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Hotfile Liable for Copyright Infringement

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HotfileCyberlocker Hotfile has been found liable for copyright infringement, according to a statement released by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Ars Tecnica reports that the judgment of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida will be sealed for two weeks, but based on the MPAA’s statement, the Panama-based online file-sharing service was “Most likely . . . found liable on secondary infringement, as its direct copyright infringement allegations were tossed aside in July 2011 by the federal judge in the case.”

Hotfile had argued that it was protected from copyright infringement claims under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The company also claimed it had no vicarious liability for its users’ action, but it seems that part of the argument may not have convinced the judge in the case.

The MPAA’s statement included the following quote from former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), the organization’s CEO and chairman:

“We applaud the court for recognizing that Hotfile was not simply a storage locker but an entire business model built on mass distribution of stolen content. Today’s decision is a victory for all of the men and women who work hard to create our favorite movies and TV shows, and it’s a victory for audiences who deserve to feel confident that the content they’re watching online is high-quality, legitimate, and secure.”

As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, the MPAA has proclaimed this to be “the first time that a US court has ruled that a cyberlocker can be held liable for copyright infringement.”

Hotfile has not yet commented publicly about the decision, and the MPAA has maintained that it cannot comment further until the judge’s opinion is released.

We await further news of the details of the decision to see how this could possibly affect the many other online file sharing services out there.

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September 12th, 2013 at 8:06 am