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Movie Companies Drag Phone Store into Piracy ‘Recommendation’ Lawsuit

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Two movie studios have added Verizon retailer Victra to a piracy lawsuit. The filmmakers previously accused an employee of recommending the 'pirate' application Showbox to a customer and now state that Victra is vicariously liable for contributory copyright infringement, demanding damages in federal court.

The makers of the films ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ and ‘A Family Man’ are not new to filing copyright infringement lawsuits.

They previously went after alleged BitTorrent pirates, ordering them to pay significant settlement fees or face legal repercussions. This so-called “copyright troll” approach worked well, but in Hawaii, they have expanded their reach.

In a complaint filed in May at the US District Court of Hawaii, ME2 Productions and Headhunter accused local resident Taylor Wolf, who works at the Verizon-branded phone store Victra, of promoting Showbox and its infringing uses to a customer.

Showbox is a movie and TV-show streaming application that’s particularly popular among mobile Android users. The app is capable of streaming torrents and works on a wide variety of devices. The app can be used to pirate too, and that’s what the employee allegedly promoted.

This approach was already unique by itself, but in an amended complaint filed this week, the filmmakers go a step further.

Allegedly, other Victra employees encouraged Wolf to promote the Showbox app to drive up sales. This prompted the movie companies to add AKA Wireless and ABC Phones, which do business as Victra in Hawaii, according to the complaint.

“Upon information and belief, other employees of VICTRA informed First Defendant Wolf of Show Box and encouraged her to distribute and promote Show Box to customers in order to drive sales of telecommunication equipment, thus giving financial benefit to Second and Third Defendants,” the complaint reads.

This means that, in addition to suing the employee for contributory copyright infringement, the Victra store itself is also bing held vicariously liable for alleged copyright infringement.

“The Second and Third Defendants are vicariously liable for the contributory copyright infringement of First Defendant Wolf, as First Defendant Wolf was acting within the scope of her employment when she committed the wrongful conduct..,” the complaint reads.

The Victra defendants had the right and the power to directly control the activities of the employee and received a direct financial benefit from the infringing activities, the filmmakers allege.

It’s quite an unusual approach, to say the least.

While the complaint didn’t mention how Wolf was identified, it’s likely the filmmakers first went after the customer in a traditional BitTorrent lawsuit, who then informed them about the Showbox recommendation.

After the movie studios found out that other employees were involved, the phone store was added to the lawsuit as well. That, conveniently, increases the chance for the movie studios to recoup their damages…


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Holding an employee individually liable is a neat trick.  Not only will the company fire her but she will have to provide her own attorney at her expense, which means she probably won't get a good one since she was only making minimum wage, if she gets one at all.  May be cheaper to just plead guilty.


Computer stores have had similar problems with employees suggesting pirated software.  So including phone stores isn't much of a reach.

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Posted (edited)

Here in the Philippines, it is illegal for PC stores to preload OS software that wasn't actually bought by customers...

He they raid, confiscate and  sue the offenders, even if they are WELL KNOWN ...




Pirates are getting more and more creative to be able to sell their wares, especially with the more intense operations of the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT). Instead of simply illegally copying discs of business software and operating systems, scrupulous merchants are also now mixing in pirated software along with the legitimate copies that they are selling.


According to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the copies are of very high-quality and can easily deceive customers into thinking that they are buying legitimate software. “The customers are basically paying for the price of an original but receiving pirated copies in exchange,” operatives from the NBI noted.


Late last year, the NBI Intellectual Property Rights Division implemented a search warrant at Gaisano Interpace Computer System operated by Michael Sia, a computer parts and software retailer at the Gilmore IT Center, a popular computer store hub. The raid seized 26 high-quality unlicensed copies of the Microsoft Windows 10 Professional operating system.

The discs were marked “Made in Malaysia” and “Made in the United States”, but were found to be pirated upon authentication. The PAPT warned the public, especially businesses, to be vigilant and to be careful when dealing with computer stores that offer deals that are “too good to be true.” It is advisable to buy from authorized retailers of any of their chosen software or tech products.

Microsoft Philippines is currently pursuing a case against Gaisano Interpace. Formed in 2005, the PAPT is a joint effort from agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, Optical Media Board, the Philippine National Police and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, which joined the group in 2011. Its goal is to execute integrated and coordinated endeavors by the government to counteract the negative effects of software piracy on the local IT industry and the economy.

For more information on PAPT campaigns and details on PAPT crackdowns, call the PAPT Secretariat at (02) 512-9757 or visit www.papt.org.ph










According to Supreme Court Circular A.M. No. 02-1-06-SC, the following steps must followed in the conduct of an anti-piracy search and seizure proceedings by government agencies implementing the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines:

  1. Before such search and seizure (commonly called “raid“) of documents and articles in an i-café suspected of violating the intellectual property rights of a patent and/or copyright holder, the intellectual property holder or his duly-authorized representative must first secure a writ of search and seizure in accordance with Section Nos. 5 to 9 of the above-mentioned Supreme Court Circular. The posting of cash or surety bond of reasonable amount sufficient to pay for the damages that the i-café owner may incur in case the accuser or IPR holder loses the case is also provided in the circular.
  2. During the raid, the writ of search and seizure must be served on the alleged infringing i-café owner, his agent or representative or to person in control of the premises who must be given the chance to read the writ before its enforcement. The head of the raiding team called Commissioner in the circular must be a lawyer and he shall supervise the procedure of the search and seizure to be done by the sheriff. The whole procedure of the search and seizure is covered by Section Nos. 10 to 16 of the circular. It must be noted that Section 16 provides that only the computer disks and other storage devices can be seized by the raiding team unless those items cannot be readily removed, in which case the computer unit can be taken.
  3. After the raid, the sheriff must return the writ (this means submit a report) within three (3) days. Within the same period, the i-café owner may file a motion to discharge the writ requesting for the return of the seized item on grounds specified in Section 18 of the circular. The procedures that must happen after the raid including the remedies available to allegedly adverse i-café owner are covered by Section Nos. 17 to 20 of the circular.
  4. The filing of the case, its hearing and subsequent judgment are in Section Nos. 21 to 25 of the Supreme Court Circular A.M. No. 02-1-06-SC.


Edited by teodz1984

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