MediaFire Counters La Liga’s ‘Baseless’ Piracy Accusations

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A few weeks ago, Spanish football league La Liga nominated several sites and services for the US Trade Representative's upcoming 'notorious markets' report. The Texan company MediaFire was highlighted in the cyberlocker category, characterized as a pirate service. In a late reply, MediaFire counters the claims, stating that they are inaccurate and unsupported.

mediafire logoFounded in 2006, MediaFire is one of the oldest file-storage sites still around today.

Operating from The Woodlands in Texas, the file-sharing service has evolved into one of the largest services of its kind, serving 43 million registered users and more than 12 million daily visitors.

Hollywood’s Crosshairs

Early on, this popularity put the site in the crosshairs of the Hollywood studios, who branded it a “rogue cyberlocker” several years ago. That accusation came at a turbulent time, just weeks after Megaupload was taken down by the US Government.

Surprised by this accusation, MediaFire emphasized that it has always cooperated with rightsholders by taking down infringing content. At the same time, the company worked hard behind the scenes to expand its service into more than just a plain old file-sharing platform.

MediaFire Evolved

Today, the site offers a full suite of backup and sync options, similar to Dropbox and Google Drive. This doesn’t mean that people can no longer use it to host pirated content, but MediaFire says it does all it can to help rightsholders.

This shift in recent years hasn’t gone unnoticed. The RIAA, for example, repeatedly praised the company for using “efficient and reasonable technological solutions” to prevent piracy. For example, by scanning uploaded files for potential copyright infringements.

Despite this improved track record, MediaFire’s ‘cyberlocker’ stigma still haunts the company.

La Liga Targets MediaFire

Most recently, the Spanish football league La Liga recommended the US Trace Representative, to add the Texan company to its forthcoming list of notorious piracy markets.

MediaFire wasn’t happy with this recommendation and this week the company’s CEO, Derek Labian, submitted a late rebuttal, countering La Liga’s accusations.

The rebuttal begins by pointing out some telling facts. Despite the grave accusations, MediaFire notes that it received only two DMCA takedown notifications from the organization over the past year. There was no other correspondence from La Liga either.

‘La Liga’s Claims Don’t Hold Up’

MediaFire’s CEO goes on by responding in detail to the broad claims that were made about cyberlockers. For example, La Liga said that it is very easy to detect illegal content hosted on these platforms, something the company denies.

“[W]e are not aware of any readily or ‘easily’ available mechanism that would allow us to detect a copyrighted sports video in the same way we would identify other types of content. This claim is not supported anywhere in the submission,” Labian writes.

La Liga also claimed that cyberlockers offer instant and unlimited download speeds to premium users who pay for the service. Again, MediaFire denies this, noting that it treats all customers the same and has never had any artificial barriers.

“We have avoided these types of subscriptions specifically because it encourages illicit behavior which is contrary to our business model and Terms of Service,” MediaFire’s CEO writes.

MediaFire is a ‘Good Citizen’

The letter goes on to highlight other claims from La Liga, pointing out that these simply don’t apply to their services.

All in all, MediaFire stresses that it does what it can to prevent abuse, including copyright infringement. It works with various copyright holders, such as the RIAA, which recognized the company’s efforts and classified it as a ‘good citizen’.

“We implement best practices and go above and beyond to prevent abuse. Further, our business model itself is not conducive to abuse, especially the kind claimed by LaLiga.”

Whether the rebuttal has convinced the US Trade Representative will become clear in the near future, when the next ‘notorious markets’ list is published.

A copy of the letter from MediaFire’s CEO is available here (pdf). The original La Liga submission can be found here (pdf)

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