Following the epic death of Megaupload, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has put digital locker service Hotfile on its hit list. US District Court documents unsealed this week show that MPAA members have requested a summary judgement against Hotfile, arguing that the service enables, encourages and facilitates copyright infringement, just like Megaupload — or worse.
“Defendants protest that Hotfile is not like Napster, Grokster, Limewire, and other notorious infringers,” argue Disney, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Columbia, and Warner Bros. in their court filing with the Southern District Court of Florida. “But the differences make Hotfile’s infringement more egregious, not less. No earlier pirate services had the temerity actually to pay its users to upload infringing content, Hotfile does.”
Moreover, say the studios, “Hotfile’s business model is indistinguishable from that of the website Megaupload, which recently was indicted criminally for engaging in the very same conduct as Hotfile. Defendants even admit that they formed Hotfile ‘to compete with’ Megaupload.”
The studios go on to argue that, despite Hotfile’s claims otherwise, the site does not comply with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA) because it Hotfile failed to keep track of infringers, did not terminate the accounts of repeat infringers, and in fact “depended on copyright infringers” to make money.
“Nearly all of Hotfile’s top Affiliates [paid users] were egregious repeat infringers,” the document reads.
The studios also claim that Hotfile did not remove infringing content, despite being served takedown notices, as is required by the DCMA.
According to Ars Technica, Hotfile, and its owner, Anton Titov, have countered claims, saying that it took specific steps to register as a DMCA agent, and provides a removal form for allegedly infringing content. Hotfile argues that this protects the company under the DCMA’s “safe-harbor” provision.
The lawsuit against Hotfile was originally filed in February of last year. In September, Hotfile filed a countersuit against Warner Bros, saying the studio repeated issued takedown orders for content it did not own. Given the US government’s harsh response to Megaupload, however, we doubt such actions will have much good. The real question is: Who’s next?