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File trading website must pay $80 million for copyright violations

Hotfile will pay damages to the group representing Hollywood movie studios

Technology has made it far easier for movie fans to enjoy content. Nowadays, we can stream flicks on our tablets or smart TVs from a number of legitimate streaming providers. But the same advances in technology have made it far easier for people to pirate movies, downloading them illegally or sharing copies with friends. There are a number of file-trading sites on the Internet, many of which host a variety of copyrighted material that users share with one another for free. 

Now, after a ruling by a Florida judge, Hotfile must cease operations and pay a cool $80 million in damages to the trade group that represents major Hollywood studios. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed suit against Hotfile in February of 2011, claiming that the company was guilty of copyright infringement.

Hotfile attempted to argue that it was protected under the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, stating that it should not be liable for the actions of its users. But in August, a judge ruled that the site is responsible for infringement. This decision was the first time that a so-called “cyberlocker” site was held liable in this fashion.

The MPAA seems to be on a bit of a roll as it seeks to combat piracy and copyright infringement. In October, the MPAA reached a deal with IsoHunt, an online directory for pirated material. IsoHunt has since been shut down. Also, the MPAA has targeted search engines like Google, taking them to task for linking to sites that host pirated content.


For more stories about copyright issues, check out the following:

Emerging trends in the creative economy have major IP implications fights back against fraudulent DMCA notices

Google wins copyright suit thanks to Google Books’ public benefit

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Senior Editor and Community Manager

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Rich Steeves

Richard P. Steeves is Senior Editor and Community Manager of InsideCounsel magazine, where he covers the intellectual property and compliance beats. Rich earned a B.A....

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