After being targeted by massive legal action in 2017, TVAddons founder Adam Lackman is still hoping to put up a fight against several major Canadian media companies. The huge costs incurred so far are proving crippling and with bankruptcy always just round the corner, defeat by default is rarely far away. It’s a scenario that’s all too familiar to Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde.
TVAddons was once the go-to place for the vast majority of Kodi addons, regardless of who authored them or how they were ultimately used.
Visitors to the platform today, which is still doing relatively well, find a much more sober operation, with listed addons carefully vetted, to weed out any that might help end-users breach copyright law.
This current mode of business is the result of two punishing lawsuits, one filed against founder Adam Lackman in the US by DISH Networks and the other in Canada. While the former was settled in 2018, the latter – filed by media giants Bell Canada, TVA, Videotron, and Rogers – is very much alive.
Progression in the lawsuit appears glacial with an end nowhere in sight. This week Lackman informed TorrentFreak that the companies don’t appear to be in a mood to settle as DISH had done before them. As a result, every legal twist and turn contributes to the mountain of debt Lackman says he’s struggling beneath.
At several points since the case began, Lackman has turned to TVAddons‘ users and other supporters to help raise funds. He believes it’s worth putting up a fight but the Canadian is clearly facing an uphill battle.
Unable to bankroll him any further, his original legal team quit, leaving him with two separate bills of CAD$83,991 and CAD$38,989 to settle before he can move on.
“I was lucky enough to find my original lawyers, however their firms couldn’t handle devoting the time needed unless they were to be paid in full within a timely manner. They couldn’t afford to ignore other business while defending my case on credit,” he explains.
In his latest fundraising effort, launched this week, he’s seeking a total of CAD$171,981 – an amount which includes close to CAD$50,000 to cover some of the plaintiffs’ legal fees, previously awarded to them by the court.
If Lackman raises the full amount anytime soon, he will only break even, leaving him to raise additional funds to continue the fight. Even then, it appears that future battles will have to take place supported by a relatively tight budget.
“As of now I am acting in my own defense, with the help of some legal experts in the background,” he told us recently. “I am looking for new potential representation, but regardless the current debt is not one that I can comfortably carry.
“By defending myself, I hope to avoid incurring too much additional debt. I’m obviously not capable of doing all the paperwork on my own, so I’m getting help with that. I’m hoping that the court recognizes this and protects my right to a fair trial in the process.”
Given the scale of the debt and Lackman’s apparent inability to pay, he says the specter of bankruptcy is never far away. He seems keen to avoid that, not least since his adversaries would achieve an immediate victory.
“I could easily go into bankruptcy right now, but then the plaintiffs would win by default. I feel the fight is too important, and my defense is too strong, to give up now,” he says.
However complicated and expensive the case has become, Lackman believes that he has the law on his side. While TVAddons indexed code that could scrape external sources for content, he insists that the site never hosted or directly linked to any infringing material.
But more importantly, Lackman says, the companies suing him and/or their affiliates never sent the platform a takedown notice before taking action, something he describes as a “prerequisite to their claim being eligible for damages.”
While that assertion may yet prove correct, having that definitively determined by a court of law is proving a supremely costly endeavor. Lackman is working under the assumption that the plaintiffs are trying to break him financially, a theory supported by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde.
“To this day the copyright cartels are still suing people for anything they dislike,” he wrote on Twitter this week, commenting on the TVAddons case.
“It’s a mob using bullying methods, trying to force people into bankruptcy so they can’t defend themselves and thus the cartel wins on financial walkover.”
Whether that doomsday scenario will play out in Lackman’s case seems wholely dependent on whether people donate to his latest and future fundraisers. At the time of writing, he’s just $2,471 closer to his $171,981 goal.
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