The MPAA has scored an important victory against the file-hosting service Hotfile. The District Court of Florida entered a summary judgment against Hotfile noting that the cyberlocker failed to control the distribution of pirated movies through its service. The MPAA applauds the verdict and says it shows that Hotfile’s business model was built on “mass distribution of stolen content.”
Once one of the ten largest file-sharing sites on the Internet, Hotfile has become a prime target for Hollywood.
February 2011 the inevitable happened when the MPAA filed a lawsuit against the file-hosting service. Since then they have been battling fiercely in court and Hotfile even sued MPAA member Warner Bros. right back for allegedly abusing its copyright takedown tools.
The MPAA hoped to avoid a trial and asked for a summary judgment on the alleged copyright infringements committed by Hotfile. The file-hosting service, which accused the MPAA of foul play, insisted that it’s merely a service provider and wants a jury to decide the outcome of the case.
After a thorough review and several motions, Florida District Court Judge Kathleen Williams has now decided in favor of the MPAA. The verdict has yet to be released in public but the MPAA has already claimed its victory.
According to the MPAA the court noted that “Hotfile was successful in large part because it did not control infringement activity on its system.” Judge Williams most likely found the file-hosting site liable for secondary copyright infringement, or a related charge.
The Hollywood movie studios praise the verdict which, according to them, shows that Hotfile’s entire business revolved around piracy.
“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,” MPAA CEO Chris Dodd commented on the decision.
The MPAA boss went on to describe the ruling as “a victory for all of the men and women who work hard to create our favorite movies and TV shows.”
Hotfile has always contested the characterization of being a “pirate haven,” and previously pointed out to the court that it had been following the DMCA for quite a while.
In addition, the site showed that the most downloaded files on the cyberlocker were not pirated movies but Open Source software. Hotfile also argued that affiliate programs are useful for compensating content creators for their efforts.
In the end, however, the District Court sided with the MPAA and issued a summary judgment.
TorrentFreak reached out to Hotfile for a comment on the decision, but we have yet to hear back from them. Considering the time and effort that has gone in to the legal battle thus far it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hotfile files an appeal.
The summary judgment is certainly a landmark ruling that may have negative implications for other file-hosting sites. We will take a closer look at this when the full verdict is released.