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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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Judge Recommends to Deny $250,000 Claim Against YTS Sites and Apps

Earlier this year, Hawaiian anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper turned some of the most popular piracy brands into a powerful anti-piracy tool.

The attorney, who is listed as director of the company ’42 Ventures,’ registered several piracy-related trademarks, including ‘YTS’ and ‘Popcorn Time.’

The company, which was founded last year, legally claimed these marks and uses them on a website that doesn’t draw any significant traffic. What did get people’s attention, however, were the enforcement actions that followed.

Shortly after the trademarks were granted, Culpepper managed to suspend the Twitter account of a popular Popcorn Time fork. He offered to return it in exchange for a Popcorn Time licensing deal, which failed.

Trademark Lawsuits Against YTS Sites and Apps

In addition, the attorney also filed a trademark infringement lawsuit on behalf of 42 Ventures. The lawsuit targeted the operators of yst.lt, ytsag.me, yts.ae, ytsmovies.cc, yts.ms, as well as apps such as “Y Movies,” “YTS Movies Library” and “YTS movies.”

The people behind these sites, who are believed to be from India, China and Egypt, used the YTS brand as a promotional tool. This isn’t uncommon, as YTS has been a popular pirate brand for years, after originally belonging to a long-defunct release group.

Over the past weeks, one of the site operators agreed to settle the trademark infringement matter for $200,000, on paper. The other four didn’t respond to the allegations at all, which prompted the lawyer to request default judgments of $250,000 against all defendants.

“Defendants purposefully utilize Plaintiff’s YTS mark in their domain registrations and app names in order to mislead consumers about the origins of its goods and services as connected to Plaintiff, resulting in a substantial loss of income, profits, and goodwill,” Culpepper informed the court.

42 Ventures Requests Default Judgment

Since none of the defendants showed up in court there was little to stop a victory, except for the court itself, it now appears.

In a ‘findings and recommendations’ issued this week, US Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter recommends the court to deny the $250,000 damages request and dismiss the complaint because the court lacks personal jurisdiction.

For a court to decide over a defendant, it should have the right to do so. This is usually not a problem when a US citizen is taken to court in the US but, in this case, the defendants are foreigners. That changes everything.

The court can only issue a judgment when it’s shown that the defendants “purposefully directed their activities towards the United States.” Here, Judge Porter is not convinced that this is the case.

According to Culpepper, the trademark-infringing YTS sites and apps were available in the US, used US-based services including domain registrars, and used US-based payment providers, among other things.

Judge Doesn’t Believe Court Has Jurisdiction

Judge Porter doesn’t dispute these facts but doesn’t agree that this is sufficient to show that the court has personal jurisdiction.

“The Court finds that Defendants’ use of United States-based companies for webhosting and domain name services and for paying for those services is insufficient to show that Defendants aimed their allegedly infringing acts at the United States,” Porter writes.

The Judge notes that in some cases people simply choose to work with US-based companies because they are the biggest brands in their industries, or have a monopoly. Not because they’re from the US.

“Indeed, as other district courts have recognized ‘it is more accurate to say that [the defendant] utilized Apple and Google because they arguably have a virtual monopoly on the channels in which developers can distribute application-based software—not because they have offices in [the United States]’.”

If this logic indeed applies, then all foreigners with a Gmail account would subject themselves to the jurisdiction of US courts, which is something Judge Porter doesn’t agree with.

Two of the defendants also used advertising services, cookies and web beacons, to gather information about individual visitors, some of whom are from the US. Culpepper brought this in as another argument to show that the court has jurisdiction but that was disregarded as well.

“Finally, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s allegations regarding Defendants Mav and Shan collecting information about users on their websites is insufficient to show that these Defendants have done engaged in ‘conduct directly targeting the forum’.”

Judge Recommends Dismissal

All in all, Judge Porter concludes that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendants. He therefore recommends denying the motion for a $250,000 default judgment and suggests a dismissal of the entire case.

This recommendation has yet to be adopted by the court in a final ruling and can be contested by Culpepper. However, the first signs don’t look positive for the trademark owner.

In closing, it is worth pointing out that YTS.mx, which is by far the most popular YTS site, wasn’t targeted in this trademark case. However, the same lawyer previously negotiated copyright infringement settlements with the site’s owner, totaling well over a million dollars.

A copy of the findings and recommendations published by US Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter 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.

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Movie Companies Sue YTS Users Who Ignored Settlement Demands

In recent years, YTS.mx has become one of the most-used torrent sites, serving millions of visitors a day.

The site can be used without registering an account. However, those who sign up get some extra features, such as an option to bookmark titles. These added benefits can be handy but a few months ago we learned that having an account also comes with risks.

Movie Companies Target YTS site and Users

At the start of the year, a group of movie companies filed lawsuits against alleged YTS users. In doing so, they relied on information that appeared to come directly from the YTS user database, including email addresses.

The timing of these lawsuits was interesting. The complaints were filed around the same time the alleged operator of YTS signed a settlement deal with the same movie companies, agreeing to pay a substantial settlement fee.

We later learned that, in order to resolve the matter, YTS had shared information from its database with the movie outfits. While it was a one-time handover, there was enough information to go after a long list of users. Today we can report on the latest development in this saga.

Shared User Data Triggers Settlement Demands

As reported earlier, the YTS user data ended up at the makers of films such as “Hellboy” and “Rambo: Last Blood,” and “London has Fallen,” who used it to their advantage. In addition to filing lawsuits, they also approached alleged file-sharers with settlement demands directly.

With the threat of potential legal action, several users are likely to pay up. However, not everyone does. A few days ago, a dozen movie companies sued three alleged YTS users who failed to respond to these out-of-court settlement demands.

In a complaint filed at a federal court in Colorado, the copyright holders accuse the defendants of sharing pirated copies of titles including Hunter Killer, Rambo V: Last Blood, London Has Fallen, Hellboy, and Mechanic: Resurrection.

The legal paperwork identifies the three, who are all Colorado residents, as Stephen Moody, William Nelson, and Ty Tidwell. They all signed up with YTS using email addresses linked to Microsoft, which presumably shared information with the movie companies through a subpoena.

“Defendant William Nelson entered the name ‘William Nelson’ and the state ‘Colorado’ when initially registering for his email address ‘[redacted]@hotmail.com’ on September 26, 2000,” the complaint reads, adding that he registered for an account with the YTS website using that same email.

The same defendant also used a VPN on several occasions. According to the copyright holders he did so “to conceal his illicit activities,” however, that offered little help.

Sued YTS Users Ignored Settlement Demands

With the IP-addresses, email addresses, and download records from YTS, paired with information gathered from public torrent trackers, the movie companies reached out to the three men with a settlement offer. We believe that this is similar to the letters we reported on in the past, where a settlement of around $1,000 was proposed.

The three defendants didn’t respond to the offer, according to the complaint.

“Defendant [name] has ignored repeated communications from Plaintiffs’ counsel requesting him to cease and desist his unlawful activity and pay a portion of Plaintiffs’ damages,” it reads.

The three defendants are all accused of direct and contributory copyright infringement by sharing the various films. The movie companies request actual or statutory damages as compensation for the losses they suffered.

In addition, the three men also allegedly violated the DMCA by distributing content with altered copyright management information. According to the complaint, distributing files with words like “YTS” added to the title could induce others to pirate these films. For this, the movie companies want to be compensated too.

A copy of the full complaint, filed on behalf of Plaintiffs: Fallen Productions, Hunter Killer Productions, Rambo V Productions, LHF Productions, Millennium Funding, HB Productions, Stoic Productions, Voltage Holdings, Gunfighter Productions, SF Film, Definition Delaware, and After Productions, is available here (pdf)

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

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Law Firm Working With YTS Obtains Subpoena To Discover Registrant of 1337x.to

Over the past several months we’ve been documenting the unfolding of one of the most unusual situations in torrent site history.

After being placed under intense legal pressure by Hawaii-based law firm Culpepper IP, torrent site YTS – the second most-visited torrent site on the planet – is now confirmed to be working with the law firm, providing it with user data to be used in copyright infringement actions.

During the past week there have been several new developments, with some interesting twists and turns.

For example, yesterday we revealed that information provided by YTS is now being used to fuel what appears to be a new email-based settlement demand scheme against the site’s own users.

We also reported that, in response to YTS’s apparent cooperation in legal action, large torrent sites 1337x, TorrentGalaxy (TGx) and Glotorrents banned YTS uploads to their platforms, cutting themselves off from the now-tarnished reputation of YTS. However, at least one of them has a new issue to contend with.

Culpepper IP Now Targeting 1337x and an Uploader

Following the announcement by 1337x, which was the first site to ban YTS uploads, Culpepper IP went to court in Hawaii with a brand new request. On behalf of Splintered LLC and using the increasingly-common DMCA subpoena process, Culpepper IP hopes to obtain at least two sets of key information, one that relates to 1337x itself and the other one of its uploaders.

The dispute centers around the comedy-romance movie ‘Playing it Cool’. First released in Estonia in 2014, it was made available in the United States during 2015 but was widely panned by critics, achieving a score of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, however, links to the torrents of the movie are causing problems for 1337x.

DMCA Subpoena Filed in Hawaii

The subpoena targets two main third-party entities that provide services to 1337x. At the top level, it seeks to compel the Tonics Domain Corporation, the operator of 1337x’s .to domain, to reveal the mailing address, email address, telephone number and payment details of the “customer(s) that registered domain: 1337x.to from August 20, 2017 through August 20, 2020.”

Since 1337x uses the services of Cloudflare the subpoena also seeks to compel the CDN company to hand over the name, physical address, email address, telephone number, payment records and IP address log history from August 30, 2020 to the present day. It references a specific ‘infringing’ URL from where a torrent related to ‘Playing it Cool’ can be downloaded, as shown in the image below.

Playing it Cool 1337x

The image above clearly shows buttons for magnet links and a torrent file download but follows up with a ‘PLAY NOW (STREAM)’ button too. This leads to a third-party platform that claims to offer the movie to stream but according to reports should not be trusted.

Whether this URL was fully tested to be infringing before the DMCA subpoena was applied for isn’t clear. Nevertheless, Culpepper IP also want Cloudflare to hand over information that would allow it to find out who is supposedly infringing the rights of the movie company on that site too.

DMCA Subpoena Granted – But What Next?

The law firm notes, correctly, that this authorization doesn’t have to come from a judge but can be signed off by a clerk of the court, which is exactly what happened just before the weekend.

Whether Tonic or Cloudflare will have any useful information to hand over remains unclear but they will be required to do so during the first few days of September in order to comply with the terms of the subpoena. The big question thereafter is what Culpepper IP intend to do with that information, should it prove actionable.

As previously reported, the company managed to get piracy app CotoMovies onside, which shut down and handed over information on its users. YTS, as we already know, is also cooperating with information to assist lawsuits.

Meanwhile, under the direction of the same law firm, Popcorn Time, Showbox-linked, and other YTS-branded operations are under pressure too, some on the trademark front.

The DMCA subpoena documents relating to 1337x are available here (1,2,3 pdf)

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

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YTS Torrent Giant is Part of a Bizarre & Brand New Anti-Piracy Scheme

It’s public knowledge that sites like The Pirate Bay store IP addresses and other data relating to its users.

Users hope that this data will be handled with care but in 2013, when the site effectively did the unthinkable, many users cheered the site on instead.

In order to assist the criminal prosecution of the infamous lawyers behind the now-defunct Prenda Law copyright troll outfit, The Pirate Bay released user logs that identified the company as the uploader of several movies. This and other evidence put two lawyers behind bars, where both remain today.

Seven years later, users of YTS – which is currently the second most-visited torrent site in the world – have an entirely more worrying scenario to consider because this time around, they are on the receiving end.

FACT: YTS is Handing Over User Data to a Law Firm

This saga has been running for some time but this week we were able to confirm what we’ve long suspected. The operator of YTS is actively handing over personal information about his own users to a law firm in Hawaii, which is acting on behalf of companies behind movies including Hellboy and Rambo: Last Blood.

The background to this ‘partnership’ appears to have its roots in cases where YTS itself was sued by attorney Kerry Culpepper for copyright infringement.

Since or around that time, YTS operator Senthal Vijay Segaran seems to have started cooperating with Culpepper, giving up email and IP addresses to the attorney in support of lawsuits against alleged pirates in the United States.

What we are seeing now, however, is that user data handed over to the attorney by YTS’s operator is being used in emailed threats to alleged users of YTS, demanding cash settlements to make potential lawsuits disappear.

Emailed Pay-Up-Or-Else Threats

TorrentFreak recently obtained an email sent by Culpepper IP to an alleged user of YTS. It begins with three pieces of information; the email and IP address of the recipient, plus the date (but not the precise time) of the alleged infringement. (Note: We have redacted some information to protect the privacy of our source)

It continues by stating that the law firm previously filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Hawaii on behalf of its clients and “subsequently obtained identifying contact information for many of these users from the YTS website operator, including yours.”

The point of the email, it adds, is one of “courtesy” before legal action is taken that may result in additional costs.

With there being no doubt whatsoever that YTS data is helping to power this campaign, the email claims that the recipient “logged into the website YTS using the email address [redacted] from the IP address [redacted] and illegally downloaded a torrent file for copying our clients’ motion picture…”

In isolation, this claim is interesting. Torrent files contain no copyrighted content and it isn’t illegal to download them as they contain only metadata, i.e data that describes other data. No one has ever been prosecuted for downloading a .torrent file – anywhere, ever. That’s because it does not necessarily follow that the .torrent file downloader subsequently loaded it into a torrent client to download and/or share the work it references.

It is possible for the IP address of a user to be observed sharing the actual content in a torrent swarm if they later chose to do that, but the emailed letter offers no indication that is the case.

To be clear: downloading a torrent file is not illegal, sharing copyrighted content is. And there is a big difference as far as the courts are concerned. That being said, evidence showing the downloading of a torrent file on a specific date via a torrent site account attached to an email address, could also be accompanied by IP address evidence from a torrent swarm. That could be much more compelling in court.

The Options on Offer According to the Emailed Letter

In common with most settlement schemes, the letter seeks a cash payment from the recipient. For privacy reasons, we aren’t detailing the exact amount but it’s around the $1,000 mark. In exchange for paying this amount quickly, the law firm offers a “comprehensive release of all legal claims”, including the recipient not becoming a named defendant in a lawsuit.

Somewhat unusually and for reasons that are not immediately clear, it also demands additional information.

This includes a signed declaration indicating the BitTorrent client used to carry out the alleged infringement, the name of the site or business that promoted that BitTorrent client, and whether the letter recipient has ever received a copyright warning notice from his or her Internet service provider.

One can only speculate as to how this information might be put to use in the future but it certainly sounds like a bigger picture is being formed. Recall, the same law firm – Culpepper IP – is also trying to hold Internet backbone company Hurricane Electric responsible for piracy carried out by BitTorrent users.

Why This Approach is So Unusual

Apart from the operator of one of the world’s largest torrent sites giving up the personal information of his users, it’s worth looking at the structure of how this is taking place.

A $1 million consent judgment from earlier this year between movie companies affiliated with Millennium Media (under the legal guidance of Culpepper IP) and YTS, positively identified India-resident Senthil Vijay Segaran and the UK company Techmodo Limited as the operators of YTS.

So, a UK company runs YTS? Perhaps we should let that sink in for a moment.

Techmodo Limited is officially registered with the government in the UK, with Segaran listed as the sole director. It hasn’t yet filed any meaningful accounts and the same is true for the company of the same name, also operated by Segaran, that was dissolved following a via compulsory strike-off just months earlier.

So, what we appear to have here is an official UK-registered company, which is subject to all relevant local law (both civil and criminal), being identified by plaintiffs in a US-lawsuit as the operator of an illegal site. We use the term ‘illegal’ here as guided by the High Court of England and Wales, which previously determined that YTS and hundreds of similar sites act illegally under civil law (at least) in the UK and should be blocked by local ISPs.

So the big questions must follow. If Techmodo Limited is the operator of YTS and YTS is a site that operates illegally, it seems highly unlikely that Techmodo Limited can legally operate the YTS site in the UK. What charges or challenges it might face are matters for HMRC and possibly even the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit because, when infringement is carried out in the course of business, it becomes a criminal offense.

Big Questions to Be Answered in Murky and Unchartered Waters

In summary, what we appear to have here is a verifiably illegal site, run through an ostensibly legal entity, collecting and processing private user information, then handing that data over to third-party overseas attorneys/media companies, ones that appear to know the legal status of the site and the company behind it. This, so that people can be approached for payments for alleged offenses that took place utilizing that illegal site.

We can only presume that Culpepper IP and its associates have done their homework, they’re lawyers after all, but this business and/or legal arrangement is unorthodox, to say the very least. If a UK precedent exists determining the legality of the transfer of this kind of user data in these circumstances, we’re completely unaware of it.

If nothing else, the bar seems to be set particularly low when a legal entity, Techmodo Limited, is stated to be the operator of an illegal site, one that’s also supplying private information on alleged infringers that were only able to infringe because the YTS site supplied the torrent files in the first place. Quite remarkable.

Copyright experts, privacy buffs, and company law lawyers on both sides of the pond are invited to write in with an opinion on the implications of this massive conundrum because this goes way, way beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

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

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Torrent Site 1337x Bans ‘YTS’ For Handing User Data to Movie Companies

For many seasoned BitTorrent users, 1337x.to is a familiar name. The site has been around for more than a decade and is generally known for its lively community.

Over the years 1337x has steadily climbed through the ranks. It is currently the third most-visited torrent site, trailing only behind The Pirate Bay and YTS.mx.

1337x Bans YTS Uploads

While there is generally not much competition between public torrent sites, 1337x’s staff has taken a big decision that directly impacts YTS. Without warning, the site decided to ban all YTS torrents, including the site’s upload bot.

The YTS bot is connected to YTS.mx and adds hundreds of new movie torrents every week. While many torrent users appreciate the constant stream of fresh content, the reputation of YTS has been severely damaged due to its operator sharing user details with movie studios.

These private details, including IP and email addresses, were taken from the YTS database which by itself has nothing to do with 1337x. However, the 1337x staff characterized this as a ‘snitch’ move and no longer wants to be associated with anything related to its rival.

“In light of the admin/sysop/owner giving up user data, I put banning them to a staff vote which returned a unanimous decision,” 1337x admin ‘Blackjesus’ informs TorrentFreak.

Movie Companies Sued YTS Users

YTS data-sharing practices have already resulted in several lawsuits against YTS users after the site itself previously signed a settlement agreement with movie studios.

Initially, it was not 100% certain that the data was being willingly shared but an article we published this week left no doubt. That prompted 1337x to take action, a decision that wasn’t taken lightly.

“We had considered banning them a few months back when it was first made public that they were potentially compromised and TF published several articles about them being sued but they magically continued to operate. Your latest article about them giving up user data was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

yts banned

The ban doesn’t affect YTS.mx directly, as they are still able to publish torrents on their own site. However, the releases on other sites act as a promotional tool as well, so in the long run, it can certainly have an impact.

EZTV Uploads Are Banned Too

While the initial ban only affected ‘YTS’ uploads and the ‘YTSAGx’ bot, it directly resulted in the ban of another popular account as well; EZTV.

EZTV.io hijacked the original EZTV group years ago and in 2015 started promoting the new YTS site after the official YTS group shut down. It wasn’t entirely clear if the two were connected but when the EZTV bot started uploading YTS releases to 1337x yesterday the site’s staff knew enough.

“After banning the YTS bot account the EZTV bot account started uploading YTS torrents. This is the confirmation we needed that EZTV and YTS are linked. We always suspected it. We know YTS and EZTV are not the original groups/sites,” Blackjesus tells us.

“We allowed them to upload on 1337x because people liked their small encodes and apart from stealing the YTS name they did not seem to be doing anything malicious. We never fully trusted them and that’s the reason that neither account was ever promoted to VIP.”

TorrentFreak reached out to YTS for a comment on the ban, but we have yet to hear back.

More Bans Coming?

People who search for YTS or EZTV on 1337x won’t see any new torrents and that’s not going to change anytime soon. At the time of writing, all older uploads from these accounts remain available.

The 1337x team are also discussing their concerns with other torrent site admins, who may follow the site’s decision.

“I suspect more bans to follow shortly,” Blackjesus says, noting that most people he spoke with agree on the matter.

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

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YTS Operator Helped Movie Companies Catch a Pirating User

Lawsuits against pirating Internet subscribers are far from new. In the US, they first appeared more than a decade ago.

Over the years, the evidence in these lawsuits was regularly contested. In some cases this led to success, with courts concluding that an IP-address alone is not enough. After all, an IP-address doesn’t identify a person.

Most prominent was a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales case, where the court ruled the copyright holders needed “something more” than just an IP-address. This ruling has been cited in dozens of cases since.

In response, some rightsholders have become more creative, fishing for piracy clues on social media accounts of alleged pirates. That already goes quite far. However, in a recent case in Hawaii, a group of movie companies took things up a notch after obtaining evidence directly from YTS, the most-visited torrent site.

Lawsuit Against YTS User and Army Veteran

The movie companies, including the makers of films such as “Hellboy” and “Rambo: Last Blood,” filed a lawsuit against US Army veteran Mical Mesot. As we revealed earlier, their claim was backed up with evidence that appeared to come directly from the database of YTS.mx.

We have spotted similar lawsuits in the past and speculated that YTS could have handed over this information. YTS’s operator previously signed several settlement agreements with the same movie companies, so both parties were in contact.

At the same time, it would be unprecedented for an operational torrent site to share user information with copyright holders.

Our initial suspicions couldn’t be backed up and neither YTS nor the movie companies’ lawyer was willing to share further details. However, a recent court filing confirms what happened.

A few days ago, the movie companies submitted a motion for a default judgment against the army veteran, who failed to respond in court. This motion again mentions the evidence from YTS’s database.

“Defendant registered for an account with the YTS website using a specific email address ‘angelwarcry@gmail.com’ and logged into the YTS website using this email address from IP address 72.130.106.50 to download torrent files of Plaintiffs’ Works,” the motion reads.

Data Verified by YTS Operator

In addition, the rightsholders’ lawyer adds that this data was ‘verified’ by the same YTS operator who previously settled copyright infringement lawsuits with movie companies.

“The data showing this activity was verified by Senthil Segaran – the operator of the YTS website,” he writes.

The lawyer references an exhibit where the YTS operator, who’s also the director of the UK company Techmodo Limited, declares under penalty of perjury that the database evidence is “the original or a duplicate of an original record.”

segaran certificate

The database information on its own doesn’t prove much. However, tied with other information, such as the IP-address that was tracked in the BitTorrent swarm and data gathered from Facebook, a pattern emerges. In any case, it’s certainly “something more.”

Movie Companies Demand $97,704.79

The movie companies inform the court that it is highly unlikely that a third party is responsible for the alleged copyright infringements. As such, they hold the army veteran liable and demand $97,704.79 in statutory damages.

This is a substantial amount, but according to the movie companies’ lawyer, it’s only a fraction of the number of downloads in the torrent swarm multiplied by the retail price of the films. That would be nearly $3 million.

“Thus, despite Defendant being liable for $2,995,916.28 for the infringements in the World and his, profits, Plaintiff Fallen is only requesting damages of $97,704.79, which is merely 15 percent of the actual damages ($651,365.26) caused by his infringements in the United States and less than 3.3 percent of the actual damages Worldwide,” the motion reads.

Privacy Concerns

What stands out most, in this case, is the involvement of YTS’ operator in a lawsuit against a user of the site. We don’t know how much data YTS has shared but it’s something users of the site must now keep in mind.

YTS previously informed us that users have the option to use fake email addresses and can also prevent their download histories from being tracked in the future by changing a setting. However, for army veteran Mical Mesot, that advice comes too late.

The odds appear to be stacked against the defendant in this case but it’s still up to the court to decide if statutory damages are justified, and if so, the suggested amount is appropriate.

A copy of the movie companies’ motion for a default judgment against Mical Mesot is available here (pdf)

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

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Anti-Piracy Lawyer Seeks $250,000 From ‘YTS’ Site and App Operators in Trademark Lawsuit

Earlier this year, Hawaiian anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper turned one of the most popular piracy brands into a powerful anti-piracy tool.

The attorney, who is listed as director of the company ’42 Ventures,’ registered several piracy-related trademarks, including ‘YTS’ and ‘Popcorn Time.’

The company, which was founded last year, legally claimed these marks which are used on a website that doesn’t draw any significant traffic. However, its partnership with the known anti-piracy lawyer definitely didn’t go unnoticed.

Shortly after the trademarks were granted, Culpepper managed to suspend the Twitter account of a popular Popcorn Time fork. He offered to return it in exchange for a Popcorn Time licensing deal, which failed.

In addition, the attorney also filed a trademark infringement lawsuit on behalf of 42 Ventures. The lawsuit targeted the operators of yst.lt, ytsag.me, yts.ae, ytsmovies.cc, yts.ms, as well as apps such as “Y Movies,” “YTS Movies Library” and “YTS movies.”

The people behind these sites, who are believed to be from India, China and Egypt, used the YTS brand as a promotional tool. This isn’t uncommon, as YTS has been a popular pirate brand for years, after originally belonging to a long-defunct release group.

YST.lt redirects to YST.mx which the logo of YTS.mx
YST

The lawsuit claimed that the use of the YTS ‘mark’ violates the newly obtained trademark of ’42 Ventures’ and the Hawaiian company demanded to be compensated.

The trademark angle is a new scheme that raises all kinds of legal questions. However, pirate sites and services are not usually fond of litigating cases in court and in this case it’s no different, as all four defendants failed to respond in court.

This lack of response prompted ’42 Ventures’ to request an entry of default, which was granted, and this week the company’s attorney laid out the demands in a motion for default judgment.

“Defendants knew they were causing harm not only to the US companies that produced these movies, but also Plaintiff’s trademark,” Culpepper informs the Hawaiian federal court.

“Defendants purposefully utilize Plaintiff’s YTS mark in their domain registrations and app names in order to mislead consumers about the origins of its goods and services as connected to Plaintiff, resulting in a substantial loss of income, profits, and goodwill,” he adds.

While not mentioned in the motion, TorrentFreak was previously informed that 42 Ventures uses the YTS trademark on the website popcorntime4u.com, where it links to YouTube videos from the “Popcorned Planet” channel.

As compensation for these alleged YTS trademark infringements, the company now demands $250,000 in statutory damages from four defendants. The fifth defendant, a Russian man named Patrick Petrov who owns YTS.ws, previously paid a settlement of $200,000.

While this is a substantive claim, there’s a good chance that it will be awarded, as none of the app and site owners are putting up a defense in court. Whether the Hawaiian company will be able to recoup these potential damages is another question.

In closing, it is worth pointing out that YTS.mx, which is by far the most popular YTS site, wasn’t targeted in this trademark case. However, the same lawyer previously negotiated copyright infringement settlements with the site’s owner, totaling well over a million dollars.

A copy of 42 Ventures’ motion for a default judgment, which is currently being reviewed in court, is available here (pdf)

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

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Movie Companies Identify Pirating YTS User as US Army Veteran

In recent years, YTS.mx has become one of the most-used torrent sites, serving millions of visitors every day.

The site can be used without registering an account. However, those who sign up get some extra features, such as an option to bookmark titles. These added benefits can be handy but a few months ago we learned that they also come with risks.

Movie Companies Target YTS Users

At the start of the year, a group of movie companies filed lawsuits against alleged YTS users. In doing so, they relied on information that appeared to come directly from the YTS user database.

The timing of these lawsuits was interesting. They were filed around the same time the alleged operator of YTS signed a settlement deal with the same movie companies, agreeing to pay a substantial settlement fee.

This remarkable settlement allowed YTS to remain online. The movie companies, including the makers of films such as “Hellboy” and “Rambo: Last Blood,” demanded that the site removed their films, which is indeed what happened.

By targeting YTS users directly the filmmakers were looking for more settlements. Instead of merely targeting an IP-address they had more information too, such as an email address and a download history list, which presumably comes from the YTS database.

Army Veteran Named as Defendant

In one of these lawsuits, the defendant was recently identified as Mr. Mesot, a Hawaiian army veteran, who’s currently pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawaii.

“Upon information and belief, Defendant worked for over 20 years in the United States Army performing technical inspections and maintenance,” the movie companies state, providing more background information.

While the rightsholders already had the man’s email address months ago, they still needed a subpoena to compel Internet provider Charter to give up a name. The ISP shared this information recently which allowed the movie companies to officially name Mr. Mesot as the defendant this month.

YTS Database Information

In addition to tracking the defendant’s IP-address through public torrent swarms, the amended complaint also shows a copy of user database information, which appears to come from YTS.

“As shown in Exhibit ‘4’, Defendant used the YTS account to download a torrent file associated with the Work Rambo V Last Blood from one or more computing devices under his control on Nov. 30, 2019 at 01:29:50 UTC,” the complaint reads.

YTS has never officially confirmed that it shared user information with the movie companies but based on the provided evidence, it certainly appears that way.

YTS Shares Privacy Suggestions

When we reached out to the site last week the operator didn’t have any further details on the alleged handover of data. However, YTS indirectly confirmed it by pointing out that users can wipe their download history and take other privacy precautions.

“As for the user’s privacy, they do not have to confirm their e-mail address,” YTS informed us, noting that the address is only needed to recover a lost password.

“Also, from their profile settings, they have the option to disable their own downloads history, if they wish,” YTS added.

We can confirm it’s entirely possible to sign up for a YTS account with a non-existent email address. Also, there is an option to disable the download history in the profile settings.

YTS settings

“It is very important for any user to use a commercial VPN to download torrents. It is a must. Otherwise, they have a lot of problems,” YTS noted.

While a VPN can indeed help, it can still lead to trouble when movie companies have access to private data. As we reported earlier this year, movie companies also sued a YTS user who was using a VPN.

In any case, signing up with YTS using an easily traceable email address doesn’t sound like a smart move.

A copy of the amended complaint naming Mr. Mesot as the YTS user who downloaded pirated content is available here (pdf)

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