Piracy Suit Against Tube Sites EmpFlix, TnAFlix Dismissed

Rhett Pardon

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Private Media Group last week lost a long-running copyright infringement battle against two of the largest adult tube sites, EmpFlix.com and TnAFlix.com.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Iowa granted a motion to dismiss for the operator of the pair of tube sites, YoungTek Solutions Ltd.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett ruled that because YoungTek does not have sufficient “minimum contacts” with Iowa or the U.S., the maintenance of the lawsuit would offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”

YoungTek of Cyprus asserted a jurisdictional defense in the two-year-old case, claiming it has no business in Iowa, where Private's Fraserside copyright division is incorporated.

Private attorney Chad Belville told XBIZ on Tuesday that company officials haven't yet decided whether to appeal the case, which asked for $11.3 million in damages.

"We are disappointed in this ruling and are now considering the various options," the company said in a statement. " We will continue our aggressive stance against piracy."

Private claimed in the copyright infringement suit that  YoungTek illegally streamed 75 of its videos on the sites. In addition to a multimillion-dollar award, Private was seeking to have EmpFlix.com and TnAFlix.com transferred to the adult entertainment company.

Private in its suit said that the defendant tube sites are powerhouses in the biz, with EmpFlix.com attracting 1.5 million surfers a day and TnAflix.com attracting 3 million, and that YoungTek generates "annual revenue estimated in tens of millions of dollars."

But Bennett in his ruling said that YoungTek’s aggregate number of contacts within the U.S. adds little to support the exercise of jurisdiction within the U.S.

"YoungTek has no offices in the U.S., no employees in the U.S., no telephone number in the U.S., and no agent for service of process in the U.S.," Bennett wrote. "No YoungTek officer or director has ever visited the U.S. YoungTek does not maintain any servers in the U.S."

The federal judge noted that Private offered no materials to buttress its assertion that YoungTek has made money from within the U.S. by offering premium memberships to its  websites.

Bennett also concluded that Private's website printouts handed to the court weren't properly authenticated.

Youngtek had challenged Private's assertion that 17 to 20 percent of the visitors to its websites are U.S. residents. The data was depicted in an unauthenticated screenshot from a third-party website, Bennett wrote.

"[Private's] utter lack of any evidentiary materials to support its assertions is particularly surprising since [Private's] submission comes after over six months of jurisdictional discovery," Bennett wrote.

It's not the first time Bennett has dismissed Private's claims over jurisdictional issues.

A $4.65 million suit involving DrTuber.com was dismissed by Bennett last year because Private could not establish jurisdiction over operator and Russian citizen Igor Kovalchuk. Bennett also made a similar ruling in another Private suit against Hammy Media over alleged infringement involving xHamster. Private, in that case, asked for $10.8 million in damages.

YoungTek attorneys Val Gurvits and Evan Fray-Witzer did not immediately respond for comment by XBIZ post time.

Meanwhile, just last month, Private settled with two companies that operate tube sites over piracy charges.

While the terms of the agreements haven't been disclosed, NetAdvertising settled with Private over a suit involving its HardSexTube.com tube site and Gamma Entertainment reached an agreement over content allegedly displayed on PornerBros.com.