YouTube Rippers Run Out of Money, Give Up On $83m RIAA Legal Battle

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The Russian operator of YouTube rippers and voluntarily dismissed his appeal against the RIAA this week. According to his attorney, the operator ran out of money so is unable to fund a legal battle in a foreign court. As a result, the $83 million DMCA circumvention verdict stands.

sad tubeTwo years ago, the RIAA secured a major victory in its piracy lawsuit against YouTube-rippers and and their Russian operator Tofig Kurbanov.

A Virginia federal court issued a default judgment in favor of several prominent music companies after the defendant walked away from the lawsuit.

According to the order, there is a clear need to deter the behavior of Kurbanov who failed to hand over evidence including server logs. “A less drastic sanction is unlikely to salvage this case,” the judge wrote.

$82 million Damages Award?

Following this win, the RIAA asked for an injunction to stop the sites’ worldwide stream-ripping activities and demanded $83 million in damages. Both of these requests were taken up in a report and recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge Buchanan.

“Defendant’s Websites caused the Plaintiffs to lose profits and streaming revenue because of the enormous internet traffic to and use of the Websites’ stream-ripping functions,” Judge Buchanan wrote.

The recommendation was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton last year, securing a multi-million dollar win for the music companies. That same order also spelled the end of the stream-ripping sites, at least in theory.


The Russian operator of and didn’t give up immediately. Shortly after the million-dollar judgment came in he requested an appeal and last month the case was docketed at the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The filing suggested that Kurbanov would like to continue the fight but this week it became clear that won’t be the case. On the contrary, the appeal was dismissed voluntarily, before it even started.

“[T]he parties hereby stipulate and agree that the above-captioned appeal is dismissed with prejudice. Each party shall bear its own costs. Defendant-Appellant is responsible for paying any Court fees that are due,” the filing reads.

appeal dismissed

Money Ran Out

The voluntary dismissal doesn’t necessarily mean that the operator accepts the lower court’s judgment. Instead, TorrentFreak is informed that he doesn’t have the money to fund a proper challenge.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, defense attorney Val Gurvits explains that Mr. Kurbanov simply ran out of money. The lawyer still believes, however, that the District Court’s decision was worth challenging.

“It is disappointing that a person who has never once set foot in the United States and who has only operated a website accessible anywhere in the world can be ordered to appear in a court half way around the world,” Gurvits says.

“And, if he fails to do so – or simply can’t afford to do so – that he can be hit with millions of dollars of damages even when there has been no evidence that the Plaintiffs actually suffered any damages as a result of his conduct.”

What Now?

Absent an appeal, the $83 million damages award in favor of the RIAA stands, although that might be hard to pay without funds. In addition, the court’s order also prohibits Mr. Kurbanov from keeping and up and running.

At the time of writing, both YouTube rippers are still accessible in most parts of the world but the site’s operator previously decided to ban all U.S. traffic, which is still the case today.


TorrentFreak asked the RIAA whether it has any plans to ensure that the YouTube rippers comply with the court order but the music group prefers not to comment any further at this time.

Mr. Kurbanov hasn’t commented publicly on his decision or future plans but his attorney notes that the defense would have liked to take the appeal forward.

“We would have loved to be able to continue this fight on the merits, but unfortunately our client was unable to do so,” Gurvits says.


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