The US District Court of the Central District of California received a request from Netflix, Universal, Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Disney and units of Netflix and Universal, who are supported by the Motion Picture Association, for a partial default judgment against Primewire, a major infringing site. It also seeks permanent injunction to restrain PrimeWire from any form of distribution, from enabling others to do so, and to take their infringing domains out of service and transfer them to the plaintiffs.
In addition, the studios filed to conduct further discovery about the profits made by the Primeware venture, including revenue from ad networks; in advance of a March 2022 hearing on the matter. This limited discovery would help the court determine penalties.
The filing notes that, according to SimilarWeb, there were nearly 40 million visits to the PrimeWire Websites during December 2021 alone. The largest share of demand from PrimeWire sites – between 40% and 47%, depending on which PrimeWire site – comes from the United States. Demand from Canada ranges from 18% to 22%.
Primewire has been unresponsive
Primewire has not responded to a complaint filed in December 2021, to a January 2022 preliminary injunction meant to stop infringing distribution and to stop them from transferring their domains, nor has Primewire responded to attempts at direct contact made by the plaintiffs.
The filing alleges that Primewire’s silence was not accidental, but rather, “… (the) Defendants have doubled down on their infringing conduct. Defendants continue to prominently feature Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works, and two of the three PrimeWire Websites are still active…
Evading shutdown and warning users
“More troubling still,” continued the court filing, “Defendants have taken steps to evade the Court’s PI Order. The same day Plaintiffs served Defendants with the PI order, Plaintiffs discovered Defendants switched to a domain name registrar that is known for tolerating piracy. And Defendants launched a new redirect website, PrimeWireStatus.org, to inform users of future domain locations of PrimeWire in anticipation that the existing PrimeWire Websites may go offline.”
Visitors to Primewire sites are notified of PrimeWireStatus
PrimeWireStatus itself provides assurances that consumers will continue to have access
The plaintiff studios rationalize that this situation entitles them to permanent injunctive relief based on precedent set by other cases by the studios, and by other plaintiffs outside of the media and entertainment sector.
The case is 2:21-cv-09317. The Motion document is accompanied by a wealth of exhibits provided by the Motion Picture Association
Why it matters
Despite previous requests to end operations and subsequent evasive measures taken by PrimeWire, the Global Content Protection (“GCP”) Enforcement and Operation of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) has found that Primewire continues to cannibalize demand for valuable content through legitimate distribution channels.
Just as disturbing is the fact that the PrimeWire sites has captured ad revenue across multiple advertising networks, including Amazon and Google.
A recent study published by Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), using measurement data from White Bullet Solutions during the period from June 2020 through May 2021, found that revenue to pirates from stolen advertising placed on pirate streaming apps and Web sites. 73% of this stolen advertising went through Amazon (found on 41% of all piracy apps studied), Facebook (27%) and Google (5%).