Before taking direct legal action against alleged copyright infringers, it helps if the identities of those people are known to the potential plaintiff. One method to obtain this information is to file an application for a DMCA subpoena.
Commonly filed against domain registries and Cloudflare, DMCA subpoenas can require such companies to give up the names of their allegedly-infringing customers, who are often the operators of ‘pirate’ sites. The process of obtaining a subpoena is attractive and relatively easy since the applications are rarely subjected to much scrutiny and can yield useful results.
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Last week adult company AMA Multimedia (better known for its Casting Couch X and various other brands) filed an application at a Washington court demanding that Cloudflare provide identifying information of customers said to have infringed the company’s copyrights.
According to AMA, it previously asked Cloudflare to remove or disable access to around three dozen URLs, mostly JPG images and direct content links, on domains including the 12 million visits per month Pornmilo.com and the 15 million visits per month HLSMP4.com. With that content apparently still intact, AMA asked the court for permission to demand information from Cloudflare to identify the alleged infringers.
“For the period January 1, 2016 through the present, produce all documents and account records that identify the person(s) or entities that caused the infringement of the material described in the attached Exhibit B DMCA notifications to the DMCA Agent for Cloudflare, Inc. and/or who unlawfully uploaded AMA Multimedia LLC’s copyrighted works at the URLs listed in the notifications, including but not limited to identification by names, email addresses, IP addresses, user history, posting history, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying information,” the subpoena to Cloudflare reads.
In respect of the phrase “person(s) or entities that caused the infringement”, that could mean the operators of the various listed domains – pornmilo.com, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz, hlsmp4.com, o0-1.com, o0-2.com, o0-3.com, o0-4.com, and o0-5.com. However, when it comes to identifying the underlying infringers, that could be more tricky.
When one visits Pornmilo.com, the platform gives the initial impression of being a YouTube-like site, presumably one that hosts its own content. On closer inspection, however, the site claims not to host any video content at all.
Indeed, it appears that the videos are embedded having been supplied by Fembed, a service that advertises itself as an “All-in-one Video Platform Designed by webmasters, for webmasters.” Essentially, people can host their video files on Fembed and serve them on another site, with or without revenue-generating advertising.
Fembed.com isn’t mentioned in the DMCA subpoena but it appears to be connected to HLSMP4.com, which is mentioned multiple times. Furthermore, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz and indeed all the other domains redirect to Fembed.com, so it’s possible that they have the same owners. AMA seem pretty keen to find out exactly who they are.
That being said, it is far from clear how Cloudflare itself can establish who uploaded the infringing content on HLSMP4, Fembed, and the other sites so it can hand that information to AMA. At this early stage that may not concern AMA too much and it’s possible that outcome is already being anticipated. Nevertheless, the DMCA subpoena has the ability to get closer to the targets in a cheap and relatively easy fashion.