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19 ‘YTS Users’ Sued for Sharing Pirated Copies of “Ava”

In recent months we have reported in detail how users of the popular torrent site YTS were sued in US courts.

In several of these cases, information shared by the site’s operator was brought in as evidence. The user info was obtained by anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper, as part of an undisclosed settlement agreement.

This week the same attorney is back in court representing ‘Eve Nevada LLC,’ the company behind the film Ava, which is shared widely on various pirate sites. Again, YTS is prominently mentioned, but this time things are different.

The complaint, filed at a Hawaii federal court, lists 19 ‘John Doe’ defendants who are only known by their IP-addresses. These addresses were caught sharing the film via public torrent trackers. Specifically, the complaint mentions a file titled “Ava (2020) [1080p] [WEBRip] [5.1] [YTS.MX].”

This title leads the filmmakers to the conclusion that the defendant must have been users of the YTS site. Or as the complaint puts it:

“Upon information and belief, each of the Defendants registered for an account on the YTS website using an email address or installed a BitTorrent Client application on their device that retrieved torrent files from the YTS website.”

ava defendants

This same conclusion, in addition to the fact that defendants downloaded the same file, is also used as an argument to join the 19 defendants in one case. However, based on the information presented, it’s far from clear that at all of these people were indeed YTS users.

Unlike in the other cases, the copyright holder didn’t present any information from the YTS user base, likely because it doesn’t have any. The data-sharing was a one-time arrangement several months ago, long before YTS released the movie Ava.

While it’s possible that the defendants indeed used YTS, they could have easily downloaded the .torrent file from other sites where the same file was made available. Although several torrent sites banned YTS torrents, many haven’t, including the illustrious Pirate Bay.

Whether the defendants are actually YTS users or not may not make much of a difference. At least not for the copyright infringement allegations.

In addition to direct and contributory copyright infringement, the complaint also accuses the defendant of violating the DMCA by altering copyright management information (CMI). In this case, that means distributing the movie Ava with an edited title, which references YTS.

“Particularly, the Defendants distributed the file names that included CMI that had been altered to include the wording ‘YTS’. Defendants knew that the wording “YTS” originated from the notorious movie piracy website for which each had registered accounts and/or actively used,” the complaint reads.

It’s doubtful that any of these cases will be fought on the merits. When the defendant’s personal information is exposed it’s likely that they will receive a settlement request, which is usually around $1,000. Those who refuse to settle can argue their case in court, but that’s going to cost as well. They can eventually win the case, but not without investing in a legal defense first.

As far as we know this is the first time people have been sued for downloading the film Ava. The company Eve Nevada is a new name as well, but one with familiar connections. It’s connected to the broader Voltage Pictures family, which has sued tens of thousands of people over the years.

A copy of the complaint filed at the US District Court of Hawaii is available here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Accused Movie Pirate Couple End Up in Court After Profane Tirade

Piracy warnings come in all shapes and sizes. While some notices have no teeth, others should be handled with extreme caution.

Typically, alarm bells should go off when a letter is sent by a lawyer who knows who you are.

One such warning was sent to Mrs. Parks in early June, both by first class mail and e-mail. The Arizona woman is one of the people whose personal details were shared by the torrent site YTS, an issue we addressed in detail earlier.

Exposed by YTS Database Info

This YTS database ended up in the hands of anti-piracy attorney Kerry Culpepper, who’s actively exploiting it. The lawyer represents several movie companies and has used the information in the database to request out of court settlements from pirates.

Mrs. Parks, who allegedly downloaded the film “Lost Child,” was given the chance to resolve her case for $1,000 in four separate payments. If the first three payments arrived on time, the final $250 would be waived.

This same tactic is being used on dozens if not hundreds of alleged YTS users. It’s not clear how many people settle, but Mrs. Parks and her husband Mr. Dabney initially seemed willing to take the deal, which was confirmed over the phone and via email on June 8.

Agreement to Settle for $1,000

After this initial agreement, communications stopped for a while. Parks and Dabney never sent back the signed settlement agreement and a reminder on August 31 remained unanswered.

This course of events was written up in a complaint filed at a federal court in Arizona yesterday. The plan was to resolve the matter outside of court, even after the same IP-address shared another movie last week.

“On or about September 21, 2020, after still having received no communication from Defendants, Plaintiffs’ counsel determined that the same IP address Defendants used to download the torrent file for Lost Child (47.216.212.227) was used to download and share copies of the motion picture Saving Christmas,” Culpepper informs the court.

The complaint lists both Mrs. Parks and Mr. Dabney as the defendants. They are accused of using one and the same YTS account and allegedly downloaded the film “Lost Child” last year and “Saving Christmas” a few days ago, after which the attorney sent another settlement request.

“On September 21, 2020, Plaintiffs’ counsel sent Defendant Dabney a demand by email for the full $1000 of the settlement agreement and an additional $750 as damages for infringing the motion picture Saving Christmas,” the complaint reads.

Husband Responds With Tirade

After weeks of silence, Mr. Dabney responded to that request. He was not open to any settlements, however, and accused the lawyer of being “a fraud and a scam,” threatening to take action against the lawyer and his “fake law firm.”

The movie companies’ attorney responded by confirming that he would indeed file a lawsuit, reminding the alleged pirate that he wouldn’t get far in court with such scandalous language. That didn’t change the man’s tone, however, on the contrary.

“Look here. You will NOT get a dime out out [sic] me. You think that language was bad you ain’t seen sh*t fa**ot. That’s not a threat that’s a f*ckin promise. Put that in your records f*ckin bitch ni**a. Dude with a girls [sic] name. Get the f*ck out here and leave me family alone,” he replied.

In a follow-up email, Mr. Dabney further urged the attorney to “…stop looking at [his] IP address…” while accusing him of “…watching [his] 3 year old through the camera…”

Case Goes to Court

Instead of backing off, the attorney quoted these emails in the complaint he filed at the US District Court of Arizona. Representing the owners of the films “Lost Child” and “Saving Christmas,” he accuses the two defendants of both direct and contributory copyright infringement.

In addition, the complaint also includes a “breach of contract” allegation against Mrs. Parks, who allegedly failed to honor the settlement agreement that was agreed on earlier.

In court, the husband and wife now face damages claims that may end up being substantially higher than the original settlement. In addition to the damages claim, the complaint also requests compensation for legal costs and attorneys’ fees.

A copy of the complaint, filed on behalf of Santa Files Productions LLC, and Laundry Films Inc is available here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.