Cloudflare and media companies agree to change the “power grab” piracy injunction

Teddy Sagi
Reading time: 4 minutes

After getting the most significant injunction ever seen in a US streaming piracy lawsuit, several media companies said that Cloudflare should be criminally charged for not following the rules. Now, people are talking about how to end this fight. But it looks like that can only happen if the court agrees to change the injunction, named”power grab” before.

United King Film Distribution, DBS Satellite Services, and Hot Communication sued three illegal streaming sites for copyright violations in April. They won the case, and the court did everything these companies asked.

The court gave Israel-tv.com, Israel. tv, and Sdarot.tv millions of dollars in damages. In addition, they also provided them with the broadest injunction ever issued in a US piracy case.

The injunction said that no ISP could do business with the pirate platforms. It told residential ISPs to block their current domains and any new ones. It shows that you should be careful what you wish for because you might get it.

Media companies that were all part of the anti-piracy group Zira and had a lot of power started seizing domains. However, they asked the court not to make ISPs block the sites.

It looked like someone started to fight back. But the situation worsened after all kinds of orders were given to different online entities. The complainants asked the court to hold Cloudflare in contempt for not doing what they said. However, Cloudflare fired back with help from Google, the EFF, and the CCIA as amicus curiae.

‘Power Grab’ Injunction is Invalid

Briefs sent to the court are in detail. Still, everyone agrees that the injunction is too broad, doesn’t give enough information, and goes against the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 and the DMCA. Even though they might have known better, the plaintiffs kept saying they were right.

Last week, they sent in documents to back up their request for a quick ruling on their contempt charge against Cloudflare. In the filing, some records showed that Cloudflare’s DNS servers were handling four new domains. One of the pirate sites had set those up after losing all other domains.

None of these domains were specifically named in the injunction. As Cloudflare has already pointed out, any interpretation of the injunction that tried to make it cover new domains would go against fundamental limits on the range of injunctive relief that can be given. Cloudflare also said acting on the media companies’ unproven claims without judicial oversight is not an option.

Then, this week, a light appeared on the horizon that had not been there before.

Broadest Piracy Injunction in the US Needs Adjustment

In a joint letter sent to Judge Katherine Polk Failla on Tuesday, the media companies and Cloudflare say there is progress.

After talking things over, the two sides say they have come to an agreement in principle on how to solve their problems. This will be successful only by addressing the main issues that led the complainants to try to hold Cloudflare in contempt and the concerns that Cloudflare brought up at a recent conference.

At this point, the exact details are still a secret. But the plaintiffs say that as soon as the agreement is final, they will file a motion to change the April 26 default judgment and permanent injunction. The court will be asked to approve an order that has been changed.

The plaintiffs say they will then withdraw the pending motion for contempt against Cloudflare. Still, they will keep the right to file future actions to enforce the court’s original order or amended order. In return, Cloudflare has agreed to drop its request for attorneys’ fees and other costs related to responding to the plaintiffs’ motion for contempt.

It will be interesting to see how the revised injunction balances the interests of the plaintiffs with those of Cloudflare. In addition, every other service provider is affected by the original injunction.

Update

The docket doesn’t show that the agreement in principle is now final, but this is what Judge Failla said Wednesday:

“In light of the above status update, the Court hereby deems both Plaintiffs’ contempt motion and Cloudflare’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs to be withdrawn.”

Teddy Sagi Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *