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RIAA seeks $22 million in damages from MP3Skull

By | Published on Tuesday 6 October 2015


The US record industry has asked for a summary judgement in its favour in its latest piracy battle, this one against the website MP3Skull.

The Recording Industry Association Of America went legal against the piracy site earlier this year, but so far no one associated with MP3Skull has responded, hence the request for summary judgement. The major labels are now seeking $22 million in damages plus an injunction preventing domain registrars and registries from working with the site.

In its motion to the court, the record industry says: “Defendants designed, promote, support and maintain the MP3Skull website for the well-known, express and overarching purpose of reproducing, distributing, performing and otherwise exploiting unlimited copies of plaintiffs’ sound recordings without any authorisation or license. By providing to the public the fruits of plaintiffs’ investment of money, labour and expertise, MP3Skull has become one of the most notorious pirate websites in the world”.

The $22 million has been calculated by multiplying the 148 tracks specifically listing as having been infringed in the RIAA litigation by the maximum statutory damages allowed under US law for copyright infringement, $150,000.

Of course, it’s always a tricky business getting damages out of full-on piracy outfits, which usually operate on limited means, unless they happen to be sitting on a pile of cash from ad networks, subscriptions or donations. Therefore the injunction element of the summary judgement request, preventing domain registrars and registries from working with the site, is arguably more important, the aim being to knock the site off the net.

As previously reported, web-block injunctions against internet service providers are not available in the US, and a recent attempt by the movie industry to secure such a thing as part of an anti-piracy lawsuit resulted in a mini-controversy, leading to Hollywood removing that element of its litigation.

But there is precedent for seizing the domains of piracy operations in the US, so an injunction simply demanding that domain firms not work with MP3Skull is less likely to result in controversy. Though obviously the injunction only really has power in the US, and piracy operations are generally adept these days in finding registries well beyond the jurisdiction of US and European courts to register their domains.

All that said, while MP3Skull has been a significant piracy operation in recent years, its user base does seem to be waning because of various anti-piracy efforts against the site.