Hosting provider Sharktech has settled a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by several film companies and agreed to block access to pirated sites.
The companies accused the service of not taking action against VPN providers, some of whose subscribers were pirating movies. As part of the agreement, Sharktech agreed to block prominent pirate sites including Pirate Bay, YTS, and RARBG.
In recent months, a group of independent film companies has filed a series of lawsuits against VPN providers and their hosting companies. Films such as Hunter Killer and Dallas Buyers Club have accused the services of conniving at piracy.
Film companies alerted Sharktech to this piracy activity through various copyright infringement notices that had little impact.
Sharktech said the company does not consider itself to be associated with pirates, as it provides services to VPN companies that provide services to end consumers, and the presence of pirates among the latter is extremely difficult to prove. The hosting provider likened the situation to a demand for the airline to stop providing transportation services to the postal service, since some of its customers may mail something illegal.
Negotiations to resolve the situation began last month and now the film companies and Sharktech have filed a motion to dismiss the case. Both sides agreed to a confidential settlement agreement.
Sharktech was not alone in facing legal action, however. VPN.ht also settled a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by a group of independent film companies earlier this year. As part of the deal, the VPN provider agreed to block all BitTorrent traffic and log IP address information on its servers in the United States.
The companies have accused the VPN provider of promoting the pirated Popcorn Time app to their users, noting that VPN.ht’s IP address has been used repeatedly to distribute pirated movies. After filing the initial complaint, copyright holders increased the pressure. They received a temporary restraining order ordering PayPal to freeze the assets of Wicked Technology Limited, the operating company of VPN.ht.
In addition to blocking BitTorrent traffic, VPN.ht has also agreed to keep logs of IP addresses that are associated with their servers in the US. These logs must be kept for at least a year and must point to specific users.
Lawsuits against VPN providers began in September this year. A group of independent film companies has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Virginia (USA) against four VPN providers (Surfshark, VPN Unlimited, Zenmate and ExpressVPN), which they accused of widespread copyright infringement, writes TorrentFreak.
In particular, the plaintiffs accused the providers of allowing their subscribers to bypass the geographic restrictions of streaming services such as Netflix, including positioning the services as a means of anonymously downloading copyright-infringing content. Thus, the plaintiffs said, VPN services are liable for “direct, facilitating and indirect” copyright infringement.
Let me remind you that I wrote that COVID-19 pandemic raised interest in pirated sites.