Stream-Ripping Giant FLVTO.biz Officially Petitions the U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Joe Ravi

Late last month, Digital Music News was first to report that the copyright infringement battle between the RIAA and Tofig Kurbanov, owner of stream-ripping giant FLVTO.biz, could be heading to the United States’ highest court. Now, Kurbanov has officially petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) initiated the courtroom confrontation in the summer of 2018, part of its larger effort to confront international stream-ripping platforms. And while many observers believed that the case would produce a swift decision in the RIAA’s favor, a federal judge determined that the trade organization lacked personal jurisdiction over FLVTO.biz and 2CONV.com, which the Russian national Tofig Kurbanov also owns.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this ruling in June of 2020, emphasizing in part that FLVTO.biz and 2CONV.com require users in the U.S. (specifically Virginia) to accept a terms of service agreement prior to accessing the tools. Though these users aren’t required to pay to utilize the platforms, “the mere absence of a monetary exchange does not automatically imply a non-commercial relationship,” the court found.

Tofig Kurbanov and his legal team promptly pushed back against the ruling and attempted to immediately secure a rehearing, though the request was denied in July. And as mentioned, the hard-fighting defendants have formally petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.

In explaining why they believe the Court should grant certiorari, the petitioners note the lower courts’ conflicting rulings and the potentially far-reaching implications of the answer to the underlying question.

To be sure, the text reiterates at the outset that Kurbanov is from Russia and that FLVTO.biz “is not specifically aimed at the United States.”

Building upon the point, the petitioners relay that Kurbanov operates the platforms from his home country and has never entered the U.S. Plus, the document highlights the fact that none of the label plaintiffs are located in Virginia, where the case was originally filed.

“There are substantial non-infringing reasons why users would and do utilize the” stream-ripping websites, the petition continues, before indicating that 90 percent of their traffic is attributable to countries aside from America. Additionally, the petitioners double down on the point that Kurbanov monetizes the resources via third-party advert brokers, who facilitate the placement of suitable (geo-targeted) ads. And in a similar vein, the petition notes that Kurbanov doesn’t market FLVTO.biz in the States or Virginia itself.

At the time of this writing, the RIAA hadn’t publicly commented on FLVTO.biz’s Supreme Court petition. One week ago, we reported that the Big Three record labels were facing a firmly worded countersuit for allegedly issuing fraudulent piracy claims to New Jersey-based internet service provider (ISP) RCN Corporation.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Johnny

    The song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ recorded by the British band Queen cost $500,000 to record back in the 70s. I guess this guy, Tofig Kurbanov thinks that the individual members of Queen do not deserve to get paid for their creative work and in fact he thinks it is fair for him (and not the band Queen) to make money from this wonderful recording, enjoyed by millions of fans for so many decades. And he, along with millions of music fans who stream rip this remarkable song obviously think that the investors who put up this $500,000 should not be compensated for their investment. Yes, he thinks it is okay that HE MAKES MONEY from this song while the individuals who spent many weeks recording the amazing song should get nothing? And so how will any new bands be able to afford to record new songs like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ when Mr. Tofig Kurbanov then provides these songs to the world for free and thinks that is okay with the individual artists? Maybe he should go $500,000 into debt helping a new band record a new song and see how he feels when everybody stream rips the song and he loses his $500,000!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Seth

      It is actually funny to read clueless responses that presume to describe the thought process and intentions of people they’ve never met.

      It’s an interesting issue: At what point do US courts and laws become the world’s courts and laws?

      Japan, for example, has long permitted music rental that is in the US considered infringing. Should they be dragged into US courts, too? Or should Japan drag US companies into their courts to compel rental? Of course not! Copyright law is sovereign and applied nationally.

      Apple long ago hoisted billboards inviting Americans to “Rip, Mix and Burn.” Selling sound recordings has passed the expiration date. Streaming is the present and the future and well over 100 million American subscribers pay and provide loads of creative incentive. Plenty more pay around the world.

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    Roberto

    A company in Russia now sells all my music for less than $1 an album. WOW! What a deal! And the kids all go to that site now thinking they are saving money when in fact they are giving their money to a LOAD OF CROOKS who have no intention of paying the artists any money. Yes they use our music to make money then don’t pay us a DIME! And the fans are okay with this site?? All they are doing is putting the musicians and songwriters OUT OF BUSINESS. And so I no longer waste my time recording new music for Aholes in Russia to use to make money then NOT PAY ME!! Maybe the musicians need to go over to Russia and take some Baseball bats with them to the office of this site who steal all our revenues!

    Reply

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