After suing over copyright in 2021, several Hollywood studios and Netflix won a broad injunction to shut down PrimeWire, an illegal streaming site, in April of this year. It won’t surprise you that it’s easier to say than do. The MPA says that after an injunction cut off the head of PrimeWire, a new site called HydraWire popped up to make fun of Hollywood and the Court.
“Whac-a-mole” is a well-known term in the field of content protection. When pirates or their links are seen in one place, they can quickly be seen in another.
Pirate platforms are another way to talk about a similar problem. For example, the “hydra effect” happens when a lawsuit directly attacks a site’s ability to work with certain domains or brands. Like the monster with the same name from Greek mythology, if you cut off one head, two more grow back in its place.
In April 2022, several Hollywood studios and Netflix won an injunction to shut down PrimeWire. This long-running illegal streaming site had gotten around ISP blocking injunctions worldwide.
The MPA should have taken control of all PrimeWire domains within days. However, registrars responded slowly or not at all, so some PrimeWire domains are still up and running. It is said that a new head is growing on the PrimeWire hydra, which makes it harder to enforce the MPA.
HydraWire.tv is The New PrimeWire, MPA Says
Even though the MPA has a clear legal win over PrimeWire and its operator, the case so far shows that nothing is simple when a defendant can’t be found and is determined to keep doing business as usual.
According to the MPA, a new streaming site called HydraWire.tv claims to be PrimeWire’s replacement. The MPA’s anti-piracy team learned about the site on May 31, 2022, and they think that PrimeWire’s operators are behind it.
The site’s domain was registered on April 21, 2022, one day after the PrimeWire injunction was handed down. The site’s visuals are very similar to those on PrimeWire.
Websites are easy to copy, so the MPA looked into more than just graphics and text.
Too Many Coincidences
Like PrimeWire’s domains, HydraWire’s is hidden behind Cloudflare and has confidential registration information. Both platforms use the same host and domain registrar (Sarek Oy) (FlokiNet). For people who don’t know, these two companies have a reputation for being hard to get information from.
The MPA says HydraWire mostly gets its videos from the same cyberlocker services as PrimeWire. HydraWire also has a feature that lets former PrimeWire users restore their PrimeWire libraries on the new platform using CSV files.
The MPA’s investigators have also been keeping an eye on the /r/primewireli sub-Reddit, where posts promoting HydraWire as a PrimeWire alternative were left up. In contrast, posts about competing services were taken down.
In short, the MPA thinks HydraWire is closely related to PrimeWire and is therefore covered by the current injunction. So, the HydraWire.tv domain should be added to the growing list of connected PrimeWire domains.
“Defendants’ choice to name this site ‘HydraWire’ mocks the Injunction and Plaintiffs’ diligent efforts to enforce it. Plaintiffs request that the Court modify the Injunction to add www.hydrawire.tv to the list of enjoined domains,” the MPA informs the Court.
The Studios Are Still Entitled to Damages
Even though the injunction is an excellent way to get things done, the MPA also wants the owner of PrimeWire to pay them money.
Since a few months ago, the Hollywood group has gathered information about damages to file a motion for default judgment. It has asked third parties for details about PrimeWire’s business dealings by sending subpoenas, but it needs more time.
“Plaintiffs’ meet-and-confer efforts with subpoena recipients remain ongoing,” the MPA informed the Court this week.
“Subpoena recipients have requested extensions in order to provide notice to third parties and to deal with the complexity of searching for advertising revenue associated with particular URLs, as online advertising often involves multiple levels of intermediaries or brokers.”
So far, though, the work hasn’t been for anything. The MPA says that its information suggests that PrimeWire may have been making “at least five figures in monthly advertising revenue.” This is not a small amount, especially for those looking forward to reappropriation.
The MPA also says that HydraWire.tv has sometimes gone down and come back up. This shouldn’t make the Court think it doesn’t work. When this is being written, the domain is, in fact, down.