Hotfile Lawsuit: File-Sharing Site Shut Down Over Pirated Films

Wednesday, 04 Dec 2013 05:07 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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The file-sharing website Hotfile will pay $80 million to Hollywood movie studios in a high-profile legal battle against copyright piracy online.

The judgment by Miami U.S. District Kathleen Williams included that Hotfile be shut down within 20 days unless the website uses "state-of-the-art content identification and filtering technology" to stop pirated movies from being uploaded, wrote The Associated Press.

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"As a result of a United States federal court having found Hotfile.com to be in violation of copyright law, the site has been permanently shut down," a message on Hotfile.com's site read Wednesday. "If you are looking for your favorite movies or TV shows online, there are more ways than ever today to get high quality access to them on legal platforms."

The Motion Picture Association of America accused Hotfile of allowing its customers to repeatedly violate copyright laws, saying that the online service was "more egregious" than Napster and Limewire and "indistinguishable" from Megaupload, wrote The Hollywood Reporter.

Williams said in the judgment that "the extent of infringement by Hotfile's users was staggering," wrote The Hollywood Reporter.

"This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone," MPAA's chairman and CEO Chris Dodd stated in a news release posted Tuesday. "Sites like Hotfile that illegally profit off of the creativity and hard work of others do a serious disservice to audiences, who deserve high quality, legitimate viewing experiences online."

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Hotfile sought protection under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Williams, though, said the company never adequately addressed piracy issues, THR noted.

Williams wrote that while Hotfile received 8 million infringement notices for 5 million users, it had only terminated 43 customer accounts before the lawsuit, per The Hollywood Reporter.

"Aside from infringement notices, Hotfile had no alternative method for preventing repeat infringements by its users," Williams noted, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Williams said that "while Hotfile may have a difficult time explaining its 'innocence' to a jury," there needed to be further discussion about Hotfile's knowledge, intentions, and actions.

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