ABS-CBN wins landmark legal victory against pirate sites

ABS CBN wins landmark legal victory against pirate sites 1


A US federal court judge has signed a default judgment awarding ABS-CBN the advertising revenues illegally earned by 32 sites that pirated its content, as well as ownership of the domain names of the sites – a landmark legal victory in the media and entertainment company’s anti-piracy efforts in the US.


ABS-CBN is the first copyright holder to have been granted advertising revenues from pirate sites through the advertising networks such as Google Adsense and MGID, according to Torrent Freak, a major publication dedicated to bringing the latest news about copyright, privacy, and everything related to filesharing.


The default judgment, signed by US District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga, also awards ABS-CBN over a million dollars in statutory trademark infringement damages and orders several of the pirate sites to pay ABS-CBN copyright infringement damages.


It also requires associated registrars and registries to hand over the domain names to ABS-CBN. “So far, several domains have been seized already, but some foreign companies have not complied, most likely because they fall outside the US jurisdiction,” wrote Torrent Freak founder and editor-in-chief Ernesto Van Der Sar.


The article also noted that “the most interesting part of the order, however, is that Judge Altonaga grants ABS-CBN the previously seized advertising revenues.


“The sites in question used advertising services from a variety of well-known networks, including Google Adsense, MGID, Popads, AdsKeeper, and Bidvertiser. None of these companies responded in court after the initial seizure order, suggesting that they did not object.”


Van Der Sar concluded, “This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a copyright holder has been granted advertising revenue from pirate sites in this manner.”


“This could be a common legal tactic going forward because, generally speaking, it is very hard to get money from defaulting defendants who are relatively anonymous, or living in a foreign jurisdiction,” Van Der Sar added. “By going after the advertisers, copyright holders have a good chance of securing some money, at least.”


Van Der Sar also praised ABS-CBN, the country’s leading media and entertainment company, for the “massive impact” of its anti-piracy efforts in the US.


In the story, it was mentioned that ABS-CBN has “filed a series of lawsuits against pirate sites in the US… (and) has already won several cases with damages ranging from a few hundred thousand to millions of dollars. However, the associated injunctions in these cases are perhaps even more significant.”


“We previously covered how ABS-CBN managed to get court orders to seize domain names, without the defendants getting actively involved,” wrote Van Der Sar. “This is also the case in a recent lawsuit where a Florida federal court signed a broad injunction targeting more than two dozen sites that offered the company’s content. The websites, including abscbn-teleserye.com, dramascools.com,tvnijuan.org, pinoydailyshows.com and weeklywarning.org, may not be known to a broad audience but their domain names have all been suspended, linking to a takedown message instead.


“What’s most interesting, however, is that the advertising revenues of these sites were previously frozen. This was done to ensure that ABS-CBN would at least get some money if the defendants failed to respond, a strategy that seems to have paid off.


“After the targeted site owners failed to respond, ABS-CBN requested a default judgment with damages for trademark and copyright infringement.”


ABS-CBN intensified and advanced its anti-piracy efforts in the last three years under former ABS-CBN Global COO Raffy Lopez (now retired and continuing as executive adviser to the president and CEO of ABS-CBN) with the hiring of ABS-CBN’s AVP & head of Global Anti-Piracy Elisha Lawrence.