Four on trial in Spain over piracy for site streaming films and series

The former administrators of three pirate film and series sites that became hugely popular went on trial Monday in Spain where they risk jail for violating intellectual property rights.

Four on trial in Spain over piracy for site streaming films and series
Photo: Netflix

One association of audiovisual producers has estimated the damages they caused to rights holders at more than €500 million ($560 million).

The three websites concerned are and — “series junkies”, “film junkies” and “video junkies” in English.

Created in 2008 by an intern at the University of Murcia in Spain's southeast, they became hugely popular in the Spanish-speaking world.   

The trial comes after Spain earlier this year adopted a reform easing the closure of sites that violated intellectual property rights more than once.   

Prosecutors say the websites “gave internet users access to audiovisual material protected by intellectual property rights”, providing weblinks to online users where they could watch or download films and series for free.   

The founder, identified only as A.G. by prosecutors, earned money from advertising on the sites used by many in Spain and Latin America.   

In a court document, prosecutors said the founder started the websites “for profit and knowing the activity was illicit”.   

In April 2010, the founder sold the sites' domain names for €610,000 to three investors who are also on trial, say prosecutors.   

Sold again in 2014, the three websites stopped providing links to illegal content.

Prosecutors are seeking a two-year jail sentence and a fine of around €4,000 euros for the four defendants, as well as the closure of the sites and compensation for two associations of rights holders and producers.

In 2016, a court ordered the closure of another Spanish website, football streaming site Rojadirecta.

It ruled it had breached the intellectual property of audiovisual groups that own the rights to broadcasting sporting competitions.

READ ALSO: Six Spanish Netflix Series you need to see right now

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Berlinale to host outdoor festival for film fans in June

Organisers of the Berlin film festival said Monday that pandemic conditions in the German capital had improved enough for them to hold a planned outdoor edition in June.

Berlinale to host outdoor festival for film fans in June
An empty area outside the Berlinale Palast in March 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

The coronavirus outbreak forced the Berlinale, one of Europe’s top cinema showcases, to push back its usual February event and split it into two parts.

It held an all-online edition for critics and industry buyers in March and will now press on with an exclusively outdoor festival for the general public June 9th-20th.

“The Berlinale is pleased to be able to give audiences the enjoyment of an open-air cinema experience at 16 venues in total at the Summer Special,” it said in a statement.

It said Berlin’s falling infection rate “as well as positive signals by government offices” had led to the decision.

“Audiences will be getting a very special, collective festival experience – something we’ve all been missing for such a long time,” organisers said.

The June edition “is geared towards re-igniting the desire to go to the cinema, and to contributing to the revival of cultural activities with an audience”.

READ ALSO: Germany holds virtual Berlinale film fest

The programme will be made up primarily of movies shown online at the March edition, including the winners of its Golden and Silver Bear prizes, which will be awarded at a gala ceremony on June 13th.

Existing open-air cinemas throughout the city as well as a specially created site on Berlin’s historic Museum Island will serve as venues and comply with pandemic hygiene rules.

Ticket sales will begin on May 27th.

The global coronavirus outbreak has dealt a body blow to the cinema industry and created major complications for film distribution and production for over a year.

Cannes, the world’s top film festival, usually held in May, has been postponed to July 6-17 this year due to the pandemic and was cancelled outright last year.

The Berlinale, now in its 71st year, awarded its Golden Bear top prize in March to the biting social satire “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” by Romania’s Radu Jude.

The city of Berlin on Monday reported a seven-day coronavirus incidence just over the 100-mark, meaning cinemas, restaurants and other facilities remain closed.

However, officials are hopeful that an accelerating vaccination campaign and tightened lockdown measures will bring infections down soon, allowing for an at least partial reopening.