Hotfile cleared of direct copyright infringement

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

A federal judge may have cleared Hotfile of direct copyright infringement, but the popular file sharing website is not out of the legal woods, yet.

The Miami federal judge deemed complaints made by Hollywood studios that Hotfile is responsible for grand scale copyright infringement unfounded, but allowed a case to go through that alleges the website profits off of similar illegal activity by its members. The prosecution introduced the suit in February, and it follows a long line of similar cases where studios have attempted to curb the distribution of pirated copies of movies and other creative material.

Hotfile argued that its website operates as any other web-hosting service, and should not be held accountable for what users choose to share with each other online. The site does not offer search navigation to view its files, therefore, it is hard to prove that Hotfile distributes copyrighted material.

The studios argue back that the website relies on third-party sites to host and promotes infringed content.
Hotfile is considered a cyber locker, where users can upload files into a personalized queue and share the contents with countless others. Users gain financial rewards if the content proves to be popular among fellow users.

Hotfile was up against both direct and secondary liability charges, the first of which was thrown out by the federal judge citing users were ultimately responsible for all infringing acts. This decision came even though Hollywood studio representatives argued that users were using the site directly for the infringing actions.

The case surrounding the secondary liability charges will continue and prosecutors must prove that Hotfile induces users to infringe on copyrights.

Prosecutors are confident they will see a favorable outcome in the case, as Hotfile allows all of its users to download potentially infringing material proven, which has been proven illegal by precedent.

Source: ARS Technica “Judge rules “locker” site is not direct copyright infringer” Timothy Lee, July 13, 211