In 2021, the RIAA secured a major victory in its piracy lawsuit against YouTube-rippers FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com, and their Russian operator Tofig Kurbanov.
A Virginia federal court issued a default judgment in favor of the RIAA, which represented several prominent music companies.
Following this win, the RIAA demanded $83 million in damages for the widespread copyright infringement that allegedly took place through the sites. The request was met with heavy opposition from Mr. Kurbanov, but last year it was granted nonetheless.
The RIAA, which described the legal battle as a landmark case, was happy with the outcome. As it stands, it will act as a deterrent against similar stream-rippers and other potentially infringing sites. However, the case is not over just yet.
$83 Million Appeal
While Mr. Kurbanov previously walked away from the U.S. court battle, he may choose to keep on fighting. In a new filing submitted yesterday, a challenge against the piracy liability ruling and damages award was docketed at the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The appeal doesn’t come as a complete surprise. More than a year ago, Kurbanov’s legal team already signaled their intention to challenge the verdict. A notice of appeal was filed in March 2022, but it took more than a year before the case was formally docketed.
TorrentFreak reached out to the defense’s team for a comment on their plans, but they didn’t immediately reply. Since quite a bit of time has passed, and considering Kurbanov’s previous change of heart regarding U.S. courts, anything could happen.
Questions Remain, Traffic Slides
Last year, defense lawyer Val Gurvits informed us that his client intended to challenge the fact that the sites are being held liable for millions of dollars in damages, without having to present concrete evidence of copyright infringements that allegedly took place in the United States.
“If the record companies can really get multi-million dollar judgments without having to prove a single instance of infringement within the United States, then no one who operates a website is safe,” Gurvits said at the time.
Whether this is still the plan remains unclear. If the operator of the YouTube rippers does decide to proceed with the appeal, an opening brief could be expected later this year, with the RIAA to respond after that.
Meanwhile, the contested YouTube rippers are still online. Their traffic has been decimated, however, in part because the sites voluntarily blocked all traffic from the United States.
When the RIAA filed its lawsuit five years ago, FLVTO.biz had an estimated 94 million visits per month and 2conv.com pulled in around 23 million monthly visits. Today, these visitor numbers have dropped to 3 million and 2 million visits, respectively.