Warner Bros. Claims Agency ran its own pirate movie site * TorrentFreak

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When the so-called DVD screens of the latest movies leak onto pirate sites, studios are among the first to point out the damaging effects. Often the copies are of excellent quality, a gift to millions of file sharers around the world, but a potential headache for subsequent official distribution efforts.

While studios have long had the wherewithal to trace reviewers to their sources, relative to the number of leaks, it is relatively rare for industry insiders to face civil lawsuits. That changed yesterday when Warner Bros. Entertainment sued a talent agency Innovative artists.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in California, Warner accuses the agency of actually setting up its own pirate site, filled with rips of DVD filters that should have been kept safe.

“From the end of 2015, Innovative Artists set up and operated an illegal digital distribution platform that copied films, then distributed copies and broadcast public performances of those films to many people inside and outside. outside the agency “, we read in the complaint (pdf).

“Innovative Artists has stored on its platform copies of the applicant’s works, including copies that Innovative Artists made by ripping award selection DVDs that the applicant sent to the agency for delivery to the one of his clients. “

Given its position in the industry, Innovative Artists should have done better than uploading content, write lawyers for Warner.

“The actions complained of by the plaintiff are clearly illegal. This illegality would be obvious to anyone, but especially to Innovative Artists, an artistic agency that claims to promote the interests of actors, writers, directors and others whose livelihoods critically depend on respect for copyright ”, adds the complaint.

What only makes matters worse is the fact that some of the DVD screens ripped off by the agency have leaked beyond its platform, which was actually a shared folder on its Google Drive account.

According to the complaint, Warner Bros. found something was wrong when content security firm Deluxe Entertainment Services reported that screening copies of Creed and In the Heart of the Sea had appeared on file-sharing sites.

Both films were made available by Hive-CM8, a broadcast company responsible for numerous leaks in December 2015. Importantly, both contained watermarks that allowed them to be traced back to the source.

“Because the filters were ‘watermarked’ – encrusted with markers that identified their recipients – the requester traced the copies to the filters that the requester had sent to a client of Innovative Artists, under the agency’s responsibility,” note the complaint.

“Instead of passing the screeners directly to its client, Innovative Artists used illegal ripping software to circumvent technical measures that prevent access to and copying of DVD content. Innovative Artists then copied the films to its digital distribution platform, where these copies became available for immediate download and streaming, along with counterfeit copies of many other copyrighted films.

While the allegations are damaging enough already, they don’t end there. The complaint alleges that the agency also gave others access to filters stored on Google Drive in exchange for access to other titles not yet in its possession.

“Innovative Artists has traded access to some of its unauthorized digital copies of films in exchange for unauthorized copies of content held by third parties. For example, in one case, Innovative Artists granted an assistant at another company access to the digital distribution platform because the assistant provided a filter to Innovative Artists for a title that was not already on the platform, ”writes Warner.

For copyright infringement, Warner Bros. seeks actual or statutory damages, up to a maximum of $ 150,000 for willful breach, attorney fees and an injunction. For violations of the anti-circumvention provisions when Innovative ripped the DVDs, the studio is seeking the maximum legal damages allowed by the DMCA.

Update: Innovative Artists apologized (via deadline)

Innovative Artists has fully cooperated with Warner Bros. from the first moment Warner Bros. informed Innovative that two award-winning movies were found on a Bit torrent website in December 2015.

Innovative immediately enabled Warner Bros. enter its offices, interview its employees, examine its databases and thoroughly investigate problems.

Like Warner Bros. It is well known that the management of Innovative immediately closed all access to the reward filters in December 2015 and Innovative immediately ceased all other activity that is the subject of the complaint.

Warner Bros. is well aware from past experience with other industry entities that sharing award selectors is commonplace within the Hollywood community. Innovative was surprised, given its full cooperation with the Warner Bros. investigation, that the complaint was filed without any communication from Warner Bros. without any prior contact with Innovative to resolve complaints.

Notwithstanding this fact, Innovative apologizes for the inappropriate sharing of selection films and will seek to resolve this issue with Warner Bros. on fair and reasonable terms as soon as possible. Innovative will have no further comments on this subject.


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