Streaming services have never been more ubiquitous and easy to use. But with different television shows and movies siloed in different programs, each charging a monthly fee, some viewers have gravitated toward services that promise everything, all at once.
Unfortunately, such convenient and economical options run afoul of copyright law. The programmers behind two popular services were indicted Tuesday in Alexandria, Virginia, federal court.
Eight Las Vegas residents operated the websites Jetflicks, according to prosecutors; one left to create a competing site called iStreamItAll. Both illegally downloaded tens of thousands of television episodes and offered them to users for a subscription fee, according to the indictment. The government says the loss to the copyright holders and licensed streaming services is in the millions of dollars.
The only connection to the Eastern District of Virginia is that several of the many users who paid to use the streaming services live in the area, including an undercover agent, and JetFlicks bought domain space from a company in Reston, Virginia.
While Jetflicks has been taken down, iStreamItAll's website is still live, offering nearly 4,000 series and over 10,000 movies. In January the company offered a $400 "lifetime account" on Facebook.
Both services advertised availability on legal streaming devices such as Amazon Fire Stick and Roku. But customers complained in online forums of unreliable service, and TechCrunch reported in 2017 that Roku began warning users that iStreamItAll was unauthorized and could be shut down at any time.
Jetflicks dates back to 2009; iStreamItAll started in 2014. Jetflicks got a "cease and desist" letter from the Motion Picture Association of America in 2012, but the investigation appears to have begun in 2017.
The eight defendants are Kristopher Lee Dallmann, 36; Darryl Julius Polo, 36; Douglas M. Courson, 59; Felipe Garcia, 37; Jared Edward Jaurequi, 38; Peter H. Huber, 61; Yoany Vaillant, 38; and Luis Angel Villarino, 40. All are charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, a crime that carried a punishment of up to five years in prison.
Dallmann and Polo, the alleged managers of Jetflicks and iStreamItAll, each face additional copyright infringement and money laundering charges that could put them in prison for many more decades.
Prosecutors said none of the defendants have been taken into custody in the case.
© The Washington Post 2019