The owner of two illegal streaming sites was fined $30 million by a group of the biggest movie and TV studios.
According to court documents filed on March 27, the studios and defendant Dwayne Johnson (no relation to the actor) reached a deal to end the lawsuit. The deal includes an injunction that prevents him from continuing to run any service that lets users steal movies.
In December 2021, Universal, Disney, and Netflix all sued Johnson for stealing their ideas. Others, like Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, and Apple, also joined the lawsuit.
The amount of piracy was “massive,” the complaint says. Johnson ran two services, AllAccessTV (AATV) and Quality Restreams, that sold subscriptions to copyrighted movies and TV shows, like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and The Office, through thousands of live channels and video-on-demand options. Users could watch major networks like HBO, Cinemax, and NBC through the live channel feed. Customers could put the platforms on their devices by downloading them.
The settlement comes at a time when studios and production companies are taking more and more people to court for violating their copyright by streaming content illegally. In September, Voltage Pictures and other owners of copyrights settled three lawsuits against internet service providers for not kicking out customers who pirated their movies over and over again. Copyright law is what intellectual property owners use most to fight illegal streaming.
Access to VOD was included in subscription plans for an extra $15 per month on top of the $25 base plan. It put content into many different categories, one of which was the streaming service where the movie or TV show was shown.
The suit said that Johnson knew what he was doing was wrong. It said that he was trying to hide his illegal business by using a website that looks like it sells VPN software but really sells subscriptions to his services. If copyright is broken on purpose, the owner can get statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work that was stolen.
The complaint says that Johnson made $3 million a year from AATV.