Linking to movies leads to $4 million in fines
May 23, 2008
Hollywood has been granted another victory in its war against piracy, this time at the expense of two linking sites that the Motion Picture Association of America believes profited from enabling copyright infringement. Both ShowStash.net and Cinematube.net have been hit with multimillion dollar judgments recently for copyright infringement of various movies and TV shows.
Even though ShowStash and Cinematube didn't host any of these files, both were found guilty of contributory copyright infringement, according to the judges' opinions, because they searched for, identified, collected, and indexed links to illegal copies of movies and TV shows. Aside from monetary damages, both sites are now prohibited from engaging in further activity that would infringe upon the studios' work.
The damages totaled $2.7 million for ShowStash and $1.3 million for Cinematube, neither of which were particularly well-known to the general Internet community. The MPAA doesn't seem to care much that it gives free publicity to these tiny sites when it makes announcements of its litigation plans, however. The organization apparently hopes that others will merely feel threatened by the prospect of paying out millions of dollars and shut down voluntarily.
"Our goal is to stop this kind of blatant and illegal activity," MPAA executive VP John Malcolm said in a statement. "These judgments indicate that the studios will not hesitate to vigorously pursue litigation against this type of site."
The MPAA announced the two judgments just two weeks after the organization was awarded $110 million in damages from TorrentSpy. The MPAA hailed the decision as a clear victory for the movie studios that served as the icing on the cake after TorrentSpy's announcement that it would shut down for good on March 24.
With two more (albeit relatively small) victories under its belt, the MPAA is even more confident in its stance against sites that merely link to potentially copyrighted material. It wouldn't be surprising to see ShowStash and Cinematube eventually mirror TorrentSpy's decision to shut down, too.
It's not uncommon to find illegal movies being hosted on servers outside the US, which is why sites based in the US have not hesitated to merely tell users how to get to them. The increase in lawsuits against sites that point to illegal movies, however, may push more of them to move operations overseas too in order to skirt further litigation.
- If you have PACER access, Cinematube's is case number 2:07-cv-06257-GW-RC and ShowStash's is case number 2:2007cv04510