Several movie companies have filed a new lawsuit targeting three users of the popular torrent site YTS. The alleged pirates were identified based on data that was previously provided by the site’s operator. The three were initially approached for an out-of-court settlement but, according to the rightsholders, they failed to respond.
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)
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.