Originally published: February 8, 2011
Last updated: February 8, 2011 - 9:30pm
So-called “cyberlocker” sites have been a growing piracy problem for a couple years now, but big entertainment companies haven't -- until now -- gone after them in court the way they've successfully gone after peer-to-peer file-sharing sites like Grokster and Limewire. But it looks like the battle is going to start.
The Motion Picture Association of America, on behalf of its member studios, filed a lawsuit against the popular Hotfile file-sharing service. The studios could have chosen to sue any one of a number of cyberlocker services for copyright infringement; the fact that they chose Hotfile suggests that they believe that this service is a particularly ripe target, possibly because it’s one of only a few bold enough to offer an “incentive” program that gives cash rewards to big uploaders. There’s nothing inherently illegal about cyberlocker services, as the MPAA sort-of acknowledges in their release about the lawsuit, which was filed in a Miami federal court. “Download hubs like Hotfile bear no resemblance to legitimate online locker services,” says the organization. “In fact, Hotfile openly discourages use of its system for personal storage.” The lawsuit describes how Hotfile incentivizes uploaders to send popular files by paying them once the file has been downloaded more than 1,000 times. Most of those files are, the MPAA claims, copyrighted works that are being illegally shared. And it’s those illicit files, claims the MPAA, that have made Hotfile one of the 100 most visited sites in the world, less than two years after its launch.