Amazon, Netflix, And Major Hollywood Studios File Massive Suit Against Rogue Copyright Infringer Jason Tusa

Contributing Author: Bryan Sullivan

In the summer of 2020, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment shut down illegal pirate streaming network Area 51. The event was allegedly accompanied by a settlement agreement that the operator of Area 51 could not launch any new copyright infringing services. However, in a new lawsuit just filed, Amazon, Netflix, and a group of prominent Hollywood studios allege that the agreement over the shutdown of Area 51 has been breached several times over by a rogue serial copyright infringer named Jason Tusa.

The massive copyright infringement and breach of contract lawsuit filed on July 6, 2021, by Amazon, Netflix, and studios including Warner Brothers, Universal, Sony, Columbia, Disney, and Paramount alleges how, in the months following the shutdown of Area 51, Tusa rebranded and rebuilt his streaming service platform three additional times under three new names, all of which infringed copyrights owned by the plaintiffs. These rebranded platforms include Singularity Media, Digital Unicorn Media, and Tusa’s latest allegedly infringing streaming endeavor Altered Carbon. Each new iteration has exploited the copyrighted works of networks and studios alike, with a list of hundreds of familiar titles that have been infringed upon.

According to the lawsuit, Tusa’s business model is simple: for a nominal subscription fee, most recently to Altered Carbon, he provides his subscribers with an internet protocol television (IPTV) service that includes offerings from major broadcast networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, cable channels such as BET, SyFy, USA Network, and premium channels HBO and Showtime, among others. Subscribers access the copyright infringing content through Altered Carbon applications that download directly onto smart TVs, computers, and mobile devices, as well as via a web portal. As alleged, because none of the content is properly licensed, Tusa keeps subscription prices low and does not have to pay the plaintiffs any license fees for exploiting their copyrights. So, the plaintiffs allege, Tusa benefits from an unfair advantage on the competition. According to the plaintiffs, previously reached settlements demonstrate conclusively that Tusa is well aware that he lacks the licenses to share these works, and he has even formally agreed to stop this conduct in the past—yet the existence of the latest platform Altered Carbon demonstrates how his infringing conduct has knowingly continued with no intent on stopping.

Tusa apparently is no stranger to streaming unauthorized content on a massive scale—Area 51 reportedly received nearly three million visits during its last year of operation. The threat of a repeat performance for Altered Carbon has the plaintiffs in this latest lawsuit aiming to stop his illegal behaviors once and for all.

How do Amazon, Netflix and this contingent of major Hollywood studios know that Tusa is behind Altered Carbon? For starters, the Altered Carbon app uses the same logo as Digital Unicorn Media service, one of Tusa’s prior IPTV platforms. The complaint also notes that an Altered Carbon group posts messages about the service on the messaging platform Telegram in which Tusa refers to Altered Carbon using his personal username. The profile picture for the group also happens to be a unique illustration of a serpent that matches a similar serpent captured in photographs posted to Tusa’s public social media accounts.

Tusa’s actions are described in the lawsuit as a “well-practiced pattern of deception.” In previous cases seeking the cessation of Tusa’s illegal streaming services, he has appeared to cooperate and shut down. He has even signed an agreement acknowledging that he will “forever stop his infringing conduct.” And yet Tusa has been bold enough to rebrand and relocate his infringing operation three times in a matter of months, including once while settlement negotiations were ongoing, and twice after agreeing not to launch another infringing service.

Tusa now faces significant repercussions for his actions. The lawsuit takes aim at him personally for direct copyright infringement, knowingly and materially contributing to the infringement of copyrighted works, intentional copyright infringement, and breach of contract. Amazon, Netflix and the Hollywood studios are demanding preliminary and permanent injunctions to shut down Tusa’s streaming services once and for all. The studios also want Altered Carbon’s domains to be handed over to them and are demanding that Tusa’s hardware be impounded along with any documents related to the infringement of their rights. And the ramifications of his latest streaming enterprise could be costly: for intentionally inducing the infringement of the copyrighted works, Tusa faces statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work. With approximately 100 works listed in the complaint, that totals $15 million and there may be other works that can be identified after the plaintiffs obtain discovery.

Copyright infringement is a clear violation of rights, and these major entertainment industry players are no stranger to the legal fortitude necessary to bring such violations to a screeching halt. In 2018, in the case Set TV v. Amazon, Disney, Sony, Netflix, many of the same plaintiffs suing Tusa were awarded a multi-million dollar judgment against the streaming service Set TV for copyright infringement. In 2020, another group of entertainment powerhouses including Disney, Netflix, and Paramount sued streaming service Crystal Clear Media for infringement upon their rights, resulting in a $40 million settlement in their favor.

As the lawsuit makes clear, Jason Tusa is a “serial mass infringer.” His history with unauthorized streaming services and the resulting litigation shows that he is aware of the illegality of unauthorized IPTV platforms. Despite a prior written agreement to stop launching these services, he has created his fourth such platform, Altered Carbon, and continues to exploit copyrighted works. Now, he will face a powerful group of entertainment industry titans aiming to see to it that, with the help of the courts, he is put to a stop—and there likely will be no settlement given the history outlined in the complaint. However, if everything in the complaint about Tusa is true, then this civil lawsuit may not stop him and it’s possible that only a criminal prosecution for copyright infringement under 18 U.S.C. Section 2319 with penalties of 5 years in prison will.

Legal Entertainment has reached out for comment to the representatives listed in the complaint, but has not received comments at the time of publication. We will update this story to include comments from either party when we receive them.


Bryan Sullivan, Partner at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae, advises and represents his clients as a legal strategist in all their business affairs. He has significant experience on the litigation and appeals side of the practice, as well as with entertainment and intellectual property contracts, investment and financing agreements, and corporate structure documents on the dealmaking side.

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