Hollywood studios have often argued in court that Web sites hosing pirated clips infringe on copyright, but this week Warner Bros. and Disney tried a more unusual approach: They sued a company for allegedly enabling infringement by placing ads on sites with infringing clips.
The company, Scottsdale, Ariz.- based Triton Media, allegedly "materially contributed" to potentially unlawful sites by advising them about how to increase ad revenue and by providing ad referrals, according to the lawsuit.
That business is unrelated to Triton Digital Media LLC in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The complaint, which was filed this week in federal district court in Los Angeles, alleges that Triton of Scottsdale "has owned, operated, provided advertising consulting and referrals for, and/or provided other material assistance," to eight sites: www.free-tv-video-online.info, supernovatube.com, donogo.com, watch-movies.net, watch-movies-online.tv , watch-movies-links.net, havenvideo.com and thepiratecity.org.
At least some of those sites, which are described in the complaint as "one-stop shops for infringing material," allegedly allow users to search for and then stream copyrighted movies like "Ratatouille" and TV shows like "Smallville."
Scottsdale-based Triton allegedly is owned and operated by Tim Clow, who also allegedly operates the site Free-TV-Video-Online.Info. Court records show that Warner Bros. previously sued that company, but the case was stalled due to a recent report that Clow declared bankruptcy. Clow's attorney did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Warner and Disney allege that they informed Triton in December 2008 that the site Free-tv-video-online infringes on copyright, but that Triton did not remove links to pirated material from Free-tv-video-online.info or otherwise ensure that the site didn't infringe on copyright.