Disney, WB Claim Ad Firm Working With Pirate Sites Is Guilty Of Contributory Infringement

from the a-new-mole-to-wac dept

Apparently the folks in Hollywood are trying a slightly different tactic than directly wac'ing file sharing site/service moles, and are trying to go after other third parties. Disney and Warner Bros. have sued an ad firm called Triton Media for providing advertising services to a series of sites that the studios feel facilitate copyright infringement. Note the degrees of separation here. The sites in question do not host or transmit any copyrighted material. As the legal complaint notes:
Specifically, the Websites, have posted, organized, searched for, identified, collected and indexed links to infringing material that is available on third-party websites, otherwise provided access to infringing material, and/or hosted infringing material.
So, the websites themselves are already pretty far removed from the actual infringement. The files are hosted on other sites. They're shared by other people. These sites just allow users to post links. And... then on top of that the studios aren't even suing these sites, which are a few steps away from the actual infringement: they're suing this ad firm, which is another degree of separation away. Wow.

The complaint itself is pretty stunning too when you realize that it never actually shows what Triton did that would qualify as contributory infringement. It just focuses on these nine websites instead. Perhaps there's more to this lawsuit than is in the filing, but it seems like a huge reach. If advertising firms are liable for infringement that happens on a totally different website than the one they're working with because someone clicked a link... that seems like it could create massive liability for anyone offering services on any website.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    AdamR (profile), Aug 27th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    It's called job justification. If they ever run out of who to blame or sue they would be out of a job.

     

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      bishboria (profile), Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      Yeah, totally agree with this.

      It's highly unlikely that any of these cases will win. But at least the lawyers won't go hungry, and their kids won't run out of caviar this weekend at the beach house.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:18pm

    Is this...4th-party liability? A couple more degrees and Hollywood will be suing Kevin Bacon.

    Actually, that sounds like fun. Kevin Bacon stars in a movie that gets pirated, therefore sue Kevin Bacon for enabling piracy. It's just crazy enough to backfire catastrophically!

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    Precedent

    At this level of seperation from the infringement, wouldn't WB/Disney winning the case set a precedent that would allow someone to sue WB/Disney for actually making a movie that is used to facilitate copyright infringement?

     

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      JC, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 1:05pm

      Re: Precedent

      Actually, WB/Disney will be filing a suit against themselves tomorrow for contributory infringement.

      "After all," stated their lawyer, "without the direct assistance of WB/Disney it would be impossible for thieving pirates to infringe the copyrighted works of WB/Disney."

       

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    Bob, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    I would hate to be defending them

    How would you rule if the ad agency claimed that cigarettes were good for you? Would they be complicit?

    What about an ad agency that pushed illlegal items like crack cocaine? What about a place advertising hit men?

    At some point the ad agency becomes complicit and given that Pirate Bay uses piracy as a selling point, well, I think it be hard for them to say that they're just helping people finding Linux Distros.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

      Re: I would hate to be defending them

      what about an ad agency who created the ad for a company that advertised in a paper that reported on a crime.

      They must be guilty of contributing to the actual crime, right?

       

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        Freddy, Aug 28th, 2010 @ 8:35am

        Re: Re: I would hate to be defending them

        I think the ad agency should stand behind it's message, whatever it is. If it's saying that Torrents are great, well, it should be up front and accept the blame too.

         

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      abc gum, Aug 30th, 2010 @ 5:03pm

      Re: I would hate to be defending them

      1) What about [insert anything ridiculous]
      2) rinse
      3) repeat
      4) ???
      5) profit

       

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    BruceLD, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    Subject

    As ridiculous as it all is, the media corporations are hoping that the ad company will not show up to defend themselves, therefore the media corporations will win by default.

    This of course will set a precedence allowing them to win against every other ad company they go after.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Subject

      > This of course will set a precedent

      Forgive me, but do default judgments count as precedent for anything other than default judgments?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    Method in the madness

    There seem to be a method in this madness. By making anyone even remotely connected to these sites a target, they want to make these sites some sort of "untouchable", so nobody would help these sites or even get near these sites.

    Of course, we all know that the final effect of this strategy will not be what they expect...

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Aug 28th, 2010 @ 8:31pm

      Re: Method in the madness

      "Of course, we all know that the final effect of this strategy will not be what they expect..."

      Therein lies the rub ...

      Everyone in the entertainment industries is trying to blame everyone else for their problems. They dont blame stupid business decisions, or lack of business sense. They blame and sue everyone that doesnt agree with them. The problem with that strategy is you piss off everyone it tends to come back an haunt you.

       

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    Jay (profile), Aug 27th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Irony...

    What I've been informed about is the very fact that Disney advertised on those sites as well.

    So why aren't they going after themselves?

     

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    slander (profile), Aug 27th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    Let's say that the court does rule in WB/Disney's favor. Given the number of times that Disney's been sued in the past, why not hit them where it would hurt them the most?

    Let's say that someone (not me, of course--I would never consider such a thing...) got injured at Disneyland and decided, after consultation with legal counsel, decided to sue. Not Disney, mind you, but all the various corporate enterprises with which they do business.

    I'm sure that between all of the marketers, toy and merchandise manufacturers, stores that sell their products, movie theatres, etc., this person (who is not me) would rake in a lot of cash ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H receive a proper settlement for physical damages and emotional stress.

    And friends, somewhere in the Disney vaults enshrined in some little folder, will be a study in black and white of my lawsuit.

    And the only reason I'm telling you this now is 'cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into Disneyland, just walk in say "Mickey, I can get anything I want, by suing your business partners." And walk out.

    You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't let him in.

    And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
    they may think they're both faggots and they won't let either of them in.

    And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singing it and walking out? They may think it's an organization.

    And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singing it and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

     

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      Freddy, Aug 28th, 2010 @ 8:37am

      Re:

      You're right. In fact, the roller coaster manufacturer and other people in the supply chain will often get sued along with Disney when someone gets hurt on the roller coaster. Lawyers try to attach everyone at the beginning and drop them later as necessary. It's a cost of doing business for everyone. I think it's naive for an ad agency to think that they're not connected with their clients' business.

       

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    Bill, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    They should sue the banks for granting the owners of the websites a checking account too.

     

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    Karl (profile), Aug 27th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

    Triton Media

    I did some research on Triton Media, to find out exactly what they did that was supposed to "enable" infringement, or even support these sites.

    Well, it turns out Triton has a lot of irons in the fire. They make software to add "pre-roll" commercials to streaming videos, and "drop in" advertisements into streaming audio. They also have a commercial CMS for media sites.

    But they don't create advertisements, and are not an ad agency.

    They're not limited to digital, and here's where things get interesting. Triton also owns Dial Global, which (according to their web site) is "an independent, full-service radio network, offering formats, prep, programming, jingles & imaging as well as national advertising sales representation." They also (through TM Studios) provide music for jingles and such.

    In other words, they're a competitor to Warner and Disney. And I'm guessing that's the real reason they're being sued.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 5:10pm

    i think i need a crack pipe to follow hollywood logic

    seriously where do they get there dope?

     

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    fenris Ninja, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:16am

    irony in this...

    oh dear. i am a proud member of the ninja community, once a top mainsite as well, we are now fighting the good fight and defend our cause. i read this article on a lot of websites...
    and the content makes me angry again...and especially Disney looses every credibility for me, because, and now, please get this right and understand its ironic: Disney at one point in time had adds on our mainsite!!!
    what the .... is there really anybody out there who still believes in this lie of the big companies loosing money? i laugh about that, and it makes me angry. this is just another wrong pleaded cause by the so called new team of big companies to even get more money.

    by the way, our forum is still alive and its growing! Check it out http://www.ninjavideoforum.net and join the movement!

     

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