock solid. However, with emails and IP-addresses from the YTS database, the movie companies had a much stronger case here. And faced with potentially live-changing damages claims, both defendants have agreed to settle.
Defendants Settle After All
Earlier this week the movie companies asked the court to dismiss the claims against both defendants. Most of the time the settlement agreements remain private but, in this case, they were entered into the court’s records.
Flattery agreed to pay $2,320 in damages to Morgan Creek Productions and admitted to sharing copies of the movie “All Eyez On Me.” He was also accused of sharing several other movies, such as “Lost Child” and “Hunter Killer,” but maintains that this is incorrect.
The settlement amount can be paid off in six months and the movie company offers to waive the final $120 if the defendant pays on time.
Nelson settled with several movie companies, including the makers of “Rambo: Last Blood” and “Hellboy” but no movie titles are mentioned in the agreement. He must pay $10,500.00 in minimum monthly installments of $50.
According to the attorney of the movie companies, both defendants were offered such “generous” deals because COVID already impacted the defendants substantially, suggesting that they lost work.
“These generous arrangements were made in view of the impact the novel coronavirus has had on the employment situation of Defendants and further hardships currently endured by Defendant Nelson,” the attorney writes.
Needless to say, this is a grim ending for the defendants. And the same is true for fellow Coloradoan S. Moody, who settled his case in early November. While they are probably happy to get this burden off their back, it must be strange for them to see YTS continue business as usual.
A copy of the letter informing the court about the settlement agreements is available here (pdf)