There are lots of pieces of information that can help anti-piracy groups form a strategy to deal with an infringing site or service.
Things like IP addresses, domain details, hosting companies and payment processor accounts all play important roles but of them all, real-life names and physical addresses are considered investigation gold.
With these details in hand, a targeted and strongly-worded cease-and-desist notice may be all it takes to remove a service from the internet. Of course, these pieces of information aren’t usually left lying around.
With some luck, they may be available from companies providing services to pirate sites. Domain companies, Cloudflare and similar entities can be forced to supply this information in response to a DMCA subpoena filed by copyright holders. As a result, the studios of the Motion Picture Association and anti-piracy partners ACE regularly go to court in the US to obtain intelligence for use in investigations and legal action.
New DMCA Subpoena – Pirate IPTV
Filed just before Christmas by the MPA and ACE, the first application seeks cooperation from Cloudflare to hand over all information held by the company relating to five domains linked to pirate IPTV operations.
“[Y]ou are required to disclose to the Motion Picture Association, Inc. (on behalf of the ACE Members) information sufficient to identify the infringers. This would include the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history,” the subpoena reads.
The targeted domains include hypersonic-tv.com which at the time of writing appears to be offline. Whether this is related to an MPA/ACE investigation is currently unknown. What is clear from documentation filed with the court is that the movie companies have accessed Hypersonic’s VOD library and confirmed that two movies (2 Fast 2 Furious and Joker) are being offered illegally.
Another target, apollogroup.tv is the domain for provider Apollo Group TV, a rather expensive service that starts at $24.99 per month and claims to offer a “VOD library over 5000 commercial-free movies and tv shows on demand.” Once again, MPA/ACE have access to the service and have confirmed that the movies Soul and Fast & Furious 9 are being offered illegally.
Beastiptv.us is the domain for Beast TV, which claims to offer over 9000 channels and a library of 3000 channels on its VOD service. Again, the studios have access to the platform and have informed the court that the Netflix movie Extraction is being made available without permission.
Topdhosting.com is the domain used by IPTV provider Topdog TV and fitiptv.com is operated by FitIPTV. The latter not only sells subscriptions to end-users but also offers reseller accounts in addition to a restream service that can be used to supply streams to an app, for example.
Time will tell whether Cloudflare does indeed have any useful information to hand over but the subpoena is further evidence that VOD services are a magnet for legal action and certainly help the studios prosecute cases more effectively, particularly in the United States.
Supporting document can be found here (1,2,3, pdf)
New DMCA Subpoena – Illegal Streaming Sites
The final DMCA subpoena filed against Cloudflare in the week before Christmas targets more than two dozen domains related to more traditional web-based pirate streaming portals.
Accusing the platforms of breaching copyright law by facilitating access to movies including Godzilla vs Kong, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Tenet, Joker, and The Flash, MPA/ACE again seek the CDN company’s assistance to unmask those behind the domains.
Whether any of the sites will be subjected to direct legal action is currently unknown but there is a pattern forming. In certain regions where website blocking injunctions are available, the applicants (the studios) have to show they have made good faith efforts to contact site operators in advance.
Obtaining contact information from Cloudflare could enable them to do that and what we have seen is a trend of site domain names appearing in DMCA subpoenas before they are blocked by ISPs in places such as the UK Australia.
Of course, the information can be used for other purposes too, including full-blown lawsuits, such as the one recently filed against PrimeWire.
The full list of domains is as follows: tvhai.org, motchill.net, watchsomuch.org, flixtor.to, noonoo1.tv, afdah.video, ilgeniodellostreaming.re, ilgeniodellostreaming.si, ilgeniodellostreaming.cat, ilgeniodellostreaming.moe, ilgeniodellostreaming.mba, igds.se, seriesonlineweb.com, pobreflix.online, superflix.plus, torrentdosfilmeshd2.net, seriesflix2.com, cooz.co, assistironline.net, comoeubaixo.com, megaseriesonline.org, amazflixhd.com, temseries.online, filmesonlinehd1.org, pianku.li