Ridiculously Broad Ruling Against DVD Ripper Software Has Court Allow Seizure Of Domains, Social Media & More

from the how-is-that-proper-under-the-law? dept

Who needs SOPA when US judges seem willing to pretend the law already lets them do what SOPA would have created? AACS, the licensing organization that handles the basic encryption used on DVDs, sued one of many DVD ripping software companies, DVDFab (which is based in China). DVD ripping is a somewhat contentious topic. While it’s generally accepted (even by the recording industry) that ripping music CDs is legitimate, for whatever reason, Hollywood has fought exceptionally hard against the idea that movies should ever be rippable. With DVD software, they make it “illegal” by placing (weak) DRM on the DVDs, and then claim that any attempt to get around that violates the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA, 17 USC 1201.

AACS sought a preliminary injunction against DVDFab, who chose not to respond to the lawsuit (understandable, seeing as it’s based halfway around the world). Of course, rather than just granting a basic preliminary injunction, federal judge Vernon Broderick appears to have issued an order that is basically Hollywood’s dream: ordering the seizure of basically everything in an attempt to wipe DVDFab off the internet entirely. It orders the company to stop using its website, domain names and social media. Then, it goes way beyond that, using “this Court’s inherent equitable power” to order domain registries to disable the company’s URLs and make them “transferable” on the orders of the court — basically ordering the companies to seize the domain names. Then, it also orders all companies who have anything to do with DVDFab to stop doing business with the company. This includes social networking companies, service providers, advertising firms, payment processors and more:

Any third party service providers providing services to Defendants in connection with any of the DVDFab Domain Names, the DVDFab Websites or the DVDFab Social Media Accounts, and who receive actual notice of this Order, including without limitation, web hosting providers, social media or other online service providers (including without limitation, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+), back-end service providers, web designers, distributors, search-based online advertising services (such as through paid inclusion, paid search results, sponsored search results, sponsored links, and Internet keyword advertising), and any banks, savings and loan associations, merchant account providers, payment processors and providers, credit card associations, or other financial institutions which receive or process payments or hold assets on Defendants’ behalf (including without limitation, Avangate Inc., Avangate B.V., PayPal, Western Union, PayEase, IPS Ltd., Realypay, WorldPay, Opus Payments, Amazon Payments, WorldPay, Money Gram International, WebMoney, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, Visa Electron, Maestro, Solo, Laser, and Carte Bleue) for any Defendant or any of the DVDFab Domain Names or the DVDFab Websites, and who receive actual notice of this Order, shall, within three (3) days of receipt of this Order, cease or disable providing such services to: a) Defendants in relation to the DVDFab Software and/or any other products or services that circumvent the AACS Technology; andb) any and all of the DVDFab Domain Names, the DVDFab Websites or DVDFab Social Media Accounts.

This goes way, way, way beyond the normal remedies put forth under copyright law. In fact, it was these kinds of solutions which SOPA was designed to add to copyright law. I can understand how a judge only hearing one side of a case goes with the “default” judgment and just gives the single party everything they ask for, but at some point doesn’t common sense have to come in, and have people point out that this kind of remedy, seeking to wipe an entire company completely off the face of the internet for daring to do something that’s basically legal in similar realms (i.e., with music), seems immensely worrisome.

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Companies: aacs, dvdfab

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Comments on “Ridiculously Broad Ruling Against DVD Ripper Software Has Court Allow Seizure Of Domains, Social Media & More”

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79 Comments
ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Guess that will mean no more updates for DVDFab, wink wink, nudge nudge.

Kinda like when they originally sold their software online and had the software that breaks DVD copy-protection on dvdfab.net and the software that doesn’t on dvdfab.com (for those non-freedom-loving countries, or at least those countries that like to treat intellectual property is property for producers, but not for consumers.) Everyone I knew, even those in the US, downloaded the software from dvdfab.net even though the DMCA made it illegal to distribute.

I suspect dvdfab.cn will work just as well as dvdfab.com/.net.

Jack says:

Re: Re: Re:

It won’t have to – dvdfab.com and dvdfab.net are both registered through HICHINA ZHICHENG TECHNOLOGY LTD. which is a Chinese Registrar with no presence in the US. This ruling is going to have absolutely no effect on them at all other than not being able to use US CC processors, which isn’t going to matter much to them since China has their own.

DVD Fab can basically tell the NY court to fuck off and there is nothing they can do. That whole sovereignty thing and all. While I know it doesn’t matter much to the US, I don’t think we will be going to war with China at Hollywood’s request.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Order

> seeking to wipe an entire company completely
> off the face of the internet for daring to
> do something that’s basically legal in similar
> realms

More like seeking to wipe an entire company off the internet for daring to follow the laws of its own country instead of the laws of a country on the other side of the planet; laws which it is actually under no legal obligation to follow– no matter what this self-important federal judge thinks.

A Chinese company, based in China, with no presence in the United States does not suddenly become subject to U.S. law and forbidden to do things that are allowed under Chinese laws merely because it puts a website up on the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Order

In theory an alternative system for mapping names to IP addresses could be set-up, but requires software support from Microsoft and Apple, along with the ISP’s. The latter rely on providing the DNS to their customers as it allows them to redirect when they want to throttle bandwidth, and in implementing government filters.
I was going to remind people that the hosts file can be ujsed to map a name to an IP address, but I read somewhere that Microsoft now prevent it being changed on Windows systems.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Order

What if the situation was reversed? What if this was an American company doing business in America and following the laws of America? Could the Chinese government allow someone to sue the company in China and then seize the domain and issue these kinds of sanctions? If the Chinese government can’t do it, why does this New York judge think he can?

And if you want to be fair, suppose the American company in this situation was Microsoft or Google. Could the Chinese government order google.com, gmail.com, and youtube.com all taken down until Google complied with the government’s orders?

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Order

Absolutely and based on the above court order, the Chinese court could use it’s own “inherent equitable power” to then seize any and all assets of those organisations within China or any other company that does business with them ie: Apple

Now that’ I’d LOVE to see.

This is the old situation where Federal USA judges who are elected (WTF is with that dumb move) who basically even with default judgements are going ultra vires on their actual ability and instead are thinking themselves above any laws by any jurisdiction whatsoever.. in other words FUCK comity.. we are the USA obey us or we’ll destroy you.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Order

Another group that are NOT subject to this idiot of a US-centric Federal judge’s orders are anyone outside of the USA who is part of the inclusive list (that is basically ANYONE on the planet) of the order to cease and desist from any and all business with DVDFab.

I might now just for the Lulz offer my services to DVDFab and send this idiotic federal US court a statement stating they either prosecute me for something and suffer the amazing amount of crap that would come their way (yes that is a threat) or STFU and remove the ambiguous and totally specious order that has just allowed the USA to dictate business contracts anywhere on the planet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Glad you brought that up; slimy weasel Mike Masnick is so ashamed of how he censors comments here that he blanks out said comments to all IPs except that of the original poster; hoping they never notice they were censored.

You’re quite the piece of work, aren’t you Masnick?

Logic Lover says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I’d quote your entire “slimy weasel” comment just to prove you wrong, but that was probably what you were aiming for so I won’t do it. Boo hoo for you. What I will quote, however, is this awesome post by G Thompson:

“You seem to have confused obscurity with censoring.. though then again you also confuse coherent debate with whatever your yabbering of Blarggha Flargga bargha is.”

LMAO! ๐Ÿ™‚

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s hilarious that Mike Masnick thought copyright infringement on the web was just going to be forever unpunished.

You really think that people who want to format-shift their legally purchased DVDs should be punished?

I mean seriously, who do think this ruling affects? It’s not the hard-core uploader – they would use free, open-source alternatives. It’s not the average pirate – since they would download an already de-DRMed digital file, not a DVD. The only people really affected by this is your average computer user who wants to copy their latest DVD purchase to their hard drive for convenience.

Anonymous Coward says:

…financial institutions which… hold assets on Defendants’ behalf… shall, within three (3) days of receipt of this Order, cease or disable providing such services to: a) Defendants…

Wait. The financial institutions are prohibited from even holding the money? Normally in a situation like this they’re ordered to hold on to the money, not ordered to get rid of it. How on earth are they going to collect any money if the banks are, essentially, ordered to give the money back to DVDFab?

Was this a screw-up on the part of the judge, or is there some legal reason it’s worded like that?

scotts13 (profile) says:

March toward irrelevancy

Ever wonder why the USA, collectively, is so concerned about intellectual property? because basically, we don’t produce physical good anymore – imaginary stuff is all we have. Same reason we’re trying to get out IP right enshrined in international treaties, instead of US law. If we don’t do so NOW, we’ll become irrelevant in a few years, as they rest of the world so stuff like this and begins to just ignore us.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: March toward irrelevancy

“because basically, we don’t produce physical good anymore”

Not true. We actually produce as much (more by some estimations) as we ever have. It’s what we make that’s changed. We don’t make consumer goods so much anymore. Now we make really huge-ticket items instead — manufacturing tools, industrial robots, supercomputers, that sort of thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘at some point doesn’t common sense have to come in, and have people point out that this kind of remedy, seeking to wipe an entire company completely off the face of the internet for daring to do something that’s basically legal in similar realms (i.e., with music), seems immensely worrisome’

although this is extremely worrisome, i wonder what the USA would have said if the situation were reversed and one of the American companies had been totally closed down, had all assets seized and been banned from operating, just because an industry in the respective company had asked for that result? i would suggest the USA would have gone absolutely ape shit!
what is, perhaps, even more worrisome is how much did the industries back hand to get this result?

4pcwhisperer (profile) says:

Easy solution to out-of-control Blu-ray restrictions

Blu-ray is now the industry’s voice and clearly the iron fist blocking user freedom to enjoy personal-use reformatting. We all have stories about wanting to use our paid-for Blu-ray discs on a more convenient media player (example an Android tablet or phone in my case).

The industry wants me to pay for the Blu-ray disc, pay again to watch on my tablet and again to watch on my phone and if I want to watch again a Month later, pay them another time.

Clearly the industry is out of control. The most powerful tool we have is our purchasing power. If we all picked a week and simply refused to buy any Blu-ray product the industry would feel that impact.

If we all refused to buy any Blu-ray product the first week of every Month until the industry loosened the personal-use reformatting legal constraints, it would not take long for things to change,

We have the power to fix this, We just don’t know it. Personally as long as DVDs are still being sold I am avoiding the Blu-ray discs just for that reason. I can easily make reformatted MP4s that work on Android tablets and the quality is perfectly acceptable.

Anonymous Coward says:

You're all missing the point of the seizure

The point is, DVDFab has a built-in call home feature to check for updates. If you wanted to generate a large list of IPs to list in a subpoena for suspected copyright violations, what better place to get it than by seizing the domain and start recording who hits it?

Branfon Rinebold (profile) says:

Re: You're all missing the point of the seizure

DNS doesn’t work that way. Your home router or computer never sends a single DNS query to the actual domain you’re looking up (unless you’re running something like BIND or a Windows Server DNS server). All DNS queries come from DNS servers, not clients, and they cache the results so you only see them at most once per TTL period.

You can only tell whose DNS SERVER is requesting a domain. So you could definitively determine that TWC and Comcast are major copyright infringers via this method. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you were thinking of redirecting that update server to a server that logs connection attempts, even this judge wasn’t crazy enough to reassign the registration to the plaintiffs. They only killed it via this order so their registrar had to remove the destination.

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