Anonymous VPN users could be identified in movie company's lawsuit

midian182

Posts: 6,185   +51
Staff member
A hot potato: People who use a VPN to download a movie illegally might assume they’re safe, but the makers of a Hollywood blockbuster have filed a lawsuit against 17 individuals for doing just that. Many of the defendants used VPN service Private Internet Access (PIA), and while it doesn’t keep logs, third-party subpoenas could be used to uncover the alleged pirates’ identities.

TorrentFreak reports that the case was brought by Fallen Productions, the company behind 2019’s Gerard Butler-staring Angel Has Fallen. The lawsuit, filed at a federal court in Colorado, lists 14 unidentified defendants who allegedly used PIA to download the action title.

While the identity of the accused is unknown, the case uses information from the YTS pirate site’s database, which was shared earlier this year as part of a settlement in another copyright infringement case.

Fallen Productions’ attorney has requested subpoenas to gain more information about the defendants from ISPs, email providers, and Private Internet Access. PIA, however, does not keep logs—something that has been repeatedly confirmed in courts. But attorney Kerry Culpepper, who is representing Fallen Productions, is still requesting a subpoena.

“It is relevant because it shows they tried to hide their activities. It shows consciousness of the illegal activities,” he told TorrentFreak

“Private Internet Access has not received a subpoena in regards to this case,” the VPN provider said. “Even if we do, our response will be the same as always: PIA does not log VPN user activity.”

While most of the defendants are not from the state of Colorado, where PIA is based, signing the terms of service meant they agreed to jurisdiction in Colorado no matter where they are located.

The complaint claims all the defendants received at least one DMCA notice, while fifteen were contacted repeatedly via email with cease and desist notices and settlement offers, but the warnings were ignored.

This isn’t the first instance of movie producers going after individuals accused of downloading titles illegally. In 2015, makers of the Dallas Buyers Club were granted the right to contact almost 5,000 iiNet ISP users in Australia to seek damages for copyright infringement. The order was put on hold as the court requested to see letters the alleged infringers would receive. As it was unclear how much money the company wanted people to pay, the court blocked it from accessing customers’ details. Lawyers decided not to appeal.

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SixTymes

Posts: 86   +55
If you use vpn software most likely you've been scammed. paying fir shite that uses Chinese and pakistani servers. no thanks.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,061   +2,619
And this is why

A) if you are really worried, you dont just use 1 VPN, and
B) you dont use a VPN based in a Five Eyes country. PIA was originally owned by a london media company and was later bought by Kape Technology, another london based company. England is one of the Five Eyes. That also reminds me
C) dont use a VPN from western europe either, or from a publicly traded company.
D) dont use a VPN from a fourteen eyes country either.
 

Polycount

Posts: 2,696   +566
Staff member
People use VPN software for all kinds of reasons, not just to illegally download movies. "It shows they tried to hide their activities?" BS.

In this case, they might be right, but sometimes it's just more convenient to have a VPN on 24/7.
 
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Kazkas

Posts: 18   +56
But what else trustworthy countries are left then?

And this is why

A) if you are really worried, you dont just use 1 VPN, and
B) you dont use a VPN based in a Five Eyes country. PIA was originally owned by a london media company and was later bought by Kape Technology, another london based company. England is one of the Five Eyes. That also reminds me
C) dont use a VPN from western europe either, or from a publicly traded company.
D) dont use a VPN from a fourteen eyes country either.
 

ThrakazogZ

Posts: 43   +58
It should be noted that YTS turned over the info of everyone who signed up for accounts with them, as part of a settlement deal with the movie studio. The info included the email people signed up with, and their ip address. The 14 unknown defendants are unknown because they were on a VPN. All the movie studio has is the aforementioned email and ip address. PIA won't have any info to give them. I'm also guessing the people smart enough to use the VPN probably also used a dummy email when they signed up at YTS. Those that did, will most likely stay unknown.
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 48   +16
Google image was sued to declare that the photos it’s shows are subject of copyright. So you can see the declaration under every image.

So why isn’t illegal to watch them and is illegal to watch a movie which is just pictures in a row? If it’s illegal to watch the photos then few billion people they are serial and repetitive criminals. And of course all the photos have to be removed from public view.
 
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Endymio

Posts: 1,082   +901
So why isn’t illegal to watch them and is illegal to watch a movie which is just pictures in a row?
It's a principle of copyright law known as fair use. As the link expresses, there are a number of factors to consider, including purpose of the viewing, the amount being viewed, and the effect on the copyrighted material's market. For instance, a teacher for educational purposes using a small clip of a copyrighted film is OK, whereas you downloading the entire film for entertainment is not.
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 48   +16
It's a principle of copyright law known as fair use. As the link expresses, there are a number of factors to consider, including purpose of the viewing, the amount being viewed, and the effect on the copyrighted material's market. For instance, a teacher for educational purposes using a small clip of a copyrighted film is OK, whereas you downloading the entire film for entertainment is not.
Fair use can decided only from a court.

But lets take an everyday example. Lets say a film director who is in search for reference images for a scene for his move, visits the ArtStation (its a website there are and other similar) and look to the photos (which are all copyrighted).
After hundreds of views he is coping to his computer the best photos which they are best suite in his needs and the other day he shows them to his team to begin the construction of the set. He doesn't pay anything to anyone.

Purpose? Commercial sales, amount of viewed? 100%. So is he legal or illegal ? Is the products of his work legal or illegal?
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,082   +901
Fair use can decided only from a court.
A fair use dispute can only be settled by a court, which is not quite the same thing.

But lets take an everyday example...(snip)...Purpose? Commercial sales, amount of viewed? 100%. So is he legal or illegal ? Is the products of his work legal or illegal?
First of all, copyright law does not forbid viewing, only copying, distributing, and adapting. In your example above, the "hundreds of photos" on this site are all (I assume) held by different copyright owners, for differing purposes. So let's hone in on one example: he copies a screenshot from a video game scene, and uses it as "inspiration" for his set. That clearly falls under fair use. If he builds an exact or near-exact copy of that imaginary scene, however, he's adapted a derivative product and, if he then uses that derivative for commercial gain, it would (almost) certainly fail the test -- even if he never copied the original image to his computer.

You can easily found countless examples of gray areas under fair use doctrine. However, downloading a film for your own viewing pleasure is not one of them, and there is countless case law precedent to back that up.
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 48   +16
A fair use dispute can only be settled by a court, which is not quite the same thing.

First of all, copyright law does not forbid viewing, only copying, distributing, and adapting. In your example above, the "hundreds of photos" on this site are all (I assume) held by different copyright owners, for differing purposes. So let's hone in on one example: he copies a screenshot from a video game scene, and uses it as "inspiration" for his set. That clearly falls under fair use. If he builds an exact or near-exact copy of that imaginary scene, however, he's adapted a derivative product and, if he then uses that derivative for commercial gain, it would (almost) certainly fail the test -- even if he never copied the original image to his computer.

You can easily found countless examples of gray areas under fair use doctrine. However, downloading a film for your own viewing pleasure is not one of them, and there is countless case law precedent to back that up.
So if the law doesn’t forbid the “viewing” the person who views the frames of a film is perfectly legal and the filmmaker who produce derivative work for commercial use from copyrighted reference frames without honor the copyright is illegal and so his derivative work.

So the roles are opposite, the film makers are illegal and the viewers are legal even without pay for the view.
They need to make the viewers sign a contract for have legal foot, but those viewers didn’t sign any contract and even if they had sign one, it would not be so valid because the product of the derivative work is illegal.

So the filmmakers they need to have and keep a list of the paids they have made for the reference images on which their scenes have based on, if they want sell their derivative works legally. I don’t think 99,9% of them they have such a list on hand...
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,082   +901
So the filmmakers they need to have and keep a list of the paids they have made for the reference images on which their scenes have based on, if they want sell their derivative works legally. I don’t think 99,9% of them they have such a list on hand...
No, they simply need to either first seek the permission of the copyright holder, or alternately ensure that their derivation meets either the fair use or the "transformative" test exclusions.
 
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Mr Majestyk

Posts: 503   +423
Switzerland, Sweden - especially the Swiss. Both tend to tell foreign prosecutors to go pound sand when they get any kind of legal motion for private information.
Sweden are you effing kidding, They are scum and bend over for Hollywood and USA all the time. It's also why they went after Assange years after he was already cleared of the rape allegations. Do not not trust Sweden!