Running a pirate IPTV service can be extremely profitable. One only has to look at the extraordinary wealth accumulated by Bill Omar Carrasquillo, aka Omi in a Hellcat, to see that tens of millions of dollars can be generated by a successful operation.
Hanging on to that wealth is another matter, however.
After being raided in 2019, Carrasquillo not only faces losing every penny he made, but also the prospect of a significant custodial sentence. Quite how long is currently unknown. The details of his guilty plea are currently under seal but at least in financial terms, the prospects for other IPTV operators could be even more significant.
Nitro TV Attacked on Two Fronts
Pirate IPTV service Nitro TV is currently facing two massive lawsuits. One, filed in August 2021 by DISH Network, Sling and NagraStar, could be close to a conclusion. Despite the plaintiffs only claiming a fraction of the damages available to them under the law, Nitro’s operators still face a potential $100m judgment.
The second, filed by members of the Alliance for Creativity in April 2020, seems to be heading towards an even worse outcome for defendants Alejandro “Alex” Galindo, Anna Galindo, Martha Galindo, Osvaldo Galindo, Richard Horsten, Raul Orellana (better known as YouTuber ‘Touchtone’), and business entity Firestream LLC.
Only Alejandro Galindo Attempted to Defend
In the face of massive copyright infringement allegations relating to movies and TV shows including The Office, SpiderMan: Homecoming, Toy Story 3, Star Trek Beyond, Homecoming, and Joker, Nitro shut down after being served with an injunction.
Only Alejandro Galindo appeared to defend himself against claims of direct and contributory infringement of 1,897 copyrighted works, for which the plaintiffs demand $150,000 maximum statutory damages for each work. What followed were allegations of discovery abuses and the production of zero responsive documents.
As a result, the plaintiffs (including Universal, Paramount, Columbia, Disney and Amazon) were advised by the court that it would be issuing sanctions but according to a recently filed joint case management statement, that is yet to happen. Nevertheless, the quagmire only appears to be getting deeper.
“Defendant has asserted his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. Plaintiff has failed to prosecute this matter in a timely manner, and the case continues to drag on with no new progress.
“The case should be dismissed for a failure to timely prosecute,” the studios now inform the court, noting that the clerk of the court has already entered default against all defendants.
The movie and TV show companies say that they are waiting for the court to issue findings on their motion for sanctions before moving for default judgment against all of the defendants. Meanwhile, Alejandro Galindo – the only person to defend – now finds himself without an attorney.
Nitro Boss Hired An Attorney, Didn’t Pay Him
From the beginning, Galindo was represented in the lawsuit by attorney Steven Vondran, who has a specialty in IP-related matters, as evidenced by his informative YouTube channel. Vondran is also active in other cases involving alleged pirates so was a good option if Galindo and Nitro were to at least try to manage their losses. That option now appears to be well and truly off the table.
“I have been counsel of record for Defendant Alejandro Galindo since the inception of this case. A written retainer agreement was signed between the parties calling for certain fees to be paid in a timely manner,” Vondran now informs the court.
“At this time, fees have not been paid as agreed, moreover, despite several requests, no communication or other responses have been received from Defendant and he has simply gone quiet.”
As a result, Vondran now needs permission from the court to withdraw from the lawsuit.
The attorney says that good cause exists to show that there has been a “complete breakdown” of the attorney-client relationship. Galindo is no longer communicating and has failed to provide instructions to his attorney that are necessary to represent him. Furthermore, he has “plenty” of time to obtain new counsel – if one is prepared to take him on, of course.
Does Galindo Have The Means to Pay?
The question of what funds are left following the Nitro shutdown remains a question but according to the movie and TV studios, Nitro and partners certainly received a lot of money.
Third-party subpoenas allowed them to discover that over $7 million in sales of Nitro TV subscriptions and reseller credits were made through accounts held in Martha Galindo’s name. Defendant Firestream LLC, reportedly operated by Veronica Orellana, the wife of Raul Orellana (Touchtone), received more than half a million dollars to market Nitro online.
However, even if every penny was squirreled away somewhere, that is unlikely to make even a small dent when the lawsuit inevitably goes to a default judgment. Whether the plaintiffs will ultimately seek maximum damages and have that amount approved by the court in respect of all 1,897 works remains to be seen but if so, there’s the potential for a judgment in excess of $250 million.
That’s on top of the $100 million demanded in the DISH Network lawsuit.