I was wondering how long it would be before this tactic would succeed but according to Kit Eaton at Fast Company two Hollywood giants have scored a major win against Triton Media and set a huge precedent in the courts in the process.
The tactic in question is what is referred to as contributory infringement and inducement to infringe and it was the argument used by lawyers for Disney and Warner Bros. in their lawsuit against Triton Media, a web advertiser. The basis of the argument is that by providing ads to sites that primarily exist to stream video without paying any licencing fees Triton Media was contributing to copyright abuse, or at least that is how the argument goes.
The damages are levied against Triton Media, which the courts have thus found guilty of “contributory copyright infringement” and “inducement to infringe.” Triton’s crime is an odd one: Providing a web ads facility to websites including free-tv-video-online.info and watch-movies.net. These sites, part of a longer list, are accused of illegally providing streaming access to content that they haven’t licensed from the content owners–the latest bane in the life of Hollywood studios and TV companies the world over. Their business model is simple: At low cost to themselves they provide a point of access to someone else’s popular TV show or movie, their viewers are attracted by the big-name shows available and the fact they don’t have to pay. In-page ads return a small revenue stream to the site owners, much as they do for pretty much every other web site out there.
So the big unanswered question in the room now is – given that the vast majority of pirate type sites run Google AdSense will Big Media have enough of a precedent, and backbone, with this win against Triton Media to go after Google?