It was a shocking loss against a shadowy YouTube ‘stream-ripper’.
Now, major labels Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment are appealing a quick defeat at the hands of Russia-based stream-ripper FLVTO.biz. The major labels are being represented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), alongside hired counsel Jenner & Block.
Earlier this year, the RIAA-led legal team suffered an embarrassing defeat against FLVTO.biz and its owner, Tofig Kurbanov, who also operates 2conv.com. In a quick and decisive judgment, U.S. District Court judge Claude M. Hilton tossed the case on jurisdictional grounds.
Jenner & Block insisted that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Virginia was the correct venue against a site operator in Russia, though Hilton strongly disagreed based on the irrelevance of the state to the site. But Hilton took things further by blocking a refiling in any other U.S. District Court, including the Southern District of California.
The seemingly sloppy legal work was actually part of a well-worn strategy that backfired.
Essentially, the RIAA planned on Kurbanov not responding, a situation that produces fast, decisive victories that can then be used to shut down numerous sites in a category. In fact, leading up to the actual proceedings, the RIAA had little idea who Kurbanov was, and even added multiple ‘John Does’ to the defendants list.
But Kurbanov not only responded, he responded with a serious legal defense team spanning multiple law firms. Suddenly, Kurbanov was outsmarting the RIAA’s seasoned legal team, and outmaneuvering them into an early defeat.
But this ain’t over yet. Earlier this week, the major labels filed a notice of appeal, with a formal appeal expected within the next few months. That’s according to Val Gurvits of Boston Law Group, PC, one of three firms defending Kurbanov, FLVTO.biz, and 2conv.com.
Jonathan Lamy, the RIAA’s PR person, did not respond to an inquiry on Friday.
Earlier, Gurvits predicted that an appeal was on the way. But the attorney told us that the timetable will be slow. In an email exchange this week, Gurvits said he expects the RIAA’s appeal to be filed in a few months, with a decision handed down in a year’s time.
Ultimately, the opening salvo in this battle won’t be decided until 2020. All of which gives FLVTO.biz considerable room to maneuver, especially given that the legality of YouTube stream-ripping has yet to be argued.