Earlier this year a coalition of record labels including Capitol Records, Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records and Universal Music Group filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull.
With millions of visitors per month the MP3 download site had been one of the prime sources of pirated music for a long time.
Several months have passed since the RIAA members submitted their complaint and since the owners of MP3Skull failed to respond, the labels are now asking for a default judgement.
In their motion filed last Friday at a Florida District Court, the record labels describe MP3Skull as a notorious pirate site that promotes copyright infringement on a commercial scale.
“Defendants designed, promote, support and maintain the MP3Skull website for the well-known, express and overarching purpose of reproducing, distributing, performing and otherwise exploiting unlimited copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings without any authorization or license.
“By providing to the public the fruits of Plaintiffs’ investment of money, labor and expertise, MP3Skull has become one of the most notorious pirate websites in the world,” the labels add (pdf).
Besides offering a comprehensive database of links to music tracks, the labels also accuse the site’s operators of actively promoting piracy through social media. Among other things, MP3Skull helped users to find pirated tracks after copyright holders removed links from the site.
Based on the blatant piracy carried out by operators and users, the labels argue that MP3Skull is liable for willful copyright infringement.
Listing 148 music tracks as evidence, the companies ask for the maximum $150,000 in statutory damages for each, bringing the total to more than $22 million.
“Under these egregious circumstances, Plaintiffs should be awarded statutory damages in the full amount of $150,000 for each of the 148 works identified in the Complaint, for a total of $22,200,000,” the motion reads.
In addition the RIAA labels request a permanent injunction to make it harder for MP3Skull from continuing to operate the site. The proposed injunction (pdf) prevents domain name registrars and registries form providing services to MP3Skull and orders the transfer of existing domains to the copyright holders.
While a default judgment would be a big hit to the site, most damage has already been done. Last year MP3Skull was listed among the 500 most-visited websites on the Internet according to Alexa, but after Google downranked the site it quickly lost its traffic.
The site subsequently hopped from domain to domain and is currently operating from the .ninja TLD with only a fraction of the number of users it had before.
Given that MP3Skull failed to appear before the court it’s likely that the District Court will approve the proposed default judgment. Whether the record labels will ever see a penny of the claimed millions is doubtful though, as the true owners of the MP3Skull site remain unknown.