ABS-CBN files over $8M lawsuit vs website for piracy

MANILA, Philippines –  ABS-CBN Corporation on Friday, February 17 filed a lawsuit before the US Federal District Court against a website for damages of over $8 million on infringement of trademarks and registered copyrights of 27 television shows and movies.

A video-streaming website called kissasian.com was found to be rebroadcasting 27 of ABS-CBN's TV shows and movies.

The Lopez-led broadcast giant said this is to step up its anti-piracy enforcement in 2017.

"These pirate sites often victimize our fans when they access these sites and are later attacked by malware which steals their financial and personal data.  We are going after every pirate wherever they live and operate," ABS-CBN's Assistant Vice President of Global Anti-Piracy Elisha Lawrence said in a statement.

"We arrested and sued numerous pirates last year and we plan to quadruple that effort this year," she added. (READ: #PHVote: Businesses winning, losing in 2016 elections)

In his amended default judgment, District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas ordered the defendants to pay at least $1 million each in statutory damages.

The judge also ordered the defendants to stop advertising, promoting, performing, copying, broadcasting or distributing ABS-CBN's copyrighted work, which includes a variety of television programming.

Quadrupling efforts

Among the pirate websites, freepinoychannel.comand pnoytambayantv.com were each ordered to pay $1.18 million in statutory damages, while lambingan.to, pinoynetwork.to, and tambaytayo.com are on the hook for $1.09 million each.

Pinoymovie.to was ordered to pay $1.24 million in statutory damages.

These websites provide on-demand streaming performances of full-length versions of television shows and movies through their sites, according to the suit.

"Defendants' websites are classic examples of pirate operations, often with poor quality," according to Lawrence.

"We invest a great deal in our television shows and movies so the customers have a superior viewing experience. These pirates are willfully infringing ABS-CBN's copyrighted works and damaging the ABS-CBN brand," she added.

The listed media giant said it had requested at least $2 million in statutory damages per counterfeit trademark used, as well as triple the defendants' profits from the alleged infringement.

ABS-CBN said it is represented by lawyer Stephen M. Gaffigan. The cases are ABS-CBN Corp. et al. v.kissasian.com., Case No. 0:17-cv-60352 and Case ABS-CBN Corporation, et al. v. FreePinoyChannel.com et al., case number 0:15-cv-61002, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. – Rappler.com