Hotfile has just become the next major file-sharing network to get the book thrown at it for copyright infringement. The Motion Picture Association of America has issued a statement declaring that a U.S. District Court in Florida has found the website and its owner, Anton Titov, guilty for sharing copyrighted materials freely across the Internet.
The MPAA fled the lawsuit back in Feb. 2011 on behalf of Disney, 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Universal and Warner Bros., claiming that Hotfile allowed copyright infringement “on a mindboggling scale” and was “indistinguishable” from the former file sharing website, Megaupload.“This decision sends a clear signal that businesses like Hotfile that are built on a foundation of stolen works will be held accountable for the damage they do both to the hardworking people in the creative industries and to a secure, legitimate Internet,” said former Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. “We applaud the court for recognizing that Hotfile was not simply a storage locker, but an entire business model built on mass distribution of stolen content.”
Hotfile had escaped charges for this long by claiming to be a legitimate file storage company, and it made its fortune through subscription plans. It had claimed that it was the individuals who were the infringing on the film studios’ property, not the company itself, but it still paid its userbase to upload movies and TV shows, alongside legitimate files, to its servers.
The court’s opinion will remain sealed for the next two weeks, but this marks the first time that a court has decided cyberlockers can be held accountable for their business practices — though, Megaupload saw a similar fate.