January brought more seizures by ICE and copyright infringement lawsuits by media giants. Here are the top 10 copyright lawyer stories of January 2011:
1. Justin.tv sued for copyright infringement. Copyright gorilla Zuffa, LLC, owner of Ultimate Fighting Championship, has sued video streaming website Justin.tv for failing to adequately implement measures to prohibit users from streaming copyrighted materials over the service. Though the DMCA typically shields service providers like Justin.tv from these types of lawsuits, Zuffa's copyright lawyer argues that Justin.tv does not do enough to prohibit copyright infringement.
2. RIAA sends threatning letter to ICANN chair Peter Dengate-Thrush. The Recording Industry Artists of America sent a threatening letter to ICANN chair Peter Dengate-Thrush in January. The letter, which can be read here,expressed that the RIAA is concerned that a new music themed generic top-level domain name (gTLD) "will be used to enable wide scale copyright and trademark infringement." The RIAA is concerned that a pirate may "choose to hijack a music themed gTLD to enable wide scale copyright infringement of [the RIAA's] works."
3. Adult content providers continue to sue downloaders. Adult content providers continue to sue downloaders, while groups, such as Adult Copyright Company, US Copyright Group, and John Steele's Media Copyright Group continue to identify porn downloaders on behalf of content providers. Most notably, XPays has sued 843 individuals for downloading or distributing copies of the Paris Hilton Sex Tape.
4. Movie studios continue to sue downloaders. Much like the adult content providers, movie studios continue to sue downloaders. US Copyright Group, which had filed suit against 4,577 downloaders and had its case dismissed due to joinder issues, has now initiated copyright infringement lawsuits against individuals in jurisdictions around the country.
5. 26 record labels sue BitTorrent search engine ISOHunt for copyright infringement. 26 record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner, and Universal, have sued BitTorrent search engine ISOHunt for the alleged facilitation of copyright infringement in Canada. The record companies are seek approximately $4 million in statutory damages.
6. Google censors BitTorrent-related terms from autocomplete and instant search features. Google, under pressure from the MPAA and RIAA, has begun removing "piracy-related" search terms from its autocomplete and instant search features, such as torrent, BitTorrent, and uTorrent. Google has also removed the term "RapidShare," which is a web-based file sharing service.
7. MPAA and BRIEN take down 51 websites for copyright infringement. Through the joint efforts of the MPAA and BRIEN, 51 websites have been taken down for alleged copyright infringement. This is a continued effort to seize domain names that are alleged to have been used in the distribution of copyrighted materials.
8.Anime studios begin suing individual file sharers. Texas-based attorney Evan Stone, who was previously known for his representation of adult content producers, such as Larry Flynt Productions, has begun filing copyright infringement lawsuits against individual file sharers on behalf of anime producer Funimation. In a not-so-comedic twist, the first lawsuit has named 1,337 file sharers as defendants, which, to the uniformed, is the leet-speak spelling of "leet."
9. Blizzard sends DMCA takedown to YouTube over game mod, then backtracks. Video game developer/producer Blizzard entertainment sent a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube over a video that purported to display the fan-developed "World of Starcraft," a World of Warcraft mod. YouTube quickly removed the video, and Blizzard reached out to the developer and requested a name change after the modding community reacted.
10. Napster loses (again). Napster has lost a lawsuit to recover the $1.3 million in copyright attorneys fees it expended to defend against claims of infringement made by MSC Music America, which sued Napster for copyright infringement after record label Rounder, which entered into a publishing deal with Napster, failed to license Napster adequate copyright rights.