The Israeli police, with help from the ALIS copyright enforcing group, have recently raided a group of Hebrew subtitling fanatics temporarily shutting down their service. Qsubs is the name of a website where movie watchers could download Hebrew subtitles for a wide range of English films. After the raid, three of the site users, identified as website admins, were ordered to pay a $264,000 fine and issue a public apology.
Why? Mainly because writing a movie subtitle is against the law. Downloading it is not. Because movie subtitles are often used to watch pirated Hollywood movies, people forget that movie studios themselves issue their own subtitles for people with hearing problems, or people from foreign countries.
So, why would someone like ALIS (Israeli version of the MPAA
– Motion Picture Association of America) sue some kids that translate a movie? Because all movies are based on a script that is subjected itself to copyright laws, so by simply translating a text without the author's notice or permission, you're breaking the law.
In the end, this means that the Qsubs subtitlers are as in big of a trouble as the people that have filmed a movie inside a theater, shared it on a tracker or have built the tracker itself. And because the group that has gone after them is ALIS, they are in a real tight spot. Previously, in 2007 ALIS assisted police members in raiding another three subtitling websites (Donkey, xvoom, MYakuza), later reaching legal settlements with two of them and taking legal action against a third.
Because the Qsubs website featured a heavy dose of movie artwork and screenshots, ALIS is poised to have a day in court if it gets to that point. Meanwhile, Qsubs is surely willing to reach a settlement before the case goes beyond a point of no return.
Soon after the incident, the Qsubs website started displaying this message, being temporarily down, “This account has been suspended. Either the domain has been overused, or the reseller ran out of resources.”