Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Legal P2P News & Issues, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
We follow up on the Oron case with news from a recent court hearing. As we’ve informed you the last time, Oron has been sued by the adult studio Liberty Media – representing Corbin Fisher – and now its owner is accused, besides copyright infringement, of money laundering via Hong Kong and converting roughly $3 million into gold bullion.
Back in June a lawsuit was filed by Corbin Fisher against Oron’s operators for no less than $34,8 million in copyright infringement. As such, a judge ruled that the cyberlocker must pay Liberty Media the least amount of $550,000.
While for some this may have looked like the end of it, recent events proved different. Last week Oron asked the court to unfreeze its assets (a total of $750,000, including the attorney’s fees), saying that they can pay through a US PayPal account, so there’s no reason to freeze more of theirs funds.
“Oron desires to file a post-judgment motion or motions in this Court, and if necessary an appeal in the Ninth Circuit. Oron requests that the Court stay execution on its judgment until after Oron’s post-judgment motions can be decided and after Oron has the opportunity to ask the Ninth Circuit to stay execution on the judgment.”
In addition, the portal’s lawyers asked the court to let them access $200,000 more for post-judgment motions and an appeal. As expected, the studio’s lawyers did not agree, arguing that a thorough breakdown is mandatory, while also pointing out that Oron failed to provide a detailed account of its overall assets.
Marc Randazza, representing the studios said:
“[Oron] has nearly three million dollars in gold stashed away. Presumably, if the Defendant needed money to run its business, it would liquidate or sell a portion of this bullion. It could presumably do the same to pay legal fees.”
“However, if it did so, it would be spending funds that were not traceable, and as a practical matter, were not likely to be seized.”
“This is presumably why the funds are laundered in this manner,” he went on.
“First the funds are collected through PayPal, then wired to Hong Kong, then converted to gold, and then they are stashed away, free from the eyes of judgment creditors and other authorities. In this case, Oron only wants to spend the money that it most easily stands to lose in this very case. Even if it were not sitting on nearly three million United States dollars in gold, Oron’s troubles would be self-inflicted.”
An interesting fact is that Mr. Randazza presented the court a copy of an e-mail he got (a tip) which included details about Oron’s presumed owner. Also, the tipster claims that Oron’s staff shut down their service on purpose so that they have a trump when in court.
“Their servers with data are still in LeaseWeb data center,” this anonymous individual explained. He also said that Oron’s owner has yet another website – Novafile.com.
“Oron has nine known accounts and a stash of gold bars. Nevertheless, Oron believes that this Court should only Order disbursements from the one U.S.-based account, the one account where this Court’s jurisdiction can have immediate effect,” Randazza concluded.
“If Oron needs $200,000, then it should use, or borrow against, the three million dollars worth of gold bars it has stashed away.”
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Legal P2P News & Issues, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
Anton Vickerman used to run Surfthechannel.com and was found guilty of “conspiracy to defraud” rather than copyright infringement. His website did not host the infringed content itself, but offered links to where illegal digital data may be found.
The case against Anton’s website started in 2008 when the attention of the MPAA and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) was caught by his portal. Both groups hired a private investigator who, in order to gain access to Vickerman’s home, posed as a potential home buyer.
Just a month after, police authorities arrested both Vickerman and his wife Kelly during a raid. Fortunately (if we can say that) for his wife, she was not found guilty.
According to the BBC, the website stayed online until May 2012 as Vickerman said that Surfthechannel.com belonged to someone else. On the other side, FACT claims that the website gathered around 400.000 unique visitors per day in 2009, thus bringing revenues of £35,000/month from advertising.
Head of the UK Pirate Party Loz Kaye said that the case was “deeply concerning, inappropriate and disproportionate”.
“The interest groups involved couldn’t present a case of copyright infringement and decided to press for the use of the common law offence of ‘conspiracy to defraud’ instead,” Kaye said.
“This offence is incredibly controversial in English law as it criminalises conduct by two or more parties that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.”
“A four year prison sentence is twice the maximum that could have been handed down if Vickers had been charged with online copyright infringement,” he added.
Furthermore, Kayle’s concerns are that this case was actually “driven by private interests”.
“It has been reported that the very groups representing the victim helped with the investigation, were present at the arrest, present at police interviews and given access to the evidence,” he said.
But according to FACT, the four-year sentence is just a result of how serious copyright infringement really is.
“Vickerman knew what he was doing from the outset, having been involved in the pirate community for some time,” FACT’s director general Kieron Sharp said.
“This was not a passive search engine. Surfthechannel was created specifically to make money from criminal activity and it became the biggest site of its kind on the internet within two years.”
“The sentencing indicates the severity of the offences committed and the sophistication of his criminal enterprise and should send a very strong message to those running similar sites that they can be found, arrested and end up in prison.”
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry, Legal P2P News & Issues, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
Las Vegas: The gay adult movie company Corbin Fisher has a reason to celebrate as a federal judge ruled that the file-locker website Oron.com, along with its operators, must pay at least $550,000 plus attorney’s fees.
Back in June Corbin Fisher (part of the Liberty Media adult studio) sued the operators of Oron.com for $34.8 million in damages, as the former facilitated copyright infringement of Liberty Media’s materials. Representing Liberty Media, lawyer Marc Randazza called Oron’s staff “criminals” who don’t deserve DMCA’s safe harbor.
At the beginning of July both parts tried to reach a settlement, but failed as the studio asked for much more than Oron was willing to offer.
“Despite the overwhelming evidence that there was never an agreement as to a settlement between the parties, plaintiff nevertheless has the temerity to move to enforce this settlement agreement and to move for attorneys fees,” Oron’s lawyers said at the time.
Meanwhile, Oron’s counsel Stevan Lieberman, aided by Las Vegas counsel David Kahn, laid personal attacks on Randazza:
“A brief Internet search suggests that plaintiff and its counsel have engaged in this type of conduct repeatedly and without shame.”
“Indeed, their conduct here appears to be typical of their approach to ‘litigation’ — trump up baseless claims of infringement against companies or individuals, seek to freeze their corporate victim funds where possible so as to force them out of business or threaten draconian financial sanctions against individuals, seek to freeze their corporate victim funds where possible so as to force them out of business or threaten draconian financial sanctions against individuals who plainly cannot afford to fight back, and slander and defame (or threaten to do so) their victim to their customers, and the Internet community at large, so as to either force a settlement or destroy their victim’s business entirely.”
On Tuesday U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled:
“There is nothing in the Settlement Letter that indicates that Defendant did not intend to be presently bound by the proposed terms or that a future writing was required.”
“The requirement for the Plaintiff’s attorney to sign and return indicates that the parties do agree that all these terms are acceptable and binding. If this was only a proposal of terms there probably would not be a requirement for Plaintiff’s counsel to sign and return.”
“The Settlement Letter written by Defendant was an offer, accepted by Plaintiff when its counsel signed the letter. There was a meeting of the minds as to all material terms on July 5, 2012, when Plaintiff agreed that the settlement would include dismissal with prejudice of [alleged owner and operator of Oron] Mr. Bochenko,” the judge wrote.
“There settlement includes valuable consideration on the part of both Plaintiff and Defendant. In this case, the Court can compel compliance because there are no uncertain material terms that remain. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff’s Motion to Enforce Settlement.”
The previous week Oron made a disappearing act after it received a temporary restraining order and had its assets seized, except for $100,000 for business expenses.
The settlement, as court papers show, looks like this:
1. Oron pays Liberty Media $550,000.
8. Once payment is received by both parties, both proceedings in NV and HK will be
dismissed with prejudice, and in the event that Oron breaks any part of the deal, the
claims may be reinstated via arbitration after a 30 day “notice and cure” period.
. . .
12. Liberty agree to announce publicly that after a careful review of the facts they
believe Oron is protected by the DMCA safe harbor and that a review of the actual files
shows that there never was any child porn on Oron’s site.
. . .
14. Liberty will immediately, once the terms of the agreement are agreed to issue a
letter asking that the HK bank accounts be unfrozen allowing the payment to the
Randazza Trust and then to [former Oron webhosting provider] Leaseweb as well as send a letter to Leaseweb asking them to allow Oron ten (10) days to pay as the settlement of the matter is imminent.
There are at least 19 points to the settlement agreement so as can be seen from the numbering scheme on the items above a significant number are missing from court papers. As previously revealed, Oron were prepared to hand over the identities of its allegedly copyright infringing customers to Liberty and help the studio take legal action against them.
But while the enforcement of the settlement allows Oron to continue with its business in theory, problems remain. Firstly, Oron’s parent company accounts are still frozen, “in order to satisfy any fee award, which may be sought by Plaintiff, but which must be brought within thirty (30) days of this Order.”
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Legal P2P News & Issues
In our previous article we’ve explained how Kim Dotcom – founder of the former Megaupload website – took the witness stand, explaining about the events of that fatidic day when police authorities, in an overzealous manner, raided his mansion. Footage of what happened that day became available.
The overwhelming display of force – including the helicopters, the armed with semi-automatic weapons anti-terror force (Special Tactics Group), the FBI agents in the background – at Kim Dotcom’s mansion finally takes shape.
On January 20, 2012, at 6.46 am the raid began. As the helicopter was carrying members of the elite special tactics group, someone says on the radio:
“Ground units, Gates are open.”
After the aircraft circled the property, a police voice recorded conversation reveals:
“I need two guards working, one at the gate and one roaming,” it said.
“Main entry into the bedroom of the target, door’s closed, slammed and had a security lock on it, we’ve breached it. Moved through, he’s done a runner, can’t find him in either the studio or bedroom.”
What was Kim Dotcom doing at the time?
“I was on my bed, once the banging started, I pressed an alarm button that is situated right at my bed which was installed in case of an emergency. When I press that it automatically sends a signal to all security guards including Mr [Wayne] Tempero’s room including SMSs to everybody informing them there is an alert. Then I stood up from the bed and made my way to the red room,” he told the High Court of Auckland.
“I was sitting in front of that pillar in the room and heard loud banging noises, I was scared and worried.”
As the house was being secured, everyone at the scene was accounted for and contained.
“We have five Philippine females and three children,” the police radio said.
At 7.11 am police managed to have Dotcom constrained.
As for the equipment worn by the elite tactic group that day, here’s what a member of the STG told the court:
“A gun belt which had my secondary weapon, a police issued glock pistol on the right hand side, and additional magazines on the left and my primary weapon which is a Colt CommandoM4 556 weapon.”
“We wanted to match the threat level, in this case a low threat with our dress,” he said.
“We made that conscious decision not to wear full tactical kit.”
Dotcom’s lawyer asked the elite officer how was Dotcom handled. He stated:
“Yes there was deliberate force applied.”
“Primary objective: secure suspect as soon as possible to prevent destruction of evidence,” the elite officer told the court.
However, it would have been impossible for Dotcom to hide or destroy any evidence as the FBI supposedly seized Megaupload’s servers prior to the raid.
“All of that is so invalid and really angers me because you know the FBI was already in the data centre disabling access to the data they feared we would manipulate. So primary to you arriving there was no chance for anyone to do anything with that evidence,” Dotcom said.
You can watch the video here.
A hearing at the High Court of Auckland took place today and is scheduled to go on for three days. Why? Not only Kim is trying to get some of his assets back – those which are not relevant to the case – but his lawyers also follow a court ruling which stated that the search warrants used to raid his mansion were invalid.
At the witness stand Dotcom told the court that while the raid was just about to commence he was installing a Windows update when he heard a helicopter outside. At first he believed that some guests arrived to celebrate his birthday, but events that day proved to be something else entirely.
“I heard loud banging noises. I was just scared and worried. I thought I’d better wait for them to come to me rather than popping out and scaring someone who might shoot me,” Kim said.
“If someone had knocked on our door and said we have a document here with charges I would have let them in because I had no expectation that anything like this could ever occur.”
Furthermore, it looks like the police was following him for some time that very day and could have arrested him after he left the music studio in the morning.
“If I was the police, I would have done it that way.”
Getting back to the action, Dotcom said that while in the “red room” he indeed had access to a firearm, but that the first two rounds were rubber bullets. However, when the police went inside, his stance was one of “surrender”, but that didn’t stop the authorities to use force.
“And then they were all over me. I had a punch to the face, boots kicking me down to the floor, a knee to the ribs. One man was standing on my hand,” he said, also adding that his wrists were tied with a cable.
“It was really tight. I was screaming,” he said.
Police’s brutality was completely unnecessary, he said.
“If someone had knocked on the door and said they had a document with charges I would have let them in.”
The three-day long hearing will also take statements from New Zealand’s Special Tactics Group – the elite anti-terror force that conducted the raid. Also, CCTV footage captured at his mansion is to be scrutinized. However, according to Stuff.nz New Zealand’s prosecutors are trying to conceal the footage, but a transcript of police-recorded audio may be allowed.