YTS.mx is one one of the most-used torrent sites on the internet, 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 registering an account with a pirate site is not without risk. Early last year the operators of YTS signed a settlement agreement with several movies studios, which put many of the site’s users at risk.
YTS User Database
The settlement ensured that YTS could continue to operate. However, the operator agreed to share details from the YTS userbase, including IP-addresses, email addresses, and download histories. This provided the movie companies with evidence for follow-up lawsuits against these users.
The film companies, including the makers of “London Has Fallen”, “Rambo V”, and “Dallas Buyers Club”, didn’t stop there. Over the past months, they went after VPN providers and hosting companies as well.
These third-party services are directly or indirectly liable for piracy, the filmmakers argue, because their networks and infrastructure are used by people to pirate movies. And despite sending many copyright infringement notices, these services failed to take meaningful action in response.
Movie Companies Sue Datacamp
A few days ago the movie companies filed a new lawsuit at a federal court in Virginia, accusing UK-based company Datacamp Limited of copyright infringement. Datacamp operated under the CDN77 and DataPacket brands, and reportedly offers its services to several VPN providers.
The complaint lists ten unnamed VPN services and “Doe” defendants and the movie companies hope to find out their names through this lawsuit.
“DOE 1-10 promote their VPN service as a tool that can be used to pirate copyright protected content without getting caught,” the complaint reads, adding that the VPNs “partner with notorious movie piracy websites to promote their VPN service as an essential tool for movie piracy.”
Meanwhile, Datacamp is accused of contributory copyright infringement, as it failed to terminate the accounts of these VPN services after repeated warnings. These allegations are similar to the ones we have seen in cases against Leaseweb, Sharktech, and other hosting companies.
YTS Account with “Hacked’ Email
The YTS database also shows up as evidence again. And in this case, that leads to a noteworthy finding we haven’t seen before.
The movie companies previously sued Indiana resident Mr. Byranski after they found his email address in the YTS user database. The YTS database linked this user to an IP-address that’s registered to Datacamp, presumably through one of the company’s VPN customers.
Mr. Byranski, however, denied any wrongdoing and testified that he didn’t use a VPN service, nor did he download the pirated movies.
Apparently, Mr. Byranski’s email address was “hacked” around the same time and $12,000 was stolen from his PayPal account. This leads the movie studios to suggest that the hacker could have used the same email to sign up with YTS too.
“Some of these YTS users [use] the VPN service of DataCamp’s subscribers to unlawfully access ‘hack’ into the accounts of third parties, use their email addresses to register for an account with the YTS website and pirate movies, and unlawfully access bank accounts of the third parties,” the complaint reads.
No Hacking Skills Needed
In reality, there are no hacking skills required to use a third-party email address to sign up with YTS. Everyone can use a random email to register an account, as the YTS website doesn’t require users to verify their addresses.
The movie companies eventually dismissed their copyright infringement claims against Mr. Byranski, but not before securing a formal declaration that puts pressure on Datacamp.
Similar to the film companies, Mr. Byranski stated that it would have been better if Datacamp had taken action after receiving multiple copyright infringement notices.
“I wish Datacamp Limited had taken action against the subscriber at this IP address in response to those notices so that possibly the damages I have suffered from this hacking, including being accused of copyright infringement could have been prevented,” the declaration reads.
Mr. Byranski received a full refund from Paypal and the copyright infringement claims were dropped as well. Instead, the filmmakers now use his declaration as ammunition in the Datacamp lawsuit.
Damages, Blocking, and More
Datacamp has yet to respond to the allegations. The company stands accused of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, among other things, and faces over a million dollars in potential damages.
Similar to the other lawsuits against VPN services and hosting providers, the film companies also ask for far-reaching measures in the form of an injunction.
Among other things, they ask the court to issue an order requiring the hosting company to block ports 6881-6889, which are commonly used for BitTorrent traffic. In addition, the company should block its customers from accessing pirate sites such as YTS, The Pirate Bay, Rarbg, and 1337x.
A copy of the complaint the film companies filed against Datacamp Limited at the Eastern District of Virginia is available here (pdf).
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.