Film studios sue “no logs” VPN provider for $10 million

Enlarge / Your at-home leisure studio.

Dozens of film manufacturing firms sued LiquidVPN this yr over the VPN supplier’s advertising and marketing efforts that might be perceived as selling piracy. These firms, which at the moment are looking for $10 million in damages, declare that the “no log” coverage of LiquidVPN is just not a legitimate excuse, because the VPN supplier actively selected to not hold logs.

And since LiquidVPN’s legal professionals failed to point out up in courtroom, the plaintiffs are pushing a movement for a default judgment to be granted.

Fiery advertising and marketing that backfired

At what level does a netizen’s proper to privateness and anonymity stop is the crux of the lawsuit introduced forth towards LiquidVPN. LiquidVPN is a no-log VPN supplier that, over the course of its enterprise actions, has been noticed to… nearly encourage on-line piracy.

Many Web customers who depend on applied sciences like logless VPNs and Tor might achieve this to stay untraceable, for causes starting from safeguarding their privateness to defending somebody to looking the darkish internet to collaborating in actions deemed questionable, legally or ethically. As such, very similar to Web suppliers (ISPs), VPN firms are seen as “impartial” service brokers and will profit from the “safe harbor” provisions of a US copyright legislation known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. On-line service suppliers can declare “secure harbor” protections beneath DMCA supplied that they well timed block entry to the infringing supplies reported to them by copyright holders.

However LiquidVPN’s enterprise mannequin was a fierce one, thriving on the fence of the legislation. In webpages seen by Ars, the VPN firm boasted itself as “one of the best VPN for torrenting” that will additionally allow you to “unblock ISP banned streams,” in any other case restricted on account of copyright takedown requests.

LiquidVPN's "Popcorn Time VPN," among other controversial marketing slogans.
Enlarge / LiquidVPN’s “Popcorn Time VPN,” amongst different controversial advertising and marketing slogans.

Moreover, LiquidVPN prospects had been actually in for a deal with with “Excessive High quality Popcorn Time Streams” thrown into the combo. And, after all, this was all a “DMCA Free Zone,” since, very similar to any logless VPN supplier, Liquid didn’t have the flexibility to ahead DMCA notices to customers downloading infringing content material. Besides, Liquid listed all of those options on its web site explicitly and glamorized all the prospects:

LiquidVPN website pages showing copyrighted images of movie titles.
Enlarge / LiquidVPN web site pages displaying copyrighted pictures of film titles.

And picture doing all this stuff seven days of the week with out the danger of getting caught by your ISP or anybody else, reassured the VPN supplier with a “full-refund” assure.

Transparency could be a good factor when presenting your product, besides when your advertising and marketing claims surpass the authorized grey space.

LiquidVPN disappears, in courtroom and on-line

Unsurprisingly, in March this yr, a number of filmmakers filed a lawsuit with the Florida District Courtroom towards LiquidVPN. This month, these plaintiffs are asking the courtroom to concern a default judgment towards LiquidVPN for the defendant’s failure to plead or present up at the latest courtroom listening to.

Based on courtroom documents, film manufacturing companies argue LiquidVPN shouldn’t be prolonged “secure harbor” protections, because the defendant did not set up a repeat-infringer coverage or appoint a registered DMCA agent. The ask for $9,900,000 includes the utmost statutory harm quantity of $150,000 for every of the 66 works listed within the grievance. Moreover, $1,650,000 has been sought towards LiquidVPN for “secondary legal responsibility as to DMCA violations.”

TorrentFreak first reported on the event and notes that “Popcorn Time” is a trademark of one of many plaintiffs: Hawaii-based 42 Ventures LLC, which is owned and operated by mental property lawyer Kerry Culpepper. So, that intertwines trademark issues with a copyright lawsuit.

The asks do not cease there, nevertheless. The checklist of calls for extends for LiquidVPN to completely droop accounts of repeat infringers, dismissing their “no log” coverage. However the face of the LiquidVPN web site is already nowhere to be seen. For weeks, the homepage has been unreachable, though the client area stays accessible.

LiquidVPN website throwing timeout errors for days.
Enlarge / LiquidVPN web site throwing timeout errors for days.

Beforehand, the plaintiffs had sued the Californian internet hosting supplier Quadranet for leasing their servers to LiquidVPN. Predictably, Quadranet requested that the courtroom dismiss the lawsuit primarily based on frivolous claims. The internet hosting supplier believes plaintiffs had sued them “for tactical leverage solely – not as a result of Quadranet instantly infringed Plaintiffs’ rights, allegations.”

Incidents like these may set fascinating future precedents for in any other case “impartial” suppliers of on-line providers. Practically all the options marketed by LiquidVPN signify actions that, from a technical standpoint, might be carried out by customers of nearly any VPN product. And any privacy-cautious individual would go for a “no log” VPN supplier over one which retains visitors logs. In such circumstances, the place does the legal responsibility finish for suppliers? For the in any other case benign VPN suppliers who intend to supply providers in good religion and a good method, may they nonetheless be slapped with DMCA notices and brought to courtroom? And extra importantly, what does it imply for sincere customers?

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