Philippines’ leading media and entertainment company ABS-CBN Corp has filed a $5 million lawsuit in the Canadian Federal Court against a couple for copyright and trademark infringement of the company’s copyrighted works.
The lawsuit alleges that Ed Casinillo and Roxy Gonzales sold set-top boxes that were manually programmed by Casinillo to enable buyers to access ABS-CBN copyrighted movies and TV shows.
ABS-CBN’s AVP & Head of Global Anti-Piracy Elisha Lawrence said the two suspects were taking advantage of the company’s free 7-day trial of TFC.tv by registering over 223 emails and distributing the usernames and passwords to his customers.
“These customers were participating in this illegal activity by paying Casinillo and giving Casinillo access to their credit card information,” Lawrence said.
“Beware of these operations that are not licensed or affiliated in any way with ABS-CBN. We will continue to protect customers by shutting these operations down. There is only one genuine ABS-CBN internet subscription service and that is TFC and TFC.tv," Lawrence added.
David Lipkus, counsel for ABS-CBN in Canada, said, “The law in Canada is clear that providing services primarily for the purpose of enabling acts of copyright infringement is not allowed. ABS-CBN will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to stop the distribution of these unauthorized set-top boxes.
"ABS-CBN invests tremendous resources into its high-quality, original content, and will continue to ensure that Canadians have access to legitimate ABS-CBN content,” Lipkus said.
Meanwhile, 3,500 pirated DVDs of copyrighted ABS-CBN movies from Dragon Mart, Tina Shop and Unit 16B of Dragon Centre and Red Carpet Express of Oriental Centre in Toronto, Canada were surrendered to ABS-CBN representatives who attended with the Toronto Police Service on Thursday.
ABS-CBN earlier this month also had a "successful enforcement effort" with the confiscation of hundreds of pirated DVDs of ABS-CBN content from six stores in Montreal and Toronto.
“By now, I think pirates are aware that we are dead serious in implementing the zero tolerance policy of ABS-CBN COO Raffy Lopez when it comes to our anti-piracy efforts,” said ABS-CBN Canada Country Manager Jun Del Rosario.
“We will not let any scammer or pirate compromise the quality of our content, our distribution platforms and viewing experience, and our brand so that they can enrich themselves illegally. We will protect our property and aggressively pursue these criminals.”
The lawsuit comes in the wake of police in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China arrested owners and operators of a company that illegally programmed pirate IPTV boxes and marketed and sold them around the world under the “Filstream” brand.
Arrested and charged with copyright infringement by the Shenzhen Police last month were Alan Zhou and Roland Lu, the owners and operators of Shenzhen Welnavi Technology Co., LTD (“Shenzhen Welnavi”) factory.
Two senior programmers at the factory were also arrested and charged with copyright infringement with a maximum penalty of seven years in jail. Shenzhen Welnavi has been completely shut down.
All those arrested are expected to remain in custody pending trial, which is likely to take place next year. The Shenzhen police team conducted a raid of Shenzhen Welnavi on February 28, seizing the company’s servers and business records as part of the police team’s criminal investigation of the illegal distribution network.
The arrests in China were the culmination of an eight-month worldwide investigation spearheaded by the Philippine media and entertainment network ABS-CBN.
Lawrence had harsh words for Zhou and Lu. “I am glad to see them, and their distributors, being criminally pursued by every means under the law in China and the U.S. I am very grateful for the excellent work by the police in Shenzhen, China, Illinois and Florida. It is a global operation with an army of investigators throughout the world that helped us get the evidence to support the raids in China and the United States.”
Lawrence said that ABS-CBN plans to continue to enforce criminal and civil actions against anyone who steals its movies and TV shows and offers them via IPTV box, free websites or on Youtube, Daily Motion and Facebook.
“ABS-CBN spends millions of dollars each year producing these TV shows and movies and we will not allow these pirates to give them away for free,” Lawrence explained.
– ABS-CBN with agencies