‘Secret’ MPAA Lawsuit Targeted Domains of Pubfilm’s “Piracy Ring”

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The MPAA is responsible for taking down several domain names of the popular streaming site Pubfilm, unsealed court records reveal. The anti-piracy group sued operators of the "piracy ring" in a New York federal court and obtained an injunction ordering GoDaddy, VeriSign, and Enom to disable six Pubfilm associated domains.

A week ago we reported about the mysterious domain name issues pirate streaming site Pubfilm was facing.

The popular site lost control over several of its domains, including pubfilm.com, pubfilm.net, pubfilmhd.com, top100film.com, pidtv.com and pubfilm.cc.

Similar to other sites in this position, Pubfilm swiftly moved its operation to a new home; pubfilm.ac. Hoping to keep their visitors on board, the operators also took the unusual step of advertising this change through Google Adsense.

Now that a week has passed, more info has become available on Pubfilm’s domain troubles. As it turns out, the site is subject to a lawsuit filed by the MPAA, on behalf of several major Hollywood studios including Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and Disney.

The lawsuit was filed in a New York federal court early last month and accuses Pubfilm and several associated sites of operating a large-scale piracy operation causing significant harm to the movie industry.

The sites allegedly have eight million monthly visitors, of which roughly 40 percent are linked to US IP-addresses, THR reports. The operators are believed to be from Vietnam, and one of the defendants is named as Phat Bui.

“Defendants’ entire business amounts to nothing more than a blatant, large-scale copyright infringement operation, undertaken to maximize ill-gotten profits while evading the enforcement efforts of copyright owners,” the complaint reads.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to put an end to Defendants’ ongoing, massive violation of Plaintiffs’ rights and to recover damages therefrom.” the movie studios add.

The lawsuit was initially kept out of public view. However, after our report last week, the MPAA agreed that it could be unsealed. The court signed the unseal order last Friday, but at the time of writing the original complaint is still unavailable in the court docket.

MPAA agrees to unseal

What’s most significant about the lawsuit, aside from the initial secrecy, is the fact that the court swiftly granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against several domain registrars and registries.

The restraining order from early February required GoDaddy, VeriSign, and Enom to make six domain names unavailable without warning or informing their customers in advance.

While this is an isolated case for now, the MPAA could use this tactic to target other alleged pirate sites in future.

It is no secret that domain names are prime target for the Hollywood studios. Last month they targeted several domains in Europe through the domain name registrar EuroDNS, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if similar actions follow in the near future.

Update: The complaint is available to the public now (pdf).


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