Film Studios Spar with PrimeWire Off the Record in Illegal Online Streaming Case

Movie studios, including Disney, Columbia Pictures, and Netflix, filed an update in a Copyright Act case against PrimeWire on Tuesday, notifying the court of recent, anonymous correspondence with the “PrimeWire Team.” In the five-page “notice of defaulting defendants’ response,” the plaintiffs said that the email explained certain changes purportedly made to PrimeWire’s websites, but argued that the extrajudicial communication merits little consideration.

The suit concerns the plaintiffs’ mass piracy allegations involving several PrimeWire-operated websites. According to the studios, users can illegally stream more than one hundred copyright-protected television programs and films on several domains. As previously reported, the plaintiffs assert that the defendants’ copyright violations earn them illicit advertising revenue while degrading the market for licensed distribution of original content.

In January, the court entered a preliminary injunction in plaintiffs’ favor, and currently, their motion for entry of default judgment is pending before Judge Mark C. Scarsi. On March 12, the plaintiffs reportedly altered their request for entry of default judgment based on changes to PrimeWires websites, including the launch of a new domain,

In this week’s update, the plaintiffs explained that they received an anonymous email regarding those changes.

Therein, PrimeWire said it moved to the new domain to comply with the preliminary injunction, removed links to the 138 works identified by the plaintiffs in an attachment to their complaint, and “limited link submissions on the new website to four services.” The correspondence further requested that the preliminary injunction exclude the domain, citing “no evidence” that any links to unauthorized streams of the plaintiffs’ works is or has been distributed over the domain.

The movie studios then apprised the court that they responded by both asking PrimeWire to identify its leaders and by rebutting statements made in the email, including that indeed offered some of the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works. The notification argued that the defendants are ducking requirements and “calculating that their communications will ultimately reach the Court through Plaintiffs’ counsel’s exercise of their duty of candor.”

The studios concluded that the anonymous correspondence does not impact the merits of their request for entry of default judgment, citing the defendants’ failure to appear in court, tactics to dodge discovery, and evasive conduct. The studios are represented by Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.