A coalition of Hollywood studios and streaming companies announced on Tuesday that they have shut down Vader Streams, which was once a popular source of pirated TV content.
The service went offline in early May under mysterious circumstances, leading to speculation that the operator had either absconded or been forced out of business. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment — the five major studios plus Netflix and Amazon — disclosed that it had shuttered Vader and seized its assets through a sealed court proceeding in Canada.
The organization has undertaken similar actions in the U.S. against several other pirate providers that use open-source Kodi software, such as Dragon Box and Tickbox. Such providers sell hardware devices that can be loaded with Kodi “add-ons,” which offer a sweeping array of premium movies, TV shows, and live TV programming at heavily discounted prices, all without consent from copyright holders.
After such services are shut down, others quickly come along to take their place, so the studios have recently turned their attention to the wholesalers that provide the pirated streams to the customer-facing providers. In February, ACE sued Omniverse, which provided streams to services like HD Homerun and SkyStream TV.
The organization alleges that Vader Streams provided a library of 2,400 movies, 350 TV shows, and 1,300 TV channels to more than 200 illicit TV providers. In total, ACE estimates that Vader supplied pirated content to some 8 million subscribers, mostly in the U.S. and Canada.
Earlier this year, the studios obtained a secret “Anton Piller order” from a federal court in Ottawa. The order allows a plaintiff to conduct a search and seizure against a defendant. The Ottawa court issued a permanent injunction on Monday — the first public filing in the case — which confirms a settlement between Vader Streams and the studios.
Under the terms, the anonymous operator of Vader Streams will be on the hook for a $10 million judgment. Vader’s assets, including its websites, will be turned over to the studios.
Robert Malcolmson, the senior vice president of regulatory affairs and government relations at Bell Canada, issued a statement praising the action.
“This strong and appropriate action by the Federal Court is a clear demonstration that the Canadian legal system is prepared to take the necessary steps to combat content theft,” he said. “Illegal streaming services like Vader Streams cause serious harm to creators and distributors, the entire broadcasting and cultural sectors and ultimately Canadian consumers.”