Earlier this month, YouTube stream-ripping websites FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com – as well as their owner, Russia native Tofig Kurbanov – pushed back against an order to compile and turn over data logs as part of their legal showdown with the RIAA. Now, the parties are refusing to cooperate with discovery, and their lawyers have filed a motion to withdraw from the case.
The years-running courtroom confrontation initiated back in 2018, when the major labels, in one of several efforts to put stream-ripping platforms out of commission, filed a lawsuit against the websites and Tofig Kurbanov. Many observers anticipated a quick victory for the plaintiffs, but a court ruled in favor of the defendants, specifying that it didn’t have jurisdiction over the Russia-based sites, which receive a small percentage of their traffic from users in the U.S.
An appellate court ultimately overturned this early ruling, however, prompting the stream-ripping services to argue that the RIAA should file the action in Russian courts – and even petitioning the Supreme Court. With these efforts having failed to bring about the desired results, the RIAA in 2021 demanded data logs – including users’ locations, IP addresses, and the YouTube videos that they downloaded audio from – and the presiding judge late last month ordered the stream-ripping services to produce the information.
As initially mentioned, FLVTO.biz, 2conv.com, and Kurbanov pushed back against the order, indicating, among other things, that the sites hadn’t previously stored the requested information and that doing so could compromise users’ personal data – potentially violating privacy laws in these visitors’ home countries in the process.
But new legal filings yet reveal that Kurbanov has officially stepped back from the case, making “clear that he does not intend to cooperate further with the present litigation or counsel’s attempts to mount an effective defense on his behalf,” according to his attorneys.
Moreover, Kurbanov – who emphasized over the course of the suit that he’s never entered the U.S. – specified to his attorneys “that he is not subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court” and “declined to provide discovery as requested.
“As such, Counsel for Defendant is unable to meaningfully participate in the litigation process and as a result, there has been a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship,” the text proceeds, also noting that Kurbanov hasn’t opposed his former counsel’s plans to withdraw from the action. And if the motion to withdraw receives approval, these legal professionals will forward to the RIAA’s own attorneys “the email address and telephone number that they have used to communicate with Mr. Kurbanov.”
Evan Fray-Witzer, one of the FLVTO.biz defense lawyers, informed TorrentFreak of his disappointment with the outcome and said that he believes the case “was a strong one on the merits.” Additionally, he indicated that “the whole issue of personal jurisdiction in such a context continues to cry out for guidance from the Supreme Court.”