Major Labels Seek Nearly $83 Million in Damages From Stream-Rippers FLVTO.biz, 2conv.com

Photo Credit: David Veksler

In August, after engaging in a back-and-forth courtroom confrontation with the RIAA for several years, stream-ripping giant FLVTO.biz ceased operating in the United States and the United Kingdom. Despite this shutdown, however, the major labels are now seeking nearly $83 million in damages, ownership of the platform’s domain name, and more.

The underlying legal battle between FLVTO.biz (as well as 2conv.com and the Russia-based services’ owner, Tofig Kurbanov) and the major labels kicked off back in 2018. While many observers anticipated a prompt victory for the RIAA – which has targeted other stream-ripping platforms as of late – a court ruled in favor of the defendants, indicating that it didn’t have jurisdiction over the services given that they’re operated out of Russia, once again.

An appellate court later overturned the ruling, and FLVTO.biz then argued that the RIAA should be compelled to file the suit in Russia – besides petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the case owing to the far-reaching questions raised about stateside courts’ jurisdiction over international web entities. These legal maneuvers failed to bring about the desired results for the defendants, though, and the RIAA subsequently demanded that FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com disclose users’ data logs – including their locations, IP addresses, and the YouTube videos from which they downloaded audio.

July saw FLVTO.biz push back against the demand and the corresponding court order, and the defendants’ counsel that same month moved to withdraw from the case, signaling that the stream-ripping parties did not intend to cooperate with discovery. Now, as initially mentioned, the plaintiffs have officially submitted a memorandum in support of their request for damages, control of the FLVTO.biz domain, and more, new legal documents reveal.  

A district judge ordered a default judgement in the plaintiffs’ favor last Friday, October 1st, and the major labels emphasize at the outset of the just-introduced 30-page-long memorandum that “parasitic” FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com have allegedly generated “untold amounts of money” from advertising. Similarly, Turbanov has allegedly “willfully disobeyed” court orders, according to the RIAA.

Expanding upon the latter, the text states: “Defendant’s litigation misconduct has made it similarly impossible to calculate Defendant’s profits from the Websites, because he disobeyed this Court’s order to produce financial documents. … All reasonable inferences should be drawn against Defendant and in favor of Plaintiffs when assessing damages.”

On the damages front, the RIAA is therefore seeking $50,000 for each of the 1,618 works that the stream-rippers in question allegedly infringed, including tracks from “Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, One Direction, Ariana Grande, Faith Hill, and Bruno Mars.”

In addition to this proposed $80,900,000 tranche, the RIAA is asking the court to approve $1,250 in damages for each of the allegedly infringed works – this time for “acts of circumvention of YouTube’s technological measures” – thereby elevating the total to $82,922,500 “plus post-judgment interest.” Finally, in terms of sought monetary compensation, the plaintiffs indicate that they’re “entitled to an award of their full costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”

Regarding the previously highlighted domain-transfer request (notwithstanding the US and UK shutdowns of FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com), the RIAA maintains that Turbanov “could flip a switch tomorrow and re-enable access to the” services in the countries. “Plaintiffs request that the Court order the transfer of the domain names associated with the Websites to Plaintiffs,” the document makes clear.

At the time of this piece’s writing, the defendants didn’t appear to have commented publicly on the major labels’ latest requests, and even if the court approves all or part of said requests, it’s unclear whether the plaintiffs will in fact be able to collect the corresponding damages. Separately, Hartford-based stream-ripper Yout last month refiled its aggressive lawsuit against the RIAA.

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