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Studios Withdraw Injunction Request in MovieTube Lawsuit

Major movie studios say they are withdrawing a request for a preliminary injunction against MovieTube, a legal maneuver that stirred tech firms’ objections as too sweeping.

The studios, however, say they have good reason to drop their effort to shut down MovieTube: The streaming service, accused of trafficking in infringing movies and TV shows, has already shut down.

The studios will still seek a permanent injunction, but they are expected to drop their request that search engines, Web hosts, social-networking services and other third parties cease any ties to MovieTube.

Earlier this month, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo weighed in with an amicus brief that called the studios’ original request overly broad, subjecting them to court-ordered action even though they are a neutral party. The tech firms suggested that the studios’ request amounted to an effort to revive elements of the Stop Online Piracy Act, the anti-piracy legislation that was abandoned in 2012 after an online protest.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty, the studios’ attorney, G. Roxanne Elings, wrote that, given that they were withdrawing the preliminary injunction, the tech firms’ arguments are “not ripe for consideration and are otherwise inapplicable.”

“To the extent Amici are requesting what amounts to an advisory opinion, such a request is improper and should not be entertained,” she wrote.

The fight against online piracy has proven to be a hydra head — sites shut down; others pop up in their place. That’s why there’s a good chance that studios will seek this type of injunction in another case.

Studios are also likely to counter that injunctions that involve third parties are not out of the ordinary, as they have been issued by judges in trademark cases and last year in the case of the piracy of “Expendables 3.” U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow issued a preliminary injunction barring any services to a series of domain names connected to file-sharing of the movie. Those services included hosting and links, and required financial services firms and advertising services to cut off any money going to the sites.

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