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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?