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MPAA Sues Hotfile for 'Staggering' Copyright Infringement 213

Posted by Roblimo
from the picking-them-off-one-at-a-time dept.
The lawsuit, filed by the MPAA against Hotfile, is on behalf of 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures, and Warner Brothers. "The MPAA argues that Hotfile not only encourages its users to upload illegal content, but actively discourages them from uploading files for personal use, because the site offers incentives for users to upload the most popular files (which invariably end up being copyrighted movies). And because the site charges membership fees before people can download the content uploaded by others, the MPAA says Hotfile 'profits richly while paying nothing to the studios' for the bootleg files."
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MPAA Sues Hotfile for 'Staggering' Copyright Infringement

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  • Ergh. I hate this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@cWELTYox.net minus author> on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @08:57PM (#35145368)

    I don't want to support what you're doing but, charging to download other people's IP that you have no rights to is so horribly stupid.

    What the hell was HotFile thinking? At least no one's profiting off of P2P(well, as far as I know, the developers behind Bittorrent and clients aren't) of IP.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:18PM (#35145558)

      Eh, isn't your ISP profiting off P2P, especially if you have some form of usage-based billing, or are paying extra for higher speed and/or transfer cap?

      As for the "must pay to download", it's blatant bullshit -- all these sites (hotfile, rapidshare, megaupload, and a host of others) offer basic service for free and charge more for premium -- typically free users get something like 1 download at a time, 30-60 seconds staring at ads before you can start a download, and maybe a 1GB/hour download limit. If you pay for a membership, you get fewer or no ads, no delays, and greatly relaxed limits on downloading.

      Using bittorrent, where your download bandwidth is provided by some other bittorrent user's upload bandwidth, everyone only sees bandwidth on the order of one file. Here you're downloading from a server farm, which sees the aggregate load of all downloaders -- and that has to be paid for somehow. You're not paying for the content, you're paying for (or watching ads to pay for) transport -- all the "xxxx should be treated like a common carrier" arguments apply here.

      And, like bittorrent, there are legitimate uses -- I've seen some open-source software distributed this way (little scripts where the author didn't have a web server), and one Android tablet has even got official firmware updates from the manufacturer via rapidshare.

      • by bored_engineer (951004) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:56PM (#35145892)

        I've also seen more than one open source software distributed this way, but it's not really relevant, unless they only make a profit on open-source software.

        My ISP isn't directly profiting by this, any more than AT&T, my telephone provider (protected monopolist) is. Any use that I might have for Hotfile is indirect, in respect to my ISP, or AT&T. If I download a movie (I won't and wouldn't) any profits or the phone company or my ISP are distinctly indirect. Hotfile, however, is making a direct profit, assuming that they're profitable.

        • by Draek (916851)

          What's your definition of "direct" and "indirect" profit, exactly? they certainly aren't selling you the files or access to them, so that definition goes right out the window.

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @10:03PM (#35145942) Journal

        Hi MR AC! While I agree with most of what you are saying, the big "uh oh" that Hotfile did was this: they reward popular uploaders which kinda blows all your other arguments out of the water. Because by doing that they aren't just "charging for the bandwidth" they are actively encouraging people to upload...well...hot files.

        Because doing so gets them bonuses they otherwise wouldn't get if they uploaded legal files because those Linux ISO or tunes of your band will NEVER get even a fiftieth of the hits say the latest HD Rip will get. It's just common sense.

        So I'd say THAT is the line where they screwed up and will probably get bit in the ass. With the others IIRC the only "rewards" are for buying a membership which just as you say pays for more bandwidth and can be easily explained as such. But by rewarding those that upload popular files simply for that reason? Well THAT was some kind of stupid.

        • by Kalidor (94097)

          Of course, they can easily turn the reward argument around. Simply suggest that the uploaders they are encouraging are say, indie film makers or dj's wanting to spread their work. Make a good indie film, get it popular, get some benefits from the site as well as benefits from all the people talking about your project, and with luck you can see profit. And as of yet, such an indie film maker hasn't done anything illegal.

      • "Eh, isn't your ISP profiting off P2P, especially if you have some form of usage-based billing, or are paying extra for higher speed and/or transfer cap?"

        This also occurred to me. I discount this theory for one reason--my own P2P tracking.

        While I am sure there is some bias as a result of language, the vast majority of torrents I download have a high quantity of peers from Comcast, my own ISP. It is not unusual to see as much as 40%-50% of my peers resolve to Comcast. And, very surprisingly, they also seem t

        • Depends on how many people have a faster plan just to speed P2P up.

        • It appears from your description that Comcast is prioritising their own 'local' users on P2P protocols - which may be a technique for saving money.

          Comcast got in trouble for throttling P2P before, so now regard it as a 'necessary evil'; a service that costs them bandwidth (and thus money) but that their users demand.

          As such it's potentially cheaper for them to keep P2P traffic on their own network rather than pay the interconnect fees for traffic to external ISP's.

          Any network engineers care to comm
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      your argument is not even remotely on center. Hotfile is a storage locker. They are paying for the bandwidth in advance and just charging users to use it.

      This has nothing to do with IP or even copyright infringement for that matter. Additionally, the lawsuit here is another of MPAA's "we hope the judge is a technology moron" lawsuit. [techdirt.com]

      It's not Hotfile's job to give two shits what is on their website, and it's also not their job to watch or monitor it for illegal or other activities. Section 230 among others

    • by Kjella (173770)

      ISPs make money selling bandwidth, file hosts make money from advertising, most usenet servers charge a subscription fee. There's nothing inherently wrong about offering a commercial service, even if you know a significant portion of your users will pirate.

      What you don't get to do is cater specifically to that use or encourage piracy, which is what they may run afoul of here. That said the arguments aren't exactly watertight. For example imagine if YouTube had a profit split model where the uploaders got pa

      • by joshio (950759)

        No doubt they're in the gray area of the law, but as long as there's money in it companies will test those limits. What we do know is that RapidShare is legal and Grokster was illegal. Hotfile is floating somewhere in between, either way we're likely to see another precision of what you can do and not.

        I've used the free versions of both RapidShare and Hotfiles and they seemed pretty much the same to me. Are the paid versions so different that Hotfiles is breaking the law but RapidShare isn't? I just assumed that all of these sites operated the same way...

      • by Leebert (1694) *

        For example imagine if YouTube had a profit split model where the uploaders got part of the ad revenue.

        They do. [wsj.com]

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      Yes indeed. There's fair use, there's blatant copyright violation, and then there's just taking the piss. This falls squarely into the latter camp.

      Maybe if the **AA concentrated on things like this instead of taking 9-year-olds and 90-year-olds to court, we'd take them more seriously.

    • That's not what was happening. Hotfile sells a tiered cyberlocker service. Most use it for free. Only when you want more do you have to purchase a better plan. Not an uncommon business practice. It's like Yahoo.com's mail. You can use their mail service for free but if you want more space or the ability to connect via 3rd party mail clients you pay a fee. If you send emails with copyrighted content that's not Yahoo's business. The same goes for the online cloud storage. You generally get a few gigs

  • Then I guess they need to go after the users sharing the copyrighted materials not everyone who is using the service. When a bank robber drives to the bank he is going to stick up no one suggests banning driving or suing the road designer; how is this any different?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the site offers incentives for users to upload the most popular files (which invariably end up being copyrighted movies).

      I don't think Hotfile should be held liable for its users' poor taste.

    • When a bank robber drives to the bank he is going to stick up no one suggests banning driving or suing the road designer; how is this any different?

      The difference is that the site's incentive structure actively discourages noninfringing use, unlike roads and automobiles whose design generally does not discourage noncriminal use. Copyright has a long-established doctrine of secondary liability [wikipedia.org]. If the maker of a product or service knows that infringement is occurring using the product or service, and the product or service has no substantial noninfringing use, the maker of the product or service is a contributory infringer. If the maker of a product or service profits from infringing use that it has power to prevent, the maker of the product or service is a vicarious infringer.

      • by lostmongoose (1094523) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:13PM (#35145518)
        They have a DMCA form for copyright holders to use. If the MPAA doesn't wanna use it, tough shit. It's why the safe harbor clause exists. They have a way to get the files taken down, and are choosing not use it and instead are doing an end run around the law plain and simple.
        • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @10:46PM (#35146246)

          Question: What does a service provider have to do in order to qualify for safe harbor protection?

          Answer: In addition to informing its customers of its policies (discussed above), a service provider must follow the proper notice and takedown procedures (discussed above) and also meet several other requirements in order to qualify for exemption under the safe harbor provisions. ...

          Finally, the service provider must not have knowledge that the material or activity is infringing or of the fact that the infringing material exists on its network. [512(c)(1)(A)], [512(d)(1)(A)].

          If it does discover such material before being contacted by the copyright owners, it is instructed to remove, or disable access to, the material itself. [512(c)(1)(A)(iii)], [512(d)(1)(C)].

          The service provider must not gain any financial benefit that is attributable to the infringing material. [512(c)(1)(B)], [512(d)(2)].

          Question: What is third-party liability, also known as "secondary liability"?

          Answer: The concept of third party liability refers, as the name implies, to situations in which responsibility for harm can be placed on a party in addition to the one that actually caused the injury. The most common example comes from tort law: a customer in a grocery store drops a bottle of wine and another customer slips on the puddle and injures himself; he may bring an action for negligence against the customer who dropped the bottle and against the owner of the grocery store. Under the common law doctrine of third-party liability, a plaintiff must show not only that an injury actually occurred, but also (in most cases) that some sort of connection existed between the third party and the person who actually caused the injury.

          As such the concept of third-party liability is often divided into two different types: contributory infringement and vicarious liability.

          Typically, contributory infringement exists when the third party either assists in the commission of the act which causes the injury, or simply induces the primary party to do so commit the act which caused the injury.

          Vicarious liability often requires the third party to have exerted some form of control over the primary party's actions.

          In copyright law, vicarious liability may be established if the third party had the "right and ability to control" the infringer's activities, and if the third party received some financial benefit from the acts of infringement.

          Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers) about DMCA Safe Harbor [chillingeffects.org]

          If you know you are hosting infringing content and do nothing about it you are dead.

          You can't let things slide until someone rats you out.

          If you are aiding the infringer in any way - or rewarding him for posting infringing content - you are dead. If you penalize the legitimate content provider you are dead.

          If you are making money on the infringement you are dead.

          • by causality (777677)

            Question: What does a service provider have to do in order to qualify for safe harbor protection?

            Answer: In addition to informing its customers of its policies (discussed above), a service provider must follow the proper notice and takedown procedures (discussed above) and also meet several other requirements in order to qualify for exemption under the safe harbor provisions. ...

            Finally, the service provider must not have knowledge that the material or activity is infringing or of the fact that the infringing material exists on its network. [512(c)(1)(A)], [512(d)(1)(A)].

            If it does discover such material before being contacted by the copyright owners, it is instructed to remove, or disable access to, the material itself. [512(c)(1)(A)(iii)], [512(d)(1)(C)].

            The service provider must not gain any financial benefit that is attributable to the infringing material. [512(c)(1)(B)], [512(d)(2)].

            Question: What is third-party liability, also known as "secondary liability"?

            Answer: The concept of third party liability refers, as the name implies, to situations in which responsibility for harm can be placed on a party in addition to the one that actually caused the injury. The most common example comes from tort law: a customer in a grocery store drops a bottle of wine and another customer slips on the puddle and injures himself; he may bring an action for negligence against the customer who dropped the bottle and against the owner of the grocery store. Under the common law doctrine of third-party liability, a plaintiff must show not only that an injury actually occurred, but also (in most cases) that some sort of connection existed between the third party and the person who actually caused the injury.

            As such the concept of third-party liability is often divided into two different types: contributory infringement and vicarious liability.

            Typically, contributory infringement exists when the third party either assists in the commission of the act which causes the injury, or simply induces the primary party to do so commit the act which caused the injury.

            Vicarious liability often requires the third party to have exerted some form of control over the primary party's actions.

            In copyright law, vicarious liability may be established if the third party had the "right and ability to control" the infringer's activities, and if the third party received some financial benefit from the acts of infringement.

            Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers) about DMCA Safe Harbor [chillingeffects.org]

            If you know you are hosting infringing content and do nothing about it you are dead.

            You can't let things slide until someone rats you out.

            If you are aiding the infringer in any way - or rewarding him for posting infringing content - you are dead. If you penalize the legitimate content provider you are dead.

            If you are making money on the infringement you are dead.

            And if you die of old age, you are dead.

            • by nzap (1985014)

              Question: What does a service provider have to do in order to qualify for safe harbor protection?

              Answer: In addition to informing its customers of its policies (discussed above), a service provider must follow the proper notice and takedown procedures (discussed above) and also meet several other requirements in order to qualify for exemption under the safe harbor provisions. ...

              Finally, the service provider must not have knowledge that the material or activity is infringing or of the fact that the infringing material exists on its network. [512(c)(1)(A)], [512(d)(1)(A)].

              If it does discover such material before being contacted by the copyright owners, it is instructed to remove, or disable access to, the material itself. [512(c)(1)(A)(iii)], [512(d)(1)(C)].

              The service provider must not gain any financial benefit that is attributable to the infringing material. [512(c)(1)(B)], [512(d)(2)].

              Question: What is third-party liability, also known as "secondary liability"?

              Answer: The concept of third party liability refers, as the name implies, to situations in which responsibility for harm can be placed on a party in addition to the one that actually caused the injury. The most common example comes from tort law: a customer in a grocery store drops a bottle of wine and another customer slips on the puddle and injures himself; he may bring an action for negligence against the customer who dropped the bottle and against the owner of the grocery store. Under the common law doctrine of third-party liability, a plaintiff must show not only that an injury actually occurred, but also (in most cases) that some sort of connection existed between the third party and the person who actually caused the injury.

              As such the concept of third-party liability is often divided into two different types: contributory infringement and vicarious liability.

              Typically, contributory infringement exists when the third party either assists in the commission of the act which causes the injury, or simply induces the primary party to do so commit the act which caused the injury.

              Vicarious liability often requires the third party to have exerted some form of control over the primary party's actions.

              In copyright law, vicarious liability may be established if the third party had the "right and ability to control" the infringer's activities, and if the third party received some financial benefit from the acts of infringement.

              Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers) about DMCA Safe Harbor [chillingeffects.org]

              If you know you are hosting infringing content and do nothing about it you are dead.

              You can't let things slide until someone rats you out.

              If you are aiding the infringer in any way - or rewarding him for posting infringing content - you are dead. If you penalize the legitimate content provider you are dead.

              If you are making money on the infringement you are dead.

              And if you die of old age, you are dead.

              I almost died of old age scrolling down. You didn't have to quote the entire post.

      • When a bank robber drives to the bank he is going to stick up no one suggests banning driving or suing the road designer; how is this any different?

        The difference is that the site's incentive structure actively discourages noninfringing use, unlike roads and automobiles whose design generally does not discourage noncriminal use. Copyright has a long-established doctrine of secondary liability [wikipedia.org]. If the maker of a product or service knows that infringement is occurring using the product or service, and the product or service has no substantial noninfringing use, the maker of the product or service is a contributory infringer. If the maker of a product or service profits from infringing use that it has power to prevent, the maker of the product or service is a vicarious infringer.

        Remember when Sony was sued for helping people infringe copyright by selling Betamax VCRs?

        The "Beta can be used to make illegal copies" lawsuit alerted more people that such could be done and Sony sold a bit more units because of this newly publicised use-case.

        Lets not kid ourselves, Betamax cassettes were primarily used to "pirate" TV or other cassettes; Sony knew this hence: double cassette "duplication" models, models with timed recording settings, etc.

        So, Universal sues Sony -- Sony Inc. v Universal Studios [wikipedia.org]:

        The Court's 5-4 ruling to reverse the Ninth Circuit in favor of Sony hinged on the possibility that the technology in question had significant non-infringing uses, and that the plaintiffs were unable to prove otherwise.

        On the question of whether Sony could be described as "contributing" to copyright infringement, the Court stated:

        [There must be] a balance between a copyright holder's legitimate demand for effective - not merely symbolic - protection of the statutory monopoly, and the rights of others freely to engage in substantially unrelated areas of commerce. Accordingly, the sale of copying equipment, like the sale of other articles of commerce, does not constitute contributory infringement if the product is widely used for legitimate, unobjectionable purposes. Indeed, it need merely be capable of substantial noninfringing uses....

        (emphasis mine)

        So, WTF, file sharing services meet the qualification of merely being capable of substantial noninfringing uses.

        It's amazing how X on a Computer or X on the Internet somehow requires a whole new legal precedent rather than just X on a cassette or CD.

        Ignorant judges and jurors are the main cause of my copyright rage today... It's quite simple to understand, yet blows my mind on a regular basis just how ignorant the general public (including courts) are about such things.

        File sharing technology much like Sony, has made available something that could help people infringe copyright; In neither case does the file sharing site or Sony's Betamax cassettes require that the users infringe copyright. If someone does infringe copyright using a file sharing service, Bittorrent search site, or a Betamax cassette then you don't hold the creator of the tools in use responsible.

        Hint: Betamax cassettes, blank CDs, blank DVDs, Flash USB drives, magnetic hard drives, the Internet, file sharing protocols & websites -- All these things havesubstantial noninfringing uses. The DMCA exists, if the MPAA issuing take-down notices and the hosts are not removing the content, they lose safe harbor and may be culpable. Simply charging for a service (or for Betamax cassettes) which can be used to commit copyright infringement, does not imply contributory infringement.

        • by JimboFBX (1097277)

          Yes but betamax cassettes don't have the capability to see exactly what you are copying and determine if it should be allowed or not. There's a difference between the willful ignorance perpetrated by file sharing sites and a machine that is incapable of telling the difference between a home video and a movie rental. Likewise, if the only thing betamax could be used for was copying someone else's work, then I don't think the court would had ruled the way they did.

          • betamax cassettes don't have the capability to see exactly what you are copying and determine if it should be allowed or not.

            Nor does a file sharing service. Without a database of every non-free copyrighted work ever published, it can't determine whether the VP8 frames and Vorbis MDCTs of the .webm video that you uploaded represent a non-free copyrighted work. Relying on title matching leads to the Usher debacle [cnet.com]. An automated process currently can't detect nonliteral copying either, such as adaptation of a non-free copyrighted book into a film. And even if an automated process could reliably identify all non-free copyrighted work

          • Yes but betamax cassettes don't have the capability to see exactly what you are copying and determine if it should be allowed or not.

            The Betamax VCR by definition must have the capability to see exactly what you are copying. USA TV broadcasts are all copyrighted. Even this post is automatically granted a copyright to me as soon as I press "submit". The Betamax VCR was capable of recording live ( copyrighted ) TV -- the VCR was specifically designed with full knowledge that it would lead to recording of copyrighted content. Yet, because Betamax can also be used to produce/copy your own videos (camcorder + VCR = noninfringing works; Fil

          • Likewise, if the only thing betamax could be used for was copying someone else's work, then I don't think the court would had ruled the way they did.

            Which falls in line with the ruling they made. Sony was not infringing because the betamax had substantial non-infringing uses. What you are saying is no different.

    • Well, this is more like the government filing charges against the owner of the bank for allowing the crime to occur on their premises, simply by not actively preventing the robber from entering the bank and taking the currency, which is the "property" of the government, in a legal tender kind of sense. The government in this analogy, much like the MPAA, didn't directly lose anything, but something happened to something they have copyright over. It's clearly the banks fault...

    • by Eskarel (565631)

      I think it's more like renting out rooms to people for cash and then giving them a discount if you find human blood on the walls when they're done. You didn't actually tell them to break the law, but you encouraged it and profited by it.

      Note I am not saying copyright infringement is the same as murder.

    • by brit74 (831798)

      "When a bank robber drives to the bank he is going to stick up no one suggests banning driving or suing the road designer; how is this any different?"

      I just want to say that I'm sooooooooo sick and tired of people on the internet making whatever sketchy analogy supports whatever view they want to advance. Considering how often analogies are used to re-write the situation into something different, I propose making analogies the equivalent of invoking Nazis.

  • Plausible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstrickler (920733) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @08:58PM (#35145390)
    It's one of the few, perhaps the first plausible claim I've heard from the MAFIAA. They've still got a lot of work to do to prove it, but it's at least a plausible claim.
    • by black3d (1648913)

      Indeed, this is a sensible case. I've avoided Hotfile specifically for this reason. It encourages piracy so much that it screams "Honeypot". Seems not to be the case, which makes it a pretty clear-cut case of wilfully enabling and encouraging others to commit a crime. Of course, the law isn't that simple, so it'll be up to the courts to decide. As much as I am fairly neutral on "enabling" where there are other, legitimate uses - Hotfile's encouragement I cannot support.

    • Re:Plausible (Score:4, Informative)

      by Musically_ut (1054312) <musically.ut@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:27PM (#35145640) Homepage Journal
      Someone [techdirt.com] doesn't think so.

      However, the summary is misleading here:

      And because the site charges membership fees before people can download the content uploaded by others, ...

      Hotfiles allows for downloads (though at limited speeds) for non-premium accounts too.

      • by brit74 (831798)
        As soon as I saw "techdirt", I knew it was Mike Masnick spouting off another dumb opinion. I swear that guy is getting paychecks from known pirate websites because he can never rush to their defense quickly enough. I don't think he's ever seen a case of piracy he didn't love.
  • "Staggering" .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:06PM (#35145448) Homepage Journal
    i dont know these people who use words like 'staggering', 'shocking', 'outrageous' etc while describing things like these think that they can fool the public into buying their word through that wordage still.

    its 21st century. not 19th. pretty much everyone knows that the only one 'staggered' with situations like these, are private interests or governments catering to them.

    so its pointless to attempt portraying a self-interest, public-enemy move as something positive and socially acceptable. they should just cut to the chase.
  • by techwreck (1992598) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:15PM (#35145534) Homepage
    Did they somehow miss what has happened to every other site that has attempted to use that same business model over the the past several years? Am I missing something or is this kind of like jumping off a boat to go for a swim after a shark has just devoured every other member of your party that got in before you?
    • I'm sure they knew the party would end. But until it did, they made money. Now they corporation will be driven into bankruptcy, but so what? It will be a looted shell by the time the MPAA gets to it.
    • They've successfully faught back and are still operating? (rapidshare megaupload et alll)
    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      While they're not as old as rapidshare, hotfile has been around for eons. Rapidshare is also still running... even taunting the MPAA to try suing them. I think you're missing something, like the point you were trying to make. So far no site like this has been shut down for copyright infringement.
  • by redwhine (1990662) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:25PM (#35145622)
    "the site charges membership fees before people can download the content uploaded by others" I got to call bullsh*t on that... Without registering, I could download Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat from hotfile.com: http://www.google.com/search?q=http://hotfile.com/dl/65769082/cd84b25/Ubuntu.10.10.i386.part1.rar.html [google.com]
    • Without registering, I could download Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat from hotfile.com

      Now tell me what files you can download after your "membership fee " clears through your bank card or PayPal.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        Now tell me what files you can download after your "membership fee " clears through your bank card or PayPal.

        If you're implying that you get access to "special" files by paying for membership, not so. You can download anything as a free user, just have to type in a captcha and wait a minute -- the members get the same files, but faster.

  • The MPAA has found the solution to all kinds of crime!
    Instead of going after individual perpetrators we should instead go after the post office because the post office allows people to exchange everything from child porn to music discs and does nothing to discourage it!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm obviously going against the mob here, but i think Hotfile.com is just a GENERAL service provider... No more responsible for "copyright infringement" than your ISP.

    I personally don't think they deliberately set out to achieve "staggering copyright infringement", just like I don't think the guys who hacked together the first BitTorrent client and tracker, the first Gnutella servent, and the first 'Internet' were "out-and-out" encouraging copyright infringement (well, at least publicly... I certainly can't

  • As I've said numerous times before, if you don't like what the MPAA and RIAA do, buy nothing that has the slightest taint from them. Do not vote for politicians that support them.

    I have not been to a MPAA associated movie in 16 years (even getting a rating from the MPAA is enough for me to boycott it). I do not buy RIAA artist's work. I write letters telling the producers and artists why I won't buy their works. I haven't bought any IP from Sony in more than twenty years for personal use. I try not to buy c

  • Is Hotfile complying with DMCA takedown requests?

  • by KeithIrwin (243301) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @11:46PM (#35146700)

    Reading the brief they've filed, it's pretty apparent that they're stretching quite a ways. The only evidence of HotFile encouraging users to upload pirated content to their servers is that HotFile encourages users to upload files which are a) heavily downloaded by others and b) large. The MPAA is asking the courts to assume that large, heavily-downloaded files must be illegal content. They make a big deal in their brief of being scandalized by the fact that HotFile is not a service for people to store their own files, as if that's the only legal thing that a website which allows people to upload files can be. That might somehow bolster their case if HotFile was claiming to be an on-line locker service, but there's no reason to believe that they will make any such claim. The MPAA also accuse HotFile of having, prepare to be shocked, an affiliate program.

    It's not just that the brief they've filed doesn't contain a smoking gun: it doesn't even assert that one exists. They're accusing HotFile of being what it is: a site which facilitates the distribution of large files to a wide audience and asking the courts to declare any site which does that to automatically be illegal despite full compliance with the DMCA and no evidence that they induced users to engage in piracy. I certainly hope that the courts don't do that because it would set a terrible precedent and effectively rewrite the law to amend the safe harbor clause of the DMCA to say "except for big files which a lot of people download because those must be pirated".

    Mostly, though, what all this shows is that the *AA groups are going to have to reach farther and farther. They pretty much got to write the DMCA, but now it turns out that even it doesn't go far enough for them. The problem is that they didn't foresee that sites like HotFile (ad/subscription-supported large-file distribution sites which are completely content-ignorant and have no search or index mechanism) could exist. Now that they do, they want them gone. The reason that these sites can exist and be profitable is that bandwidth and storage costs have fallen so low that a peer-to-peer model is no longer necessary. As bandwidth and storage gets cheaper and cheaper, newer types of sites will be used for piracy too. Next will probably be sites which allow you to host your own blog or other website. As storage becomes cheaper, their maximum allowed file size will reach a point where you can slap a movie up on your blog without violating the maximum file size. Once that happens, the MPAA is going to want those sites gone too. Any site or program which allows ordinary, anonymous users to host and distribute large files (for some definition of large), is going to be on their hit list.

    I'm no particular fan of piracy, but you can't remove the sites which allow people to distribute pirated files for free without also removing the sites which allow artists to distribute their own albums and music videos for free because those are the same sites. The long-range eventuality of the plan the MPAA is following will be a total lock-down on any means of widely distributing large files. That's too high a price to pay for stamping out piracy.

    • by e4g4 (533831)
      Well said. I've just noticed that Pioneer One [vodo.net] has finally released the second episode of their series, and am torrenting the mkvs of episodes 1 and 2 as we speak. I've already seen the first episode, but it's been so long I need to see it again to be caught up.
  • As I understand it, most countries classify child pr0n as illegal content. What other content that is "illegal" is the MPAA talking about, that makes them "hot" files? Do the MPAA members make illegal content now?

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