Acting as plaintiffs, Disney Enterprises, several divisions of Universal, Dreamworks, Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, and Paramount Pictures, joined by Amazon, Apple and Netflix; filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Dwayne Anthony Johnson and 20 additional unidentified individuals that operate two infringing services: AllAccessTV and Quality Restreams. The defendants offer AllAccessTV and Quality Restreams through at least 20 Web sites.
[ Note added on March 28, 2023: This case was resolved and closed on March 27, 2023 with an award of $30 million to the plaintiffs. Read details here ]
The pirate operators sold movies and TV programs normally distributed over live TV and video on demand, through a network of resellers. The complaint was filed in California because the operators marketed their services in the state and recruited resellers based there.
AllAccessTV direct-to-consumer service
During the sign-up process, AllAccessTV diverts new consumers to a commerce site that is without AllAccessTV branding, which appears to be selling VPN services when it actually is selling illegal video subscriptions. Users receive their video log-in credentials verbally via a technical support line. Both of these tactics are allegedly designed to disguise the illegal nature of the operation.
The operation offers apps for smart TVs, computers, set-top boxes, mobile and tablet devices; both iOS and Android. These apps grant access to more than 2,500 TV channels, including the major TV networks, plus paid channels including A&E, MTV, BET, USA Network and premium channels like HBO and Cinemax.
In some cases, AllAccessTV run programs in a continual loops rather than as live television. In other examples, subscribers stream programs on demand.
Quality Restreams for resellers
The complaint alleges that Quality Restreams provides pirate ‘IPTV’ operators with access to certain IP addresses, and domain-based access, through which those operators stream live channels and VOD offerings. The complaint identifies four of these domains. One illicit reseller, CosmosTV, sourced content from a server based at an identified IP address which was also affiliated with several Web sites that the defendants used for direct-to-consumer services.
The illegal services were still available online at the time this article was written.
The complaint alleges that the defendants have more than 600 “sales agents” and more than 37,000 customers on their Facebook page. The reseller program is a multi-level marketing scheme that recruits its retail customers to become resellers themselves. To purchase an AllAccessTV subscriiption, a customer must contact a reseller. Once the consumer signs up, they are informed that they can become resellers themselves, and receive a $10 commission for every $25 subscription sale.
In addition to using customers to promote the services, the defendants use a private Facebook group called MediaBoxx Corporation, which is available exclusively to AllAccessTV resellers.
The reseller program is expanding internationally.
Why it matters
The defendants claim to be generating $3,000,000 in annual revenue. For direct copyright infringement, indirect copyright infringement, and for inducing copyright infringement, the plaintiffs are asking for statutory damages up to the maximum of $150,000 per infringed work, plus attorney fees and other costs. They also ask for a jury trial.
The plaintiffs contend that the illegal services compete directly with, and undermine, authorized pay TV and online streaming services, which interferes with the plaintiffs’ relationships with legitimate video services.
Plaintiff-affiliated and licensed subscription VOD services include Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, iTunes, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock and others; which have the rights to offer live and on-demand services – often exclusively – to paying subscribers.