Last month Hotfile and the MPAA ended their legal dispute with an $80 million settlement.
While the agreement left room for the file-hosting service to continue its operations by implementing a filtering mechanism, the company decided to throw in the towel and shut down.
However, that doesn’t mean the trouble is over for the defunct file-sharing site. Encouraged by Hollywood’s multi-million dollar victory, several of the world’s largest book publishers have now filed a lawsuit of their own against the site and its owner.
Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, John Wiley and Sons, Elsevier and McGraw-Hill lodged a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, accusing Hotfile of vicarious copyright infringement.
“Hotfile built a business off of infringement. The book publishers’ rights were massively infringed by the site and its operators. They should not be allowed to simply pocket their profits and walk away from the harm they caused,” a representative of the book publishers tells TorrentFreak.
The publishers have submitted 50 books as evidence, including ‘Office 2007 for Dummies’ and ‘C++ How to Program,’ for which they demand compensation. This means that Hotfile is facing up to $7.5 million in damages, if they are found guilty.
The complaint itself offers little new and repeats several arguments that were previously made in the MPAA vs. Hotfile case. Among other things, the publishers note that Hotfile knew that their service was widely used for copyright infringement.
“Hotfile was aware that the vast majority of the files on its service were copyrighted. It received millions of takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, received correspondence from users and affiliates identifying copyrighted works and recognized that users were migrating to Hotfile for copyrighted works after competitor RapidShare was sued,” the complaint reads.
The publishers further accuse Hotfile of doing nothing to remove pirated files from its service, and claim that the filehoster lacked a repeat infringer policy, which the court previously saw as a requirement by the DMCA to qualify for safe harbor.
“Hotfile failed to ban with any consistency repeat infringers who accounted for a large percentage of the infringing files on the system. Despite receiving millions of DMCA notices, Hotfile did not track whether any of the uploads came from the same user,” the publishers note.
As a result of these lax policies, a relatively small group of persistent infringers was able to upload dozens of millions of files, the publishers say.
“In fact, by early 2011, nearly 25,000 users had accumulated more than three DMCA notices and many had received 100 or more. This group of uploaders was responsible for posting 50 million files, which amounts to 44 percent of the files on Hotfile,” the complaint states.
Taking into account Hotfile’s legal history, the publishers have a pretty strong case. This may in part explain why they chose to pursue this target. The question is, however, whether Hotfile still has funds left to pay any damages.