Will Hollywood Lawsuits Shut Down Your Favorite VPN?


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If you want to torrent copyrighted material, a VPN will hide what you’re doing. Well, at least for now: If it’s up to Hollywood, torrent users will soon no longer be able to hide behind anonymous IP addresses provided by VPNs and are taking VPN providers to court to make this happen.

Not just a concern for BitTorrent users

In recent years, several VPN providers have found themselves on the receiving end of legal action on behalf of the movie industry. VPNs have won some cases, but others have led to VPNs committing to tracking certain users or even shutting down altogether.

Let’s take a look at some of the cases that have come up, their consequences, and what they mean, not just for the average torrent, but for all VPN users. Will Hollywood be able to shut down your favorite VPN?

Hollywood and torrent

Movie studios and distributors have made no secret of their desire to stop piracy of their products. Torrent sites have been a particular target of lawsuits, and in some cases, their complaints have led to government action. Examples include the world famous The Pirate Bay, as well as Kickass Torrents, both of which were removed by the police.

Although these were touted as massive victories for copyright law, the fact is that they were empty victories at best. The Pirate Bay was up and running again while the crime scene tape was still up. Right now, you can visit any of the hundreds of proxy sites and get access to the entire catalog of pirated material.

The biggest change for torrent users has been that you can now be fined for committing software piracy. If you were to use Bittorrent now to download a popular Hollywood movie, you might expect some kind of notice to appear in your digital or physical mailbox warning you to remove it or face fines.

These fines are no joke, either: In 2009, a Boston jury made a man pay $675,000 in damages for downloading 30 songs, while in 2021, Danish police arrested six people running a torrent site. Its author also received threatening letters from copyright watchdogs while living in the United States in 2016, threatening unidentified fines and action for downloading a Hollywood movie.

Torrenting and VPNs

To avoid these punitive measures, there is a powerful tool torrenters can use: Virtual Private Networks. These helpful tools can spoof your IP address (one of the most important ways you can be identified online) and thus make torrenting safe again. Even if a copyright watchdog sees you downloading torrent files, there is nothing they can do about it as it cannot be tracked.

Read all about how VPNs work if you’re a bit fuzzy on the details.

Of course, you can go to the VPN in question and ask for user details to find out who’s been downloading what, but since most VPNs don’t keep logs (or at least say they don’t), there’s nothing you can do. do. find.

Hollywood VPN Lawsuits

However, that hasn’t stopped studios and movie distributors from trying, and a lot of lawsuits have been filed in recent years. Some focus on forcing VPNs to start logging user information, while others have focused on getting some form of remuneration or even shutting down services.

For example, in one case, the VPN provider Private Internet Access was sued in an attempt to obtain information about customers who had downloaded the movie. angel has fallen – Apparently having to watch the movie wasn’t punishment enough. In this case, it appears that the legal action was limited to threats as PIA never received a subpoena for the records.

Slightly more serious was the lawsuit filed against LiquidVPN, a small provider that advertised itself quite aggressively as a great solution for torrenting and streaming pirated material. The suit alleged $10 million in damages. It seems that instead of paying, LiquidVPN upped the ante and just disappeared. Pretty nasty for anyone who’s pre-paid for a year’s use, we guess.

hollywood scale

To some extent, you can expect suits like our two examples above; after all, the movie industry is worth billions and they don’t want to lose a single penny to piracy. So it’s no wonder that when a company attorney sees a loophole he could exploit, he’ll try. However, it appears Hollywood is now resorting to some decidedly nasty tactics to persuade judges to take action against VPNs.

A good example was seen earlier this year when lawyers representing more than 20 movie studios and distributors took several VPNs to court, including some of the largest VPNs in the business, such as ExpressVPN and PIA.

It was argued that VPNs were not only helping to download copyrighted material, but also facilitating the distribution of child pornography, staging terrorist attacks, and spreading hate speech, among other horrendous crimes.

In their defense, the VPNs in question claimed that the Hollywood lawyers were simply trying to rile up the judge and jury by equating their services with providing a platform for such unsavory activity.

Ultimately, this lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms, but it shows that Hollywood is willing to go to great lengths in its battle against piracy. If lawyers can equate VPN use with truly heinous crimes like distributing child pornography or putting bomb threats in the minds of people and especially judges, it is very possible that VPNs will see their activities greatly restricted in the future.