Hollywood and Netflix demand millions from pirate streaming giant PrimeWire * TorrentFreak

Over the years and due to their popularity and resilience, a number of pirate sites have become household names. The Pirate Bay is perhaps the most obvious example in the torrent space with competitors RARBG and 1337x.

In pirate streaming, partly because of the way sites tend to copy other people’s branding, the obvious long-time players are less easy to identify. However, one platform that has stood the test of time is PrimeWire, which in one form or another has been around for perhaps eight years – even more if its old branding 1channel.ch is taken into account. .

PrimeWire’s domains are blocked by court order in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Portugal, and the site has been repeatedly called a “notorious market” by the MPA.

MPA and ACE Prepare Legal Action Against PrimeWire

Despite all this negative attention, PrimeWire has managed to stay in business, but over the past month new signs have shown that the MPA and the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment have not given up on the fight.

In a flurry of DMCA summons filed in the United States in November, PrimeWire came under pressure again after the MPA / ACE was granted permission to force Cloudflare to hand over any details it had. it owns on the operator of PrimeWire.

A new lawsuit filed in the United States this week reveals that while this particular effort did not achieve its primary goal (other than identifying an IP address in Texas), it did not deter the MPA to move forward with a new lawsuit to bring PrimeWire to its knees.

Hollywood and Netflix files copyright infringement lawsuit

Filed by companies operated by Paramount, Universal, Warner, Columbia, Disney and Netflix, the lawsuit targets 10 “John Doe” defendants doing business together as PrimeWire. Three domains are listed – PrimeWire.li, PrimeWire.ag, and PrimeWire.vc – which together provide access to a huge library of thousands of TV shows and movies, including recent theatrical releases. Ghostbusters: the afterlife and disney Encanto.

“The scale of the defendants’ offense is mind-boggling. The defendants attracted approximately 20 million monthly visits to PrimeWire websites in the United States, a number which has continued to increase, ”the complaint states.

“More than half of the world’s traffic comes from users in the United States. Not surprisingly, PrimeWire is one of the most popular websites to find pirated content in the United States.

PrimeWire makes it easier to access pirated content

Like countless similar portals, PrimeWire does not directly host pirated content, but serves as an index for movies and TV shows hosted elsewhere. Feeds are either integrated into the PrimeWire site or provided to users through third party sites and repositories to which PrimeWire manages links.

“The defendants encourage and induce the provision and consumption of illegal content through the PrimeWire service. Defendants use copyrighted works as bait to attract as many audiences as possible, so that defendants benefit from the advertisements presented to their users.

“By their conduct, the defendants intentionally induce and knowingly contribute to unauthorized reproductions, public performances and large-scale display of copyrighted works,” says the complaint.

In 2013, we posted an interview with someone who at the time provided movies and TV shows to sites like PrimeWire. According to the complaint, this type of activity continues at PrimeWire, with the site operators subjecting the links to a moderation process. This shows that they know the content is infringing.

“Once users start using PrimeWire, defendants continue to urge them to post links to infringing content. Defendants tell users which ‘approved’ sites they can use as sources for counterfeit feeds, and defendants focus on sites that pay users to download counterfeit content, ”they add.

Advertising and sponsorship programs

The complaint states that the purpose of PrimeWire is to make money through the illegal exploitation of copyrighted content. This is allegedly achieved in several ways, including through the use of third-party ad networks such as Clickadu.

“Ad networks connect advertisers to the PrimeWire service. Advertisers pay networks, and networks then credit PrimeWire with a share of that revenue when users open the ads on the PrimeWire site, ”the complaint notes, adding that PrimeWire also generates revenue from company referral programs. VPN.

The accused “know” that their activities are illegal

In an effort to show that the breach at the site is intentional, the studios say the conduct of PrimeWire operators includes measures to hide their identities. For example, some site moderators use aliases (Dev_Team, Silverrain, Fugitive and drodman250) while domains are registered with false information. Comments posted on site are also cited.

“The defendants openly scoff at the idea of ​​being constrained by legal rules. The defendants’ “Legal Stuff” web page advises users that the “law governing the use of the site” will be that of the Klingon Empire, the country in which primewire.ag is based and from which all services are provided ” , the complaint adds.

PrimeWire is illegal and unfair competition

According to the lawsuit, the PrimeWire service is not only illegal, but also constitutes unfair competition for VOD services, including Disney +, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount + and Peacock. The complaint also states why users of the site might prefer it to these legitimate services.

In addition to being free, PrimeWire offers access to a library of titles “not available on a single licensed VOD service”. This, of course, because PrimeWire doesn’t care about the intricacies of licensing content, which places it in an unfair competitive advantage that undermines the business models of the requesting studios.

“If nothing is done, the illicit conduct of the defendants will continue to increase. The accused user base will continue to grow. All of this behavior causes immediate and irreparable harm to the plaintiffs, and this harm will continue until the defendants are prohibited from engaging in their unlawful conduct, ”the studios add.

Copyright infringement claims

The plaintiffs allege that PrimeWire intentionally induces the infringement of copyrighted works by providing links to external sources. This violates the exclusive right of public performance studios, they say.

The complaint adds that the defendants further induce a violation of their exclusive rights of reproduction and public performance by encouraging users to provide counterfeit links to films and television shows.

“In order for a link to provide access to a infringing feed, a third party must make an infringing reproduction of the copyrighted work to serve as the source copy of the feed. The flows of these counterfeit copies to the users of the defendants themselves contravene the public representations of the underlying works, ”notes the complaint.

Accordingly, the plaintiffs assert that they are entitled to damages and benefits from the defendants (to be determined at trial) or, alternatively, to statutory damages up to a maximum of $ 150,000 per infringing work. The sample of allegedly infringing content on PrimeWire and listed in the complaint reaches 138 movies and TV shows.

The studios’ second cause of action alleges copyright infringement by contribution.

“Defendants systematically amass thousands of links from third parties to copyrighted works that have necessarily been reproduced before being hosted by third party websites and cyberlockers (i.e. repositories third-party servers that store counterfeit copies of movies and TV shows) from which end users can stream the content directly, ”the complaint read.

“The defendants contribute materially to the infringement of third parties. The defendants configure and promote the use of PrimeWire to connect users to unauthorized online sources distributing the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works.

“By operating PrimeWire, defendants facilitate, encourage and permit the direct infringement of plaintiffs’ copyrighted works.”

Based on the fact that the infringement is intentional, the studios are again claiming $ 150,000 in statutory damages for each infringing work, plus attorney’s fees and full costs.

Requests for injunction

Finally, the plaintiffs seek an injunction that will prevent the defendants from hosting, linking, making available and / or indexing any of their copyrighted works, or from taking any action that would allow a third to do so.

They are also asking the court to make an order to deactivate the site’s domain names and IP addresses.

The complaint and the list of infringing works are available here and here (pdf)