CHICAGO—Gay content producer Flava Works filed a copyright infringement lawsuit last week in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the file lockers Oron.com and Filesonic.com, and 26 John Does. This appears to be the first time Flava Works has sued file lockers for the theft of its content. The company sued "social video bookmarking" website MyVidster.com in 2010, and won a preliminary injunction ruling in the case last year.
The current complaint was filed on behalf of Flava by Chicago attorney Meanith Huon, who was also involved in the MyVidster case. In the current suit, Huon has decided to include Oron and Filesonic in addition to the 26 Does despite also naming several other file sharing services in the complaint as engaging in the same sorts of allegedly illegal activities as the two named file lockers.
"On information and belief, Oron.com, FileFactory.com, FileMonster.com, FilePost.com, FileServe.com, FileSonic.com, Hotfile.com, i-Filez.com, Rapidshare.com, and Shragle.com, Earnwell Hong Kong LTD, and Rapidshare AG, and its users upload copyrighted and trademarked intellectual property (movies, songs, software, or pictures, etc.) to its computer servers," the complaint alleges, adding, "After a file is uploaded, the aforesaid websites provides to its users a unique Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”) which allows its users to view or download the file from the website. The URL’s are disseminated throughout the internet by the aforesaid website and its users, which enable anyone with the URL to access, copy, and download the intellectual property from the website’s servers."
The complaint further alleges that the 26 Does are members of five Yahoo groups, the primary purpose of which is "for illegal copyright file sharing." All of the Does, it adds, "posted links to copyrighted videos that were located on the websites Oron.com, FileFactory.com, FileMonster.com, FilePost.com, FileServe.com, FileSonic.com, Hotfile.com, i-Filez.com, Rapidshare.com, and Shragle.com, Earnwell Hong Kong LTD, and Rapidshare AG."
Neither of the named file lockers are believed by the plaintiff to be "a legitimate file storage company" because of the "affiliates reward program" that pays members "based upon the number of downloads of their posted materials and based upon how many other premium memberships were bought by users accessing Filesonic.com through the member’s links."
According to TorrentFreak, "It is unclear why Flava Works has singled out these two file-hosting services as the complaint also mentions that Hotfile, Fileserve and Rapidshare were used to share files. Filesonic in particular seems to be an odd choice since the cyberlocker disabled public file-sharing months ago, which led to an exodus of users."
The complaint also alleges that longtime industry third-party biller CCBill "handles payment processing for Oron," though a perusal of the premium sign-up pages on Oron.com shows no indication that CCBill is currently billing for the site, and the company stated recently and previous to the filing of this lawsuit, that it would no longer provide such services for file lockers.
Flava is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees as well as statutory damages allowed under the Copyright Act.
The complaint can be accessed here.