Movie Studios Wins $51.6 Million for Hacking Damages Against Nitro TV’s IPTV Service *TorrentFreak

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Columbia, Paramount, Disney, Warner, Universal and Amazon have been awarded $51.6 million in copyright damages against the operators of the defunct IPTV service, Nitro TV. A California court awarded damages for willful infringement of 2,216 films and television shows. Six defendants, including YouTuber ‘Touchtone’, are also responsible for nearly $2 million in post-sentencing interest.

In April 2020, Columbia Pictures, Amazon Content Services, Disney Enterprises, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment, as well as three companies owned by Universal, filed a copyright infringement complaint in California District Court.

The plaintiffs alleged that Nitro TV offered subscription packages consisting of thousands of live and sponsored television channels available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the United States and abroad. The Office, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Toy Story 3, Star Trek Beyond, Homecoming, and Joker were among the many titles owned by plaintiffs and illegally distributed by Nitro.

The complaint initially featured Alejandro (Alex) Galindo as the sole defendant, but as time went on Galindo’s family members Ana, Martha and Osvaldo also found their names on file. The group is completed by Richard Horsten (aka “Rick De Groot”), Raul Orellana (aka “Touchtone” on YouTube) and his company, Firestream LLC.

Just a few years ago, Nitro TV was among the most popular IPTV brands on the Internet, but it will be remembered for the huge compensation it is now facing.

Judge Studios awards $51.6 million

In a judgment rendered on November 18, 2022, California District Court Judge Mamie Iosi-Mensah Frimpong found the Nitro defendants jointly and severally liable for $51,600,000 in statutory damages.

“This reflects the statutory maximum award of $150,000 per act for willful infringement by the Nitro Defendants of each of the 344 representative acts identified by Plaintiffs,” Judge Frimpong’s ruling reads. (sample below)

Sample nitro works

“This tort award also reflects an award of $27,200.84 per work for Defendants’ willful infringement in the 1872 identified case,” the judge added.

Benefits, costs and fees

Given that interest is permitted on financial judgments in civil cases, the judge also held the defendants jointly and severally liable for an additional $1,976,280 under 28 USC § 1961(a).

The film and television companies were also awarded $88,080 in attorneys’ fees and costs related to the discovery motion as well as $93,000 associated with a sanctions motion, both against Alex Galindo, as previously reported.

standing order

Plaintiffs obtained a preliminary injunction in 2020 and with that ruling, it has been made permanent.

It restricts defendants and third-party companies, including those that control various Nitro-related domains such as TekkHosting.com, NitroIPTV.com, Lalaluhosting.com, and Nitro.ltd.

Tucows, Namecheap, Domain.com and Peter Sunde’s Njalla must prevent modification, sale or deletion of any of the domains, until they are transferred to the plaintiffs.

Two years of litigation

The plaintiffs’ victory was not surprising, but the case itself presented several interesting moments.

Alex Galindo was charged with violating the preliminary injunction and withholding and destroying evidence, including 1,500 emails from his Gmail account. He also demanded the Fifth Amendment, ostensibly because of concerns about pursuing criminal prosecution.

Earlier this year, Galindo called for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that prosecutors did not prosecute him quickly enough. Meanwhile, Galindo’s lawyer asked to be excused from the case after his client remained silent after failing to pay his defense bills.

Nitro TV allegedly generated at least $7 million in illegal sign-ups, with YouTuber ‘Touchtone’ (Raul Orellana) taking in more than half a million dollars marketing Nitro online.

Judge Frimpong’s ruling and order awarding default can be found here (1, 2, pdf)

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