Business News Labels & Publishers Legal
By Chris Cooke | Published on Monday 9 August 2021
The operator of FLVTO and 2conv last week seemingly voluntarily blocked all and any American users from accessing the two sites. US-based internet users are now told that FLVTO and 2conv’s services are “permanently unavailable” in the country. A similar message is seen by UK users, but the websites seem to be operating normally elsewhere the world.
Stream-ripping services – websites and apps that allow people to grab permanent downloads of temporary streams – have been the music industry’s top piracy gripe for years now, of course. Various stream-ripping sites, and the people running them, have been targeted with litigation, and that included the Russian owner of FLVTO and 2conv, who was sued in the US by the majors.
Whereas some stream-rippers have just gone offline as soon as any litigation is filed, FLVTO and 2conv owner Tofig Kurbanov decided to fight, initially getting the case being pursued by the labels dismissed on jurisdiction grounds. However, the lawsuit was then reinstated on appeal.
Kurbanov initially continued to fight the labels’ lawsuit, reckoning that neither FLVTO nor 2conv were actually liable for copyright infringement. However, last month lawyers working for Kurbanov confirmed that their client would no longer participate in the legal battle, because he objected to a court order that demanded he store and share server logs that identify what content is being ripped via his websites, and where the individual rippers are based.
Unsurprisingly, that resulted in the labels seeking a default judgement in their favour. According to Torrentfreak, the record industry’s legal reps said in a filing with the court that: “Defendant’s conduct amounts to a failure to defend and has effectively shut down the continued prosecution of this lawsuit. His contumacious and continuing discovery abuses are precisely the kind of conduct for which the default judgment sanction … exists”.
The labels will likely get the default judgement in their favour allowing them to claim damages from Kurbanov, which he’ll almost certainly never pay. The record industry could then also seek to seize the domain names Kurbanov’s uses and possibly seek an injunction forcing ISPs in the US to block access to FLVTO and 2conv, even though web-blocking of that kind remains somewhat controversial Stateside.
It was perhaps to pre-empt any future web-blocking efforts by the labels that Kurbanov last week decided to himself block US users from accessing his websites. His sites were already part of a web-blocking order that was issued in the UK earlier this year, which is possibly why he is now geo-blocking British users too.
Torrentfreak also notes that FLVTO and 2conv aren’t the only stream-ripping sites now blocking users in both the US and the UK. Rival stream-ripping set up Y2Mate likewise withdrew its services from American and British users last week. From a UK perspective, the Y2Mate development is perhaps more significant, it having been identified as a particularly popular stream-ripping site in a study about ongoing music piracy in the UK published by PRS last year.