Movie Companies Demand VPN Providers to Log User Data
It’s no secret the online world is going through serious security issues where huge corporations are getting hacked for their data. In the midst of these attacks, VPNs have come forward as an easy and swift solution to these concerns.
A huge percentage of the global population uses VPNs in order to remain anonymous online and ensure that their browsing and surfing is private to avoid falling into online traps and dangers. VPNs also help users avoid online tracking and escape government and ISP surveillance ensuring greater control over online privacy.
Of course, with great privacy, comes the chance of misusing it, enabling a small part of the VPN user population to get into piracy activities. Over the past few years, several copyright holders have filed cases against certain ISPs for failure to disconnect users who have infringed upon copyright multiple times.
These lawsuits were filed by a group of movie companies who have also been known to be on the witch hunt for piracy websites and applications. A couple of these companies include the production house behind Hitman’s Bodyguard, the company behind London Has Fallen, and even the company that produced Dallas Buyers Club.
Recently, these lawsuits have also expanded to include VPN companies and providers as one of the prime targets. Just last year, some of these companies filed an official lawsuit in a federal court in Virginia. The lawsuit targeted four VPN giants including ExpressVPN and SurfShark for being involved in instances of copyright infringement.
A word on Netflix restrictions
The lawsuit entails several alleged cyber offenses including users bypassing regional blocking and streaming region-locked content on platforms like Netflix.
“Plaintiffs bring this action under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, et seq. (the “Copyright Act”), and allege that Defendants are liable directly and secondarily for copyright infringements in violation of 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501, secondarily for violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), 17 U.S.C. § 1202 and for injunctive relief pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 512(j)” the lawsuit reads.
Movie companies behind the lawsuit also provided the court a list of various examples of landing and sales pages where the VPN tools are being marketed as a means to bypass regional blocking and access content that is unauthorized in certain countries.
Following up on BitTorrent Piracy
Furthermore, the lawsuit also goes on to add the fact that besides letting users bypass regional and geographical restrictions, many VPN users are also directly involved in sharing pirated content like movies and TV shows on BitTorrent.
Even though there are no legal issues with using BitTorrent per se, promoting the platform in combination with the VPN tools as a way to access and download content that is blocked in a certain area falls under copyright infringement and is a punishable offense.
The movie companies also make mention of the fact that certain piracy websites actually partner with VPN companies and promote the downloading of copyrighted content. An example of YTS.movie was given where the website was shown promoting ExpressVPN, however, it isn’t exactly clear if ExpressVPN was aware of this mention.
Logging repeat infringers
According to a report, the movie companies in question have sent several notices pertaining to copyright infringement to the hosting companies. The notices were then forwarded to the VPN defendant, however, as it turns out, the VPN companies
VPN users are generally connected to a shared IP address; this makes it difficult to track an IP down to a single user, in case of notice like this, VPN companies can’t point of which subscribers from their pool are flagged. As a proposed solution from these movie companies, VPN providers can solve this issue by logging user data.
Compensation for the damage
Case in point, the filmmakers further appeal to the court to be compensated for this damage in the form of not only money, but the companies also proposed that VPN services should start blocking websites that are known for distributing copyrighted pirated content, for example, The Pirate Bay.
Finally, the companies also want the accounts of users behind the three most recent copyright infringement instances terminated by their respected VPN providers.
It’s safe to say that this isn’t the first time VPN companies have come under fire for copyright infringement allegations. Several other VPN providers, including TorGuard and LiquidVPN, have also been targeted in the past.