ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines, has delivered another strike to pirate sites in the United States.
Last week a federal court in Florida signed a default judgment against 43 websites that offered copyright-infringing streams of ABS-CBN owned movies, including Star Cinema titles.
The order was signed exactly one day after the complaint was filed, in what appears to be a streamlined process.
The media company accused the websites of trademark and copyright infringement by making free streams of its content available without permission. It then asked the court for assistance to shut these sites down as soon as possible.
“Defendants’ websites operating under the Subject Domain Names are classic examples of pirate operations, having no regard whatsoever for the rights of ABS-CBN and willfully infringing ABS-CBN’s intellectual property.
“As a result, ABS-CBN requires this Court’s intervention if any meaningful stop is to be put to Defendants’ piracy,” ABS-CBN wrote.
Instead of a lengthy legal process that can take years to complete, ABS-CBN went for an “ex-parte” request for domain seizures, which means that the websites in question are not notified or involved in the process before the order is issued.
After reviewing the proposed injunction, US District Judge Beth Bloom signed off on it. This means that all the associated registrars must hand over the domain names in question.
“The domain name registrars for the Subject Domain Names shall immediately assist in changing the registrar of record for the Subject Domain Names, to a holding account with a registrar of Plaintiffs’ choosing..,” the order (pdf) reads.
In the days that followed, several streaming-site domains were indeed taken over. Movieonline.io, 1movies.tv, 123movieshd.us, 4k-movie.us, icefilms.ws and others are now linking to a notice page with information about the lawsuit instead.
Gomovies.es, which is also included, has not been transferred yet, but the operator appears to be aware of the lawsuit as the site now redirects to Gomovies.vg. Other domains, such as Onlinefullmovie.me, Putlockerm.live and Newasiantv.io remain online as well.
While the targeted sites together are good for thousands of daily visitors, they’re certainly not the biggest fish.
That said, the most significant thing about the case is not that these domain names have been taken offline. What stands out is the ability of an ex-parte request from a copyright holder to easily take out dozens of sites in one swoop.
Given ABS-CBN’s legal track record, this is likely not the last effort of this kind. The question now is if others will follow suit.
The full list of targeted domain is as follows.