US court finds file-hosting service Hotfile infringed copyright, says MPAA

Hotfile was sued by five studios for allegedly promoting and benefiting from copyright infringement

A U.S. federal court has found file-hosting website Hotfile liable for copyright infringement, according to movie industry body Motion Picture Association of America.

The US District Court for the Southern District of Florida also held that Hotfile's principal, Anton Titov, was personally liable for Hotfile's infringement, MPAA said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

"This case marked the first time that a US court has ruled on whether so-called cyberlockers like Hotfile can be held liable for their infringing business practices," it added.

The order was marked on online court records as "restricted/sealed until further notice." The opinion will be made public by the court in about two weeks, after confidential and proprietary information has been redacted, MPAA said.

Five U.S. movie studios filed a copyright infringement suit against Hotfile in 2011, alleging that the company paid incentives to those who uploaded popular files to the system, that were widely shared. Its affiliate program still offers payment "calculated based on a percentage of the total value of premium accounts purchased by users who download the affiliate's uploaded files."

The scheme gave incentives to users to upload popular copyright infringing content to lure users who would pay for premium accounts to access and download the files, according to the complaint by the studios. Hotfile offers downloads on a high-speed connection to holders of paid premium accounts, in contrast to slower download speeds and fewer downloads offered to free users.

"The more frequently the content is downloaded illegally, the more defendants pay the uploading user," the complaint said. Hotfile was also charged with paying websites that hosted and promoted links to infringing content on its servers.

The file-sharing site did not provide a searchable index of the files available for download from its website, and instead relied on "third-party pirate link sites" to host, organize and promote URL links to Hotfile-hosted infringing content, according to the complaint.

In a filing to the court in the civil suit, Hotfile said it is in full compliance with the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. "Hotfile and Mr. Titov run a legitimate business that fully complies with (and, indeed, embraces) the United States' copyright laws and the DMCA," it said. The terms of service and an intellectual property and rights policy published on its website explicitly prohibited copyright infringement, it added.

The website said it removes access when notified about files that allegedly infringe copyright, and has provided copyright holders, including the five studios, the "unfettered ability to remove access to files by directly commanding Hotfile's servers through special rightsholder accounts."

Hotfile in Panama could not be immediately reached for comment.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags copyrightinternetlegalintellectual propertyInternet-based applications and servicesMotion Picture Association of AmericaHotfile

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?