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Stream-ripping case could be put on hold pending petition to US Supreme Court

By | Published on Monday 21 September 2020


The Russian owner of stream-ripping sites and has asked a court in Virginia to put his ongoing legal battle with the record industry on hold while he petitions the US Supreme Court about the case.

Stream-ripping sites – which allow people to turn temporary streams into permanent downloads – have been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for some time, of course. And, as a new report from PRS confirmed last week, from a music industry perspective the use of such sites remains a key concern.

With that in mind, for a few years now the record companies have been suing or threatening to sue various popular stream-ripping set-ups, the aim being to force the closure of those sites. And in most cases that’s been successful.

However, Tofig Kurbanov – operator of Russia-based and – fought back when his websites were sued for copyright infringement by the American record industry.

And at first instance he successfully got the labels’ lawsuit dismissed on jurisdiction grounds, on the basis that his Russian websites had no direct business dealings with the US, even though Americans used those sites to illegally stream-rip content.

The labels then took the case to the Fourth Circuit appeals court which overturned the lower court’s ruling. The appeal judges listed various reasons why it could be deemed that and were actively trading in the US even though the websites are formally based in Russia and don’t require any sign-up from users.

After the appeals court declined to reconsider the case en banc – so with more judges involved – legal reps for Kurbanov confirmed they were considering taking the matter to the US Supreme Court. At the time they told Torrentfreak: “The Supreme Court has not yet decided a case concerning personal jurisdiction based on internet contacts and we think this case would be a good opportunity for the court to address the issue head-on”.

Last week it was confirmed that Team Kurbanov are indeed taking the dispute to America’s highest court. That confirmation came via filings back with the court that originally heard the case. Following the Fourth Circuit ruling on jurisdiction, the labels’ lawsuit returned to the lower court where the so called ‘discovery process’ in the case is now due to get underway.

However, the Kurbanov side have requested that the judge put any proceedings in his court in relation to the case on hold pending the outcome of their petition to the Supreme Court.

Their recent court filing stated: “Mr Kurbanov, a Russian national and citizen, who has never set foot in the United States, has a right to challenge this court’s exercise of jurisdiction over him as violative of the Due Process Clause. And, of course, with that comes his right to be free from the expensive and onerous discovery obligations inherent in US litigation”.

It remains to be seen how the lower court responds. Meanwhile, Kurbanov is expected to formally petition the Supreme Court later this month.