Film88 Owner Fined $24 Million
from the seems-a-bit-extreme... dept
Two years ago, a site popped up in Taiwan called Movie88, that let people stream movies for $1. The site became somewhat popular, which, of course, forced the MPAA to step in. With a little help from friends in the US government, pressure was put in the right places and the Taiwanese hosting company pulled the site off the internet. It didn't take long for the site to reappear, this time as Film88, and claiming to be based in Iran, where US government pressure and laws were unlikely to be followed. The problem, though, is that the Iranian internet infrastructure wasn't quite up to the task, so the site was actually hosted in the Netherlands... where US pressure could be exerted, and the site was quickly shut down again. Soon after this, the movie industry sued the guy who ran both sites. It only took two years, but a California judge has found him guilty and ordered him to pay $23.8 million to the movie industry. Now, clearly, the guy was taking unauthorized files and streaming them online for profit. However, the punishment still seems a bit extreme. Streaming movies over the web is nothing like watching them in a theater or even on a DVD. It's unlikely that the industry actually lost very much money (let alone $24 million) from this guy. In fact, you could make the case that it may have helped increase revenue by convincing people that certain movies were worth buying on DVD or seeing in a theater. The popularity of the site showed that there was demand that the industry wasn't meeting. If the industry was smart, they would have looked for a way to offer something similar -- inexpensive, easy to use, movie streaming. Instead, they get their $24 million and millions of movie watchers don't get what they want.