MovieTube was sued by the Motion Picture Association of America and the online streaming movie service was shut down. MovieTube was an online service run from a variety of websites that allowed visitors to download or stream copyrighted movies.
The MPAA filed the complaint in New York, stating that MovieTube had openly infringed copyrights, going so far as to admit the infringement on MovieTube’s own Facebook page. The MPAA requested that MovieTube’s websites be taken down, damages be awarded to the plaintiffs, and domains owned by MovieTube be transferred to the plaintiffs. A default judgment of $10.5 million was ruled in the MPAA’s favor.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The MPAA Filed a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against MovieTube And Was Awarded $10.5 Million
The Motion Picture Association of America, whose chairman and president is former US Senator Chris Dodd (pictured above), filed the civil lawsuit against MovieTube. The MPAA represented Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Universal Studios, and Disney in the complaint. The lawsuit was filed in a New York District Court, stating that MovieTube is a streaming video service that provides and promotes copyright infringement for the purpose of profit, TorrentFreak reported. The lawsuit included four infringement counts, among them is direct copyright infringement by distributing and publicly performing copyrighted works and infringing by promoting the movies through social media, meta-tags, and keywords.
The complaint also pointed out that MovieTube did not deny that it was infringing copyrights. On page 2 of the complaint, the plaintiffs quote one of MovieTube’s Facebook pages as saying: “Luckily we are not a US company so we do not need to respect US laws.” You can read the entire PDF of the complaint here:
In late November, the court awarded a default judgment to the MPAA. The MPAA would be awarded $10.5 million in damages and all related domains were also handed over to them. The default judgment was entered because the operators of MovieTube never responded to the claims in court, TorrentFreak reported. Because the operators of MovieTube are not known, the MPAA won’t likely see the money awarded to it.
2. The Websites Named in the Lawsuit Are Shut Down And Have Been Given to the MPAA
The complaint named 29 websites that belong to MovieTube. All of the websites named in the lawsuit are shut down and, after a default judgment was entered in late November, they will be transferred to the MPAA. The complaint included a request for a temporary injunction to disable all MovieTube websites and a request that domain name registries disable MovieTube domains and make them available for re-registry by the MPAA and its plaintiffs. A portion of the complaint that includes the names of the websites reads:
MovieTube Defendants operate at least twenty-nine (29) MovieTube Websites at the following Internet domain names: MovieTube.tw, MovieTube.ph, TVStreaming.cc, MovieTube.sx, MovieTube.pw, MovieTubeNow.com, MovieTube.tf, 5 MovieTube.co, MovieOnDrive.com, MovieTube.vc, TuneVideo.net, MovieTube.mn, MovieTube.cc, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la, KissDrama.net, MovieTube.so, MovieTube.click, MovieTubeHD.co, MovieTubeHD.net, MovieTubeHD.org, MovieTubeHD.tv, MovieTubeHD.us, MovieTubenow.in and TuneMovie.me.
If actual damages are not rewarded, the MPAA requested $150,000 for each infringed work, with a maximum statutory damage of $2,000,000 for each infringement. The MPAA was awarded $10.5 million.
3. At Least One MovieTube Website May Still be Online
Although all the websites named in the lawsuit are currently shut down, at least one website that may be associated with MovieTube is still up. The website, called MovieTubeNow.ws, does not have the MovieTube logo on its site. However, a similar website called MovieTubeNow.com was listed in the complaint. The website was created in May 2015 and currently has about 12,000 unique visitors a day. It is not yet known if this website is actually associated with MovieTube.
Comparing the WHOIS domain information between MovieTubeNow.ws and MovieTubeNow.com does not reveal any similarities. An unverified Twitter account that claims to belong to MovieTube, @MovieTubePW, posted on July 25 that “#MovieTube has been taken down for good! We will try our hardest to bring #MovieTube back.” The account does not mention MovieTubeNow.ws.
4. The Names of the Owners of MovieTube Are Not Currently Known
The names of the owners of MovieTube are not known. Several unverified Facebook accounts, such as the one pictured above, state that they are part of MovieTube, but do not name owners or people in charge of the site.
The lawsuit itself stated that the defendants’ true names were unknown at the time that the complaint was filed in New York. The owners of MovieTube are hiding their identities, the complaint stated. The WHOIS domain information that MovieTube provided was fake and proxy registration surrogates were used. The lawsuit complaint reads:
Plaintiffs are presently unaware of Defendants’ true names. Defendants have hidden their identities by providing false publicly accessible WHOIS domain name registration information, in violation of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and registrar policies, and/or have concealed their identities by hiding behind “proxy” or “privacy” registration surrogates, for the domain names of the MovieTube Websites.
5. Many People Expressed Dismay Over MovieTube’s Removal
MovieTube’s removal shocked many people online. Posts on Twitter and Facebook expressed surprise about the sites’ being shut down and wondering what had happened. Here are a few of the reactions online: