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First off today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that Malibu Media, a porn studio that has become notorious for filing lawsuits against suspected file sharers, received a judgment against defendant Don Bui, saying that he was liable for copyright infringement for downloading some 57 films owned by the studio.
Bui’s lawyer attempted to portray him as a person who didn’t understand how BitTorrent works, claiming he thought he had “ordered” the movies. Bui was likened to a man who went to a CD store but unwittingly bought a pirated CD. Bui also tried to shift blame to the BitTorrent site, KickAss Torrents, and on his own poor English skills.
The judge, however, rejected those arguments and handed Malibu Media a complete victory. The judge noted that copyright is a strict liability issue and that Bui had created new copies, not purchased existing ones. The judge also referenced the Aereo ruling when comparing BitTorrent to Grokster, saying that it was not important to look at how BitTorrent works, only the outcome. Damages were not determined in the ruling and, on the 57 works, range from $42,750 to $1.7 million.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter reports that Fox has settled a lawsuit over the Chipmunk’s “Squeakquel” movie, one that pitted it against Bagdasarian Productions, the company that originally licensed them the Chipmunk characters.
Bagdasarian sued Fox over a variety of copyright violations and for copyright infringement over allegations that Fox used screenplay contributions from Bagdasarian without authorization. However, the courts first ruled that, as per the contract, the case had to be sent to a referee and not a jury, with the referee ruling against Bagdasarian in almost all areas.
Still, an implied contract claim by Bagdasarian remained open over the alleged screenplay contributions. Fox also countersued for some $2 million in legal fees, claiming that Bagdasarian filed the suit in bad faith to renegotiate the deal. However, on June 14, the referee issued a decision that resolved the remaining issues and Fox withdrew its motion for attorneys fees. Now that both sides have agreed to the referee’s ruling, the case is over.
Finally today, Peter Kafka at Recode reports that newly-public filings Aereo made with the U.S. Copyright Office tell us how many users the service had in 2013, namely 77,596.
Aereo was a TV streaming service that used a series of tiny antennas, one per customer, to capture over-the-air broadcast television and record/stream it to users over the Internet. The Supreme Court recently ruled against the company, stating that it’s retransmitting of broadcaster signals amounted to a copyright infringement.
Aereo attempted to bounce back from that ruling by applying to be a cable company with the U.S. Copyright Office so it would qualify for a statutory license under the law. The Copyright Office denied that request, though it is leaving it open pending court decisions. However, as part of Aereo’s filings it had to reveal how many subscribers it had, and the amount fell well short of most analysts’ expectations. The company had about 27,000 subscribers in New York City, it’s flagship operation, and between 10-12,000 in Boston, Atlanta and other cities.
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