Disney, Major Studios Get $30M From Illegal Streaming Sites Amid Piracy Crackdown

A coalition of top movie and TV studios have secured a $30 million judgment against the operator of two illegal streaming sites.

The studios and defendant Dwayne Johnson (no relation to the actor) agreed to resolve the suit in a deal that includes an injunction barring him from continuing to operate any service that allows users to pirate movies, according to court documents filed on March 27.

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Universal, Disney and Netflix sued Johnson in Dec. 2021 for copyright infringement. Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount and Apple, among others, also joined in the suit.

The extent of the piracy was “massive,” according to the complaint. Johnson operated two services, AllAccessTV (AATV) and Quality Restreams, that sold subscriptions to copyrighted movies and TV shows — including the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park movies as well as The Office — through thousands of live channels and video-on-demand offerings. The live channel feed allowed users to access major networks like HBO, Cinemax and NBC. Consumers could download the platforms on their devices.

The settlement comes as studios and production companies are increasingly taking entities to court for copyright violations stemming from the illegal streaming of content. In September, a trio of lawsuits from Voltage Pictures and other copyright owners against internet service providers for refusing to expel customers who repeatedly pirated their movies settled. Copyright law is the weapon of choice for intellectual property owners who are increasingly asserting their ownership rights to combat illegal streaming.

Subscription plans included VOD access for an additional $15 per month on top of the monthly $25 base plan. It organized content into numerous categories, including the streaming services on which the movie and TV shows aired.

The suit claimed that Johnson knew his conduct was illegal. It pointed to “concerted efforts to conceal the unlawful enterprise” by using a site that purports to sell VPN software but actually sells subscriptions to his services. If copyright infringement is willful, the owner is entitled to statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work.

Johnson allegedly generated $3 million in annual revenue from AATV, according to the complaint.

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