Federal Judge Issues $83MM Damages Recommendation In RIAA, FLVTO.biz Lawsuit

Photo Credit: David Veksler

In early October, the major labels demanded almost $83 million in damages from FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com. Now, a federal judge has officially recommended that the Russian stream-rippers be made to pay the entirety of the sum.

To recap the years-long legal battle between the major labels and FLVTO.biz (as well as 2conv.com and the platforms’ owner, Tofig Kurbanov), the RIAA in 2018 took aim at the stream-ripping giants in a firmly worded complaint. And while many observers anticipated a prompt victory for the plaintiffs, a judge ultimately dismissed the action, citing a lack of jurisdiction over the Russia-based defendants.

An appellate court later overturned the ruling, at which point FLVTO.biz argued that the RIAA should be compelled to spearhead the suit in Russia. And a subsequent Supreme Court petition (given the unique jurisdictional questions raised by the case), along with other dismissal efforts, failed to produce the desired result for the YouTube-to-MP3 converters.

The latter were eventually ordered to disclose users’ data logs – including their locations, IP addresses, and the YouTube videos from which they downloaded audio. July saw FLVTO.biz’s counsel withdraw from the case, indicating that their client didn’t intend to cooperate with discovery, and early October brought a default judgement against the stream-ripper services – which have ceased operating altogether in the U.S.

As mentioned at the outset, a federal judge has formally recommended that the defendants be ordered to pay nearly $83 million for their alleged copyright infringement.

In a 30-page-long memorandum in support of a request for damages, the RIAA called specifically for $50,000 for each of the 1,618 works that the stream-rippers in question had allegedly infringed upon, or $80.90 million. On top of this multimillion-dollar tranche, the major labels requested $1,250 for each act “of circumvention of YouTube’s technological measures,” or a total (as noted initially) of $82,922,500.

And through a new release, which was emailed to DMN, the music-industry trade organization revealed that U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan had green-lit the request for $82,922,500 in statutory damages (as well as legal fees). Per the corresponding document (which was included with the release), the judge also recommended that the court issue a permanent injunction against the stream-ripper defendants.

Said permanent injunction would, among other things, bar the stream-rippers from “directly or indirectly infringing” upon the major labels’ protected works or bypassing YouTube’s “rolling cipher” technology.

It doesn’t appear that the judge adopted the RIAA’s request (in the aforementioned memorandum) for ownership of the stream-rippers’ domain names, and U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton still has to review and approve the recommendation. Of course, even if Judge Hilton gives a stamp of approval to the roughly $83 million in damages, it’s unclear how exactly the RIAA will go about collecting the capital.

5 Responses

  1. Johnny

    Hey Mr. Tofig Kurbanov, thanks so much for giving all our work away for free for so many years. Us Rock Stars, we are all so rich that we no longer need any money from the sales of our music. And the fans stopped paying us anyway after Napster and so please don’t worry about us. We are happy to work Day jobs now in order to pay our bills and feed our families knowing that you are getting rich using our work while not paying us. Thanks again for all your help and kindness

    • Dean Hajas

      Hey Johnny. Couldn’t agree more. I also believe that Bell Rogers Cogeco AT&T Telus should be held partially liable. They make billions off of the illegally obtained music creations. You can’t have a successful bank robbery without a getaway driver…

  2. Dean Hajas

    Comes down yo #Jurisdiction I guess the record labels get a feel for what it’s like for an artist to take them on for their illicit infringements.