Hollywood Piles On: MPAA Sues Megupload, Even Though They Already Got The Feds To Kill It

from the because-money dept

In news that will come as little surprise to just about anyone, the MPAA has announced that it is piling on and suing Megaupload and Kim Dotcom for copyright infringement, in an action separate from the criminal charges he currently faces. Two years ago, the MPAA had indicated it was likely to do this when it asked for some data to be retained for such a purpose. Also, a few months ago, the DOJ (secretly) got an order from the court (without letting Megaupload know) that allowed it to share information with the MPAA so that the MPAA could file its own civil suit against Megaupload.

So you had to know that a lawsuit was coming -- and it had to come soonish, given the three year statute of limitations on infringement claims. The MPAA's press statement simply parrots the DOJ's highly questionable assertions:
“When Megaupload.com was shut down in 2012 by U.S. law enforcement, it was by all estimates the largest and most active infringing website targeting creative content in the world,” said MPAA global general counsel Steven Fabrizio. “Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost U.S. copyright owners more than half a billion dollars.”
The MPAA is using its favorite law firm for these kinds of cases, Jenner & Block. Of course, there's a (pretty strong) argument that if the MPAA was so upset by Megaupload, it should have filed this lawsuit years ago, rather than convincing the DOJ to twist and turn things to pretend that it was a criminal issue. Megaupload has a pretty strong defense to a civil suit in pointing out how the DMCA works and the fact that the company complied with DMCA takedowns. But, now, with Megauploads' assets frozen, Kim Dotcom separately having to fight extradition charges and the criminal charges, it just makes it that much more difficult to also fight the civil case -- which is exactly how the MPAA likes it.

Really, this is perfect for the MPAA. There's no reason at all for this lawsuit. Megaupload is about as dead as can be -- and, in fact, much of the data has been deleted already thanks to the DOJ's actions. But at this late stage of the game, the MPAA can pile on, likely get some sort of court victory and will then crow about how it fights copyright infringement hard. And those lawyers at Jenner & Block will certainly be paid nicely.

Of course, what none of this will do is help the MPAA or the studios actually deliver more good content in a format people want. That's too much work.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    Yet another reason...

    Why I shall NEVER watch anything by the MPAA ever again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Half a billion dollars?

    I wonder how much of that was hypothetical money...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    MadAsASnake (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    Another thing it won't do is put a single cent in any artists pocket. You know, those folks the MPAA is supposed to represent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    So if Dotcom is fighting being sent to the US to face criminal charges, there's no way he's going to defend civil charges. That means a default judgment, or can he fight the civil case without coming to the US. Either way, it looks like he's toast.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    This isn't about killing off Megaupload. This is about keeping the money that the US government confiscated as part of the take down of Megaupload. The MPAA has dollar bills in it's eyes on this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    They better be careful touting how much money Megaupload made or else they'll be condemning the business model they should have adopted long ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Yet another reason...

    Why I shall NEVER PAY TO watch anything by the MPAA ever again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    If your intention is to deprive MPAA studios of revenue, Silverscarcat's position is the better one. With product placement and other ads that are integrated into the movies, you can bet your bottom dollar that they count pirates as viewers when they are setting the amount they charge for that kind of advertising, so you're still providing a revenue stream to them.

     

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  9.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re:

    Any lawyers want to chime in what happens if (more than likely when) the MPAA gets a default win in this civil case to the money seized from Meguapload? Does US/NZ law allow for the MPAA to immediately claim the money with a good expectation of actually getting it, even though the criminal trial has yet to happen?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:25pm

    How can a civil case proceed in the US court if Dotcom is never extradited to the US? I guess the MPAA want to try this case in absence of Dotcom so they will win by default which is no surprise as if Dotcom was to give testimony no doubt the MPAA would lose the case.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    Re:

    Extradition does not apply to civil cases, and if Dotcom travels to the US to try to defend himself in person, he would end up in a US jail because of the criminal case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Re:

    I think, although I'm not sure, that Dotcom could have an attorney appear on his behalf. I don't think he has to be physically present. Perhaps one of our lawyerly readers can speak to this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 2:40pm

    Shame they waiting until after the other little shops tried to feed on the corpse, claiming insane losses to get themselves some "easy" money.

    Shame that half a billion put a real dent into the proceeds of their membership during that time. o_O

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Scott Yates (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    I wonder how they would KNOW you are watching them however. Without metrics, wouldn't you be a ghost?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Huh?, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Yet another reason...

    Hold on, buddy. That's going too far, don't you think?

    Just pirate the stuff. It's not like you would be supporting the people who deserve it. The MPAA surely doesn't. They're just lining their own pockets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    Maybe the NSA tells them

     

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  17.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Re:

    I would guess that with the accounts frozen due to the funds being 'part of the investigation', all that money would be untouchable no matter what the judgement was in the civil suit.

    However, given the whole thing has been a farce from the get-go, it wouldn't surprise me if, upon the default judgement should it go that route, the judge found that since the civil and criminal cases are 'linked', that the assets from one can be used to pay the fines of another.

    Alternatively, they could order Dotcom to pay the millions the *AA's are sure to demand, and should he refuse/be unable to, and the assets ever get unfrozen, order them to be seized to pay for the fines(with a hefty 'penalty' tacked on to make the sum even more).

     

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  18.  
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    gazzamac, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 4:35pm

    how about a week long, don't go to the movies for everyone type of protest at this rubbish, MPAA

     

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  19.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re:

    What I find confusing is that it's even possible to file a civil claim like this against someone who's a citizen in another country entirely, as you'd think civil claims would be same-country only.

     

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  20.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 4:41pm

    Re:

    Eh, they could weather through that without too much trouble, now, extend that to a month, and you'd get their attention.

    Alternatively, and more effectively, just do what several people here do, and never go to the movies, refusing to give money to people so determined to screw everyone over to 'protect' their control/profits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You would have thought that the civil lawsuit would have been filed in the country location of the company which is in Hong Kong or even filed in New Zealand the country where Dotcom (named in the civil lawsuit) is a resident of so that the company and Dotcom are aware of it and can then defend themselves against the civil lawsuit.

    Me thinks that the intention of filing the civil lawsuit in the US by the MPAA is so that the MPAA can get an easier victory with the fact the neither the company or Dotcom will be in the US to defend the civil lawsuit and therefore the MPAA will have more chance of an easy win through default.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    Nope, I refuse to watch anything from Hollywood.

    Complete and total boycott of EVERYTHING they make.

    Which kind of sucks, I wanted to watch Kick Ass 2, the new Star Wars movies and other things too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 5:34pm

    Re:

    I would have absolutely no effect in such a boycott. I haven't been to a movie in over a decade due to sue'em all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Zonker, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 5:38pm

    Re:

    Precisely. If Megaupload was so successful at making money then why haven't they (MPAA) tried providing the same service themselves? Seems like they (MPAA) aren't very good at running a legitimate commercial business to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    JMT (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    Or Kinect...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    JMT (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 5:42pm

    Re:

    Can't he be represented in court by his lawyers? Is there a need for him to be personally present?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    JMT (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 5:46pm

    Re:

    And before any of the usual studio shills jump in, the fact that MU didn't pay for the films to be made does not in any way preclude the studios from offering exactly the same service and potentially making the same income they claim MU made. Unless of course their claims are exaggerated or unfounded...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The copyrights infringed upon are US copyrights. No surprise on the jurisdictional question.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 7:33pm

    Re:

    I hear they keep all the actors in prison camps and fake all those pictures of them eating in nice restaurants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 8:19pm

    Re: Re:

    your talking about comity and as far as New Zealand courts are concerned at the moment a default judgement by some civil court in the USA would have no bearing on any monies from NZ assets that are not already seized. For monies to be seized to allow the payment of any judgement in a civil case (default or otherwise) in the USA at the moment in most countries is basically null in this present climate. NZ courts specifically have a very low regard at moment (have for decades actually) for any so called civil judgements coming out of the USA be they federal circuit based or state based

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 8:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually under Berne, which nearly all countries are a party too, the legally appropriate place to file this is in the jurisdiction where the alleged infringement occurred. In this case New Zealand.

    Just because they were USA works is irrelevant. Otherwise the case in Australia in regards to iiNet could of been filed in the USA with an absolutely totally outcome. Instead it HAD to be filed here in Australia for the simple fact being that then they can recover equitable damages if they win the case. Otherwise it's just for show and political purposes since a 'win' elsewhere means basically squat under current reciprocity situations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 8:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    absolutely totally *different outcome

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 9:17pm

    At least the MPAA stopped landing helicopters in Kim's front yard... for now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 10:49pm

    Re:

    "Fuck paying the artists, I gotta screw this Dorito-filled lardball out of every grubby little cent he has first! That mansion's not going to pay for itself!"

    And this is the sort of mindset we're supposed to respect in copyright enforcement. Disgusting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    TrIPS calls bullshit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 1:00am

    Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    "Just pirate the stuff. It's not like you would be supporting the people who deserve it"

    Erm, no. Pirating stuff instead of paying for it doesn't support the people who deserve it. Seeking out independent content from non-MPAA members and paying for it *does*, as does using other forms of entertainment not affiliated by them.

    Not that it probably matters, since they'll blame piracy whatever the reason for their revenue loss, but at least by supporting independent cinema you make sure some people get the money they deserve.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    David, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:28am

    Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    Hold on, buddy. That's going too far, don't you think?

    Just pirate the stuff.

    That's like breaking the stranglehold of distilleries on society by distilling window cleaner.

    That's actually increasing the revenues of distilleries by turning people into drunkards that could not otherwise afford it. So their aspirations are focused on being able to afford higher spirits.

    Just say no. Then not just your purse but also your brain will thank you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 5:15am

    perhaps it's more obvious now why the DoJ broke the law and removed the HDDs from NZ and took them to the USA. once there, they were given to the MPAA who have been scouring them to cherry pick what they want to make a case against Dotcom without him being able to defend himself because he has been stopped from having access to the same HDDs. this whole episode has been a complete fabrication. it was done with the cooperation of certain members of congress and the government, doing favours for ex members of congress. the whole aim is to keep all the money that they reckon has been generated by copyright infringement, ignoring the legal ways that the business was operated, and get Dotcom into prison, not for having done anything illegal but for having the nerve, the balls, the audacity and the funding to fight back, something that the DoJ, the MPAA and the RIAA didn't expect after seizing all the funds, something else they were not legally able to do but, as is usual with any security force from the USA thinks that laws are made for everyone else, not for them!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    They don't know. But they regularly estimate piracy rates, and likely use those estimates.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    AC Unknown (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re:

    I haven't gone to see a movie in years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Blue Sweater (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Yet another reason...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:52pm

    typo detected: Megupload

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Pragmatic, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If that's true, why did they change their minds about the legality of the raid on Dotcom's mansion and approve the extradition he's still fighting?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    Pragmatic, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ah... it's CIVIL, not criminal (officially). But couldn't they see it was a civil case in criminal clothin?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    Pragmatic, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hence TPP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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