Movie companies want VPNs to log user data and disconnect hackers * TorrentFreak
Amid growing concerns about online privacy and security, VPN services have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Millions of people use VPNs to stay safe and prevent strangers from tracking their online activities. As with typical Internet providers, a subsection of these subscribers may be involved in hacking activity.
Over the past few years, we have seen copyright holders sue several ISPs, accusing them of failing to sign off repeat copyright infringers. These lawsuits have spread recently, with VPN providers being the main targets.
Lawsuits against the VPN are being filed by a group of independent film companies that are also preying on hacking sites and apps. They include directors of films such as The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Dallas Buyers Club, and London Has Fallen.
Last week, those companies filed a new lawsuit in federal court in Virginia, targeting four VPN services. In their complaint, the filmmakers accuse Surfshark, VPN Unlimited, Zenmate and ExpressVPN of being involved in widespread copyright infringement.
Bypass Netflix restrictions
The complaint sums up a long list of alleged wrongdoing. This includes allowing VPN subscribers to bypass the geo-restrictions of streaming services such as Netflix.
“The defendants are advertising their service to allow their subscribers to bypass regional restrictions on streaming platforms to stream copies of copyrighted content, including plaintiffs’ works from locations where the plaintiffs did not allow the platform to broadcast the works, “the lawsuit reads.
The filmmakers list various examples of promotional pages where VPN providers claim their services can bypass blocking efforts and other restrictive measures. In some cases, these are pretty straightforward, as illustrated by the following UnlimitedVPN announcement.
In addition to bypassing geo-restrictions, the filmmakers also list various examples of VPN subscribers who are directly involved in sharing pirated movies through BitTorrent.
While BitTorrent can also be used legally, VPN companies would promote their service as a tool for anonymously uploading copyright infringing material.
“The defendants are promoting their VPN services as a tool that can be used to hack copyrighted content without getting caught,” the complaint states.
“The recordings show that the defendants ‘subscribers downloaded the torrent files to reproduce the plaintiffs’ films such as The Brass Teapot, Hellboy, Rambo V: Last Blood, Angel Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, 2 Guns, And So It Goes, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt… “
The filmmakers claim that some VPNs “team up” with notorious movie pirating websites to promote their service. For example, the YTS.movie site promotes the use of ExpressVPN. However, it’s not immediately clear if ExpressVPN is aware of this.
The film companies further allege that VPN clients engage in other types of “outrageous conduct” under this privacy shield, including racist comments, child pornography, and even murder.
Registration of repeat offenders?
Rights holders have sent thousands of copyright infringement notices to hosting companies, which are said to have been forwarded to VPN defendants. However, based on these reviews, the accused VPNs cannot identify individual subscribers.
Most VPN users are connected to shared IP addresses which cannot be directly linked to unique users, so VPN companies simply do not know which subscribers are being reported. According to film companies, VPNs can easily overcome this problem by logging user data.
“Defendants have the option of registering their subscribers’ access to their VPN service, but either voluntarily deleting the recorded information or configuring their system so that the recorded information is deleted so that they can promote their service. as a way to hack copyrighted works anonymously. “
Damage, site blocking and logging
Based on these and other claims, the filmmakers argue that VPN services are responsible for direct, contributory, and indirect copyright infringements. Through this lawsuit, they seek compensation for the alleged damage.
In addition to the money, the filmmakers are also calling for VPN services to start blocking known pirate sites such as The Pirate Bay and RARBG, which have been listed in the U.S. Trade Representative’s list of notorious markets.
In addition, they are asking for an order requiring VPN companies to terminate the accounts of subscribers for whom they receive three unique copyrights ascertained within 72 hours, unless the subscriber appeals.
It goes without saying that these are general allegations that will likely be challenged in court. At the time of writing, VPN providers have yet to file an official response.
This is not the first time VPN providers have faced claims of copyright infringement. Previously, VPN.ht was also sued, while Private Internet Access and TorGuard were recently added to the lawsuits previously filed against Quadranet and LiquidVPN respectively.
A copy of the lawsuit against Surfshark, VPN Unlimited, Zenmate and ExpressVPN, which the film companies have filed in federal court in Virginia, can be found here (pdf)