Over the past year, a group of independent movie companies filed a series of lawsuits against VPN providers.
The makers of films such as “I Feel Pretty,” “Once Upon a Time in Venice” and “Dallas Buyers Club” accuse these services of turning a blind eye to piracy or actively promoting it.
Filmmakers Sue VeePN
VeePN has become the latest target in this legal effort. Last month, several companies accused the Ukrainian-owned VPN service of actively promoting piracy. The company was accused of advertising on torrent sites such as YTS and billing itself as a “Porcorn Time VPN.”
Within a few weeks, the filmmakers already obtained a restraining order that effectively froze the VPN provider’s funds at PayPal and Alipay. This far-reaching measure appears to have paid off as both parties have just informed the Virginia federal court that a settlement has been reached.
In a court filing last Friday, the plaintiffs write that the restraining order can be lifted and the case dismissed. While the settlement terms will remain private, a few details have been shared in public.
Settlement With Blocking Requirements
As in previous lawsuits against VPN.ht and VPN Unlimited, VeePN agreed to block BitTorrent traffic and several pirate sites. These measures only apply to the servers that are located in the United States.
“Defendant VeePN Corp. has agreed to use commercially reasonable efforts to block BitTorrent traffic on its servers in the United States […] and to use commercially reasonable efforts to block access from servers in the United States under Defendant’s control to the certain notorious piracy websites located outside of the United States.”
The legal paperwork doesn’t mention which pirate sites will be blocked. However, in previous cases, YTS, The Pirate Bay, RARBG, 1337x, and several proxies were among the targets.
In addition to the filmmakers, the settlement also includes the Hawaiian company ’42 Ventures’ as a beneficiary. This company is owned by anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper and is the registrant of several piracy-related trademarks, including YTS, Popcorn Time, and RARBG. These trademarks were used by VeePN without permission.
The settlement and associated measures are confirmed by Andrii Rozum, who is the sole shareholder of VeePN. The Ukrainian owner of the company further adds that the VPN service is not required to log any IP addresses as part of the deal.
“The confidential settlement agreement does not obligate VeePN to implement any kind of measures in order to store log records of the IP addresses tied to servers in the United States under VeePN’s control and retain said log records,” Rozum notes.
This ‘no logging’ clarification will be important for the VPN’s users, particularly because the filmmakers specifically raised concerns over the absence of logs in their original complaint.
In another lawsuit that was resolved last year, VPN.ht did agree to log IP-address information on its US servers. However, that company also stated that it would stop using US-based servers altogether.
A copy of the rightsholders’ notice to dismiss the claims against VeePN is available here (pdf)