Let's just get this out of the way immediately: Never, ever, miss the chance to defend yourself if you're being accused of piracy. Regardless of whether you're guilty to some degree, plaintiffs have consistently shown that they believe any infringement upon their content to be worth millions of dollars. This public service announcement is unfortunately far too late for Anwar Ogiste of Maryland, as a federal judge has already awarded a default judgment of $1.5 million to adult company Flava Works. Ogiste's crime? Sharing seven porn videos.
The way in which damages are calculated in piracy cases has long been known to be ridiculously inflated, but that hasn't stopped them from being applied haphazardly. Media companies often try to through the book at any pirates they think they might actually win against. If they do win, they can then use the judgment like a cudgel in their continued attempts to cow other illegal downloaders into settling. For example, Flava Works, an adult entertainment company, has just been awarded a grand total of $1.5 million in damages from defendant Kywan Fisher. That's the maximum possible, and sets the record for largest damages ever awarded in a BitTorrent case.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a site that embeds copyrighted videos from another site is not committing copyright infringement. The court case between Flava Works, Inc. and myVidster.com came to a close after this ruling was passed in favor of the defendant, myVidster. The court also ruled that watching an infringing video does not constitute copyright infringement.