Unauthorized movie streaming sites have been a thorn in the side of Hollywood for many years, and yesterday the MPAA decided to take one of the most prominent players to court.
MPAA members 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros filed a lawsuit against a group of MovieTube affiliated websites, which operate from more than two dozen domain names.
In the complaint, filed at a New York District Court a few hours ago, the movie studios describe MovieTube as a business that’s designed and operated to promote copyright infringement for profit.
The MPAA lists several popular websites including MovieTube.cc, TuneVideo.net, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la and KissDrama.net. These sites share hosting facilities and a similar design and the studios believe that they are operated by the same people.
The websites in question are typical streaming sites, where users can watch videos and in some cases download the source files to their computers.
“Defendants, through the MovieTube Websites, aggregate, organize and provide embedded links to extensive libraries of Infringing Copies of Plaintiffs’ Works,” the compliant (pdf) reads.
“…users can watch Infringing Copies without leaving the MovieTube Websites. The MovieTube Websites even allow users, in some instances, to download Infringing Copies by clicking on a selection from a menu built into the video player software supplied by Defendants.”
According to the MPAA, MovieTube’s operators are well aware of the infringing nature of their site. On one of their Facebook pages they write that it’s not a problem that many films are pirated, since they are not bound by U.S. laws.
The complaint accuses MovieTube of various counts of copyright and trademark infringement. This means that the site’s operators face millions of dollars in statutory damages.
Perhaps more importantly, the MPAA is also demanding a broad preliminary injunction to make it virtually impossible for the operators to keep their sites online.
Among other things, the proposed measures would prevent domain registrars, domain registries, hosting companies, advertisers and other third-party outfits from doing business with the site.
If granted, MovieTube’s operators will have a hard time keeping the sites afloat, but it appears that the injunction may not even be needed.
At the time of writing all MovieTube domain names are unreachable. It is unclear whether the operators took this decision themselves, but for now the future of these sites looks grim.
The full list of sites mentioned in the complaint is as follows: MovieTube.tw, MovieTube.ph, TVStreaming.cc, MovieTube.sx, MovieTube.pw, MovieTubeNow.com, MovieTube.tf, MovieTube.co, MovieOnDrive.com, MovieTube.vc, TuneVideo.net, MovieTube.mn, MovieTube.cc, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la, KissDrama.net, MovieTube.so, MovieTube.click, MovieTubeHD.co, MovieTubeHD.net, MovieTubeHD.org, MovieTubeHD.tv, MovieTubeHD.us, MovieTubenow.in and TuneMovie.me.