NitroTV hit with $51m piracy damages
December 5, 2022
By Colin Mann
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the coalition dedicated to protecting the dynamic legal ecosystem for creative content, has applauded a new federal court order requiring IPTV piracy service NitroTV to pay $51.6 million (€49m) in damages to certain ACE members for “egregious” copyright infringement.
NitroTV was a collection of unlicensed web-based and application-based streaming platforms that, for $20 per month, offered subscription packages consisting of thousands of channels of unauthorised live events and unauthorised film and television titles to viewers in the US and abroad. The service was spearheaded by defendant Alex Galindo and others.
In a November 18th order, US District Court Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong granted ACE members’ request for the maximum statutory damages amount of $51.6 million – or $150,000 per work for each of the 344 film and TV titles at issue – after finding that Galindo and other NitroTV defendants “willfully engaged in egregious copyright infringement”.
In light of the wilful infringement, Judge Frimpong noted that NitroTV’s “very existence” “undermines and stunts the growth of the market” for ACE members’ “legitimate offerings” of film and television content.
Judge Frimpong continued by noting that NitroTV’s infringement compromised ACE members’ “business model, as well as the entertainment industry itself,” by undermining “copyright owners’ ability to control the distribution and use of their copyrighted works.” Judge Frimpong also recognized that NitroTV’s infringement “threatens ACE members’ relationships with their legitimate licenses and … digital distribution business; encourage[s] the growth of the illicit market for infringing content; and exposes [ACE members] to continued risk of piracy.”
The court also emphasised Gallindo’s repeated attempts to destroy evidence and flout court orders. In her June report and recommendation, US Magistrate Judge Gail Standish advised Frimpong to find that Gallindo “willfully violated Court orders, and refused and failed to cooperate in discovery”. In her November judgement, Frimpong wrote that Gallindo “engaged in spoliation [of evidence] and blocked Plaintiffs from conducting meaningful discovery to determine the full scope of the Nitro Defendants’ infringement”.
“ACE applauds Judge Frimpong’s strong ruling against NitroTV, which underscores the direct and serious harm that piracy operations inflict on the legal marketplace and creative economy,” said Karyn Temple, Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel of the Motion Picture Association. “The MPA and ACE are committed to pursuing action, through courts or other legal authorities, against anyone who infringes upon our members’ rights.”
The lawsuit was filed by ACE members Columbia Pictures, Amazon Content Services, Disney Enterprises, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Universal City Studios Productions and Universal Content.
In their complaint, the ACE members noted that the channels available on NitroTV include many of the world’s most popular TV programmes and movies such as The Office, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Toy Story 3, Star Trek Beyond, Homecoming and Joker. NitroTV’s “unlawful conduct … directly and willfully subverts that [legal] ecosystem through pursuit of illicit profits from massive and blatant infringement of Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works,” ACE members wrote in their complaint.