Movie studios sue “no logs” VPN supplier for $10 million

Enlarge / Your at-home leisure studio.

Dozens of film manufacturing corporations sued LiquidVPN this 12 months over the VPN supplier’s advertising and marketing efforts that could possibly be perceived as selling piracy. These corporations, which are actually in search of $10 million in damages, declare that the “no log” coverage of LiquidVPN shouldn’t be a legitimate excuse, because the VPN supplier actively selected to not hold logs.

And since LiquidVPN’s attorneys 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 could accomplish that to stay untraceable, for causes starting from safeguarding their privateness to defending somebody to searching the darkish internet to collaborating in actions deemed questionable, legally or ethically. As such, very similar to Web suppliers (ISPs), VPN corporations are seen as “impartial” service brokers and will profit from the “safe harbor” provisions of a US copyright regulation referred to as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. On-line service suppliers can declare “secure harbor” protections underneath 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 regulation. 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 attributable to 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 have been actually in for a deal with with “Excessive High quality Popcorn Time Streams” thrown into the combo. And, in fact, 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 the entire prospects:

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

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

Transparency is usually 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 12 months, a number of filmmakers filed a lawsuit with the Florida District Courtroom towards LiquidVPN. This month, these plaintiffs are asking the courtroom to subject a default judgment towards LiquidVPN for the defendant’s failure to plead or present up at the newest courtroom listening to.

In keeping with 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 injury quantity of $150,000 for every of the 66 works listed within the criticism. 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 straight infringed Plaintiffs’ rights, allegations.”

Incidents like these may set fascinating future precedents for in any other case “impartial” suppliers of on-line companies. Practically the entire options marketed by LiquidVPN signify actions that, from a technical standpoint, could possibly be performed by customers of nearly any VPN product. And any privacy-cautious individual would go for a “no log” VPN supplier over one which retains site visitors logs. In such instances, the place does the legal responsibility finish for suppliers? For the in any other case benign VPN suppliers who intend to supply companies 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 trustworthy customers?

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