Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield, of the Hawaii District Court, has recommended the denial of the default judgment of $150,000 against defendant Nghi Phan Nhat. The Vietnamese man allegedly operates the APK hosting platform "apkmirrordownload.com," which used to distribute Showbox and Popcorn Time Android packages. The plaintiff who asked for the default judgment was Hunter Killer Productions Inc., complaining about how the APK platform shared piracy-enabling software that made it easy for many thousands to consume content illegally. The plaintiff is the owner of the rights for the movies The Hitman’s Bodyguard, London Has Fallen, and Hunter Killer, and has been involved in hunting pirates on the courts of law for quite a while now.
The filmmaker is represented by Kerry S. Culpepper, an expert in the field with many recent successes. However, it looks like the move against apkmirrordownload.com won’t yield the desired results after all. As the judge points out, the plaintiffs argue that the defendant’s conduct constitutes purposeful direction, but they fail to prove it, relying solely on conclusory arguments. The court finds that the website’s electronic activity wasn’t aimed at the United States and that presenting the use of the English language as a proof is not enough to establish personal jurisdiction.
The case was submitted on the court back in September, and the defendant never appeared to answer any questions. Usually, these cases end up with a favorable result for the plaintiffs, and maybe this is why the Culpepper team didn’t bother to prepare a compelling folder to support their case. What this means is that not only the plaintiff won’t get their $150,000 default judgment, but the APK platform will also remain online and accessible from the United States. The infringing APKs have already been removed, but the court’s decision may create a dangerous judiciary precedent for the film studios.
This amount is the exact same that the owner of the "latestshowboxapp.com" website agreed to pay to Hunter Killer Productions Inc. back in August. Back then, the owner told the Hawaii Federal Court that he wasn’t aware of the illegal nature of the Showbox app and that he hadn’t realized that he was facilitating piracy. How much of this has been paid, and whether or not this latest development will affect the previous case remains to be seen. The Show Box content distribution platform has been shut down since last year anyway, so we’re merely dealing with the aftermath here.