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    Pirates Who Illegally Streamed Jake Paul v Ben Askren Targeted in $100m Lawsuit

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    Social networking service Triller has filed a $100m lawsuit against 12 'business entities' and 100 John Does who it claims were involved in the illegal streaming of the Jake Paul vs Ben Askren boxing match on April 17. According to Triller, these "cyber-criminals" are responsible for diverting two million PPV buys away from the event.As one of the world’s most recognizable YouTubers, Jake Paul has leveraged his fame to become one of the most controversial names in boxing.
    Rather than working his way up through the ranks, Paul hand-picks his opponents to appear in so-called “money fights”, ones that have their roots in entertainment rather than the framework of traditional boxing.On April 17, he squared up against MMA veteran Ben Askren, an accomplished wrestler and UFC fighter well known for his lack of striking ability. Paul finished Askren in the first round.The pay-per-view event was a success but according to Triller, the social media platform behind the promotion, the card was dogged by massive piracy. Via a lawsuit filed in a California court, Triller is now hoping to claw back a cool $100m in damages from a number of entities and individuals who streamed the card illegally online.

    $100m Lawsuit Targets 12 ‘Business Entities’ and 100 John Does
    Covering several domains and what appear to be individuals, the lawsuit describes FilmDaily.com, AccessTVPro.co, Online2LiveStreams.us, CrackStreamsLive.com, Sports-Today.club, My-Sports.club, BilaSport.com, Trendy Clips, Mike, Your Extra, Eclipt Gaming, and ItsLilBrandon as “unknown business entities” involved in the illegal streaming of the event. 100 John Does also make an appearance.“Through this action, Triller seeks in excess of $100,000,000.00 against Defendants and each of them all of whom are cyber-criminals, for their outright theft and diversion of upwards of 2,000,000 unique viewers by providing them with illegal and unauthorized viewings of the Broadcast of the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren boxing event,” the complaint reads.According to Triller, the defendants utilized various torrent and streaming sites, including YouTube, to unlawfully upload, distribute, and publicly display the broadcast to the users of the websites, without authorization. The complaint alleges that this was done for-profit via shareable links, including PayPal links, which allowed users to send the defendants money in return for watching the event.“Through their egregious conduct, Defendants also encourage other online users to copy, share, download, distribute and share the Broadcast on the aforementioned websites. Defendants further unlawfully facilitate, participate, and induce other users to engage in the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation, distribution and public display of Plaintiff’s copyrighted Broadcast all to line their own pockets with monies that belong to Plaintiff,” Triller adds.

    The Defendants According to Triller
    At this stage, Triller doesn’t appear to know much about its targets. FilmDaily.com is confusingly described as a Nevada entity doing business via FilmDaily.co, a platform that exists to facilitate and induce the sharing of videos and live programming, including that owned by Triller, among its users.AccessTvPro is said to be registered in Arizona while Online2LiveStreams, CrackStreamsLive, Sports-Today.club, BilaSport, and My-Sports.club are all said to do business in California and are broadly accused of the same offenses.Trendy Clips, Mike, Your Extra, Eclipt Gaming, and ItsLilBrandon are all said to do business in California and are separately accused of running a single YouTube channel operating under the ‘Mike’ branding.“Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that the actions and omissions that serve as the basis for this complaint were undertaken jointly and with the consent, conspiracy, cooperation, and joint participation of all defendants,” Triller claims.

    Copyright Infringement and Various Other Offenses
    Triller’s complaint covers several counts, beginning with copyright infringement. The company says that the event was broadcasted via encrypted satellite signal and then retransmitted to cable systems, satellite companies and other licensed content distributors, including Triller’s online platforms. As such, Triller claims copyright in the broadcast and the exclusive right to copy, publicly perform and distribute it.According to Triller, the defendants obtained the broadcast through Internet websites and/or via their own pay-per-view purchases that were intended for private use only. As they failed to obtain permission from Triller when they utilized “various torrent and streaming websites” to upload and distribute the broadcast for profit, they violated the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 501).“As such, Plaintiff is entitled to disgorgement of Defendant’s profits directly and indirectly attributable to Defendants’ infringement of the Broadcast, in an amount to be established at trial, but in no event less than $100,000,000.00,” the complaint adds.

    Triller goes on to allege breaches of the Federal Communications Act, demanding between $60,000 and $110,000 for each violation, plus acts of conversion that caused damages of “no less” than $100m. All defendants are further accused of breach of contract on the basis that they bought the event from Triller or one of its outlets and then breached the agreed terms by infringing the company’s rights.All of the defendants are further accused of conspiracy to unlawfully access, copy and distribute Triller’s broadcast in exchange for payment from website users, while generating revenue from advertising and causing loss of business to Triller. The company also asks the court to restrain the defendants from any further acts of infringement.

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    Triller Offers Amnesty to Pirates, Claims VPN Users Aren’t Protected
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    Last week Triller filed a $100m lawsuit hoping to make several sites pay for illegally streaming the Jake Paul vs Ben Askren fight. Triller believes that up to two million people viewed the fight illegally so is now inviting people to enter into a $49.99 settlement agreement. VPN services, it is being claimed, will offer no protection to those who used them to pirate the event.On April 17, Jake Paul squared up against MMA veteran Ben Askren, finishing the accomplished wrestler in the first round.The card was a success but according to Triller, many sites and up to two million people streamed and viewed the event without paying.In order to make some of these people pay, last week Triller filed a $100m lawsuit in a California court targeting a range of sites and up to 100 John Does.While tracking down individuals and sites that offered the streams has its complications, vigorous legal action could give Triller opportunities to achieve damages, perhaps in significant amounts. However, the social media platform has now placed another initiative on the table, one that hopes to bring scared pirates out of the shadows.

    Streamed the Paul vs Askren Fight Illegally? Pay a Settlement
    In a statement, Triller claims that it will be pursuing up to two million people and will press for the maximum possible damages. However, if people step forward and voluntarily pay $49.99 (the original price of the event) before June 1, they can avoid legal action.“Triller will pursue the full $150,000 penalty per person per instance for anyone who doesn’t do the right thing and pay before the deadline,” said Triller’s head of piracy Matt St. Claire.“We are taking this position because it is outright theft. It is no different than walking into a store and stealing a video game off the shelf,” he said.“In the case of the offending sites, it’s worse because they also then resold it to many people, illegally profiting from work they do not own.”

    Triller Claims That VPN Users Aren’t Protected
    Although no VPN suppliers are currently listed in the company’s lawsuit (an amended complaint was filed last Saturday which added the H3 Podcast to the list of defendants), Triller suggests that these could become part of the discovery process and will be forced to hand over their customers’ details.“VPNs all have to comply and turn over the actual IP addresses of each person who stole the fight in discovery,” St. Claire said.“We will be able to identify each and every person, VPN or not, as each stream has a unique fingerprint embedded in the content,” he said.The big question is how much weight Triller’s threats carry.

    Intentionally or Not, These Are Mixed Messages
    While Triller’s threats seamlessly switch from suppliers of pirated content and those who allegedly consumed it, there are important differences. Courts generally view suppliers of pirated streaming content much more seriously than they do consumers and as far as we’re aware, no one in the United States has ever been ordered to pay damages for simply watching a pirated stream.Suppliers of illegal streams, on the other hand, have more to worry about. There is little doubt that such suppliers could be on the hook for all kinds of damages if Triller is able to back up its allegations. However, in order to get to the users of those sites, Triller will need to force the sites to hand over their users’ details.Whether that will be possible remains a big question and whether any information obtained via discovery will prove useful is perhaps an even bigger one. But what about Triller’s claims that VPN users aren’t safe? Again, Triller appears to be muddying the waters quite a bit here by blurring the lines between suppliers of content and consumers of it.

    First of all, VPNs can be ordered by a court to hand over their customers’ details but it is not always straightforward. Firstly, all good VPNs carry no logs, meaning that even if a site that streamed the site handed over visitors’ IP addresses, that trail will go immediately cold.

    Secondly, many VPN providers use shared IP addresses, meaning that the same IP address will show up in site logs time and time again, since they are being used by hundreds if not thousands of end-users. Since they will all be watching at the same time, pinpointing who did what will be all but impossible.

    Of course, it is very likely that some viewers will have used some free VPN app they got from Google Play or elsewhere. If these carry logs, tracking users down could be possible. That being said, the process would not be cheap and it would not be particularly easy, and with two million potential targets (at least according to Triller), the entire legal profession doesn’t have the manpower to deal with them all.In respect of the unique fingerprints that Triller says it deploys in its streams, they could prove useful but perhaps not in the way Triller seems to claim. The company implies that these could help them identify people who watched the stream, including those who used a VPN, but that deserves some nuance.What these identifiers can do is help Triller track down people who bought a stream officially and then restreamed it. It could also potentially link those redistributed streams to entities who further restreamed them. As a general rule, however, they won’t be particularly useful in tracking down consumers, VPN or not.

    The Settlement Offered By Triller
    Anyone spooked by Triller’s warnings can head over to the dedicated page set up by the company and pay a relatively small settlement. It begins by mentioning the lawsuit filed last week and notes that people who “unlawfully viewed or displayed the event but were not otherwise involved in its illegal sale or distribution” can pay $49.99 to obtain a “one-time settlement and release for their unlawful acts.”Before entering their names, email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, and payment card numbers, those who wish to confess to committing an offense are advised to read four lengthy paragraphs about the settlement and its terms and conditions.For example, despite apparently clearing the matter with Triller, people who pay the settlement also agree to Triller storing all of the information they provide “in perpetuity”, noting that it may be used and shared as Triller “deem necessary to enforce our rights under applicable law and this settlement and release.” On the other hand, people who settle aren’t permitted to reveal settlement details to anyone, unless required to by law.Triller also says that after payment, people who settle will be released from the lawsuit it filed last week but, at the time of writing, the people being asked to settle aren’t listed in the lawsuit as defendants. That could change, of course, but there won’t ever be an amended claim listing two million viewers by name.

    A Speculative Effort That Might Pay Off
    What Triller appears to be saying here is that if they already knew the identities of the alleged infringers, they would be pursuing them. However, they will take steps to try and find out identities by other means, and potentially pursue them then.In the meantime, people can come forward and confess, something that will enable Triller to positively identify those people with ease and get paid for the event too.The big question is whether people who viewed the event illegally are prepared to play the odds of being identified versus a payment of $49.99 which will identify them anyway.

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