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Studios Go After Hotfile

8 Mar, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

Five major studios are going after file-sharing site Hotfile in court, accusing the hosting service of “copyright infringement on a mindboggling scale.”

The studios — Disney, Fox, Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner — are seeking a summary judgment against Hotfile and its owner, aiming to shut down a second major file-sharing site this year. Megaupload was shuttered in January. The Hotfile suit was filed March 5 in U.S. District Court in the southern district of Florida.

“Hotfile is responsible for billions of infringing downloads of copyrighted works, including plaintiffs’ valuable motion picture and television properties,” the suit reads. “As with other adjudicated pirate services that came before it, from Napster and Grokster, to Isohunt and Limewire, Hotfile exists to profit from copyright infringement. As with those other adjudicated infringers, the evidence is unmistakable that Hotfile actively fosters the massive copyright infringement that fuels its business.”

The studios estimate that 90% of the files downloaded from Hotfile infringe copyrights, and that nearly every user on the site is engaged in copyright infringement.

Worse, the studios contend, is that Hotfile has “the temerity” to pay users to upload infringing content.

“Hotfile’s own economist acknowledges that Hotfile’s practice of paying uploaders (Hotfile’s so-called ‘Affiliates’) based on how many times their files are downloaded induces the uploading of ‘popular’ (i.e., infringing) content,” the suit reads. “Additionally, unlike previous adjudicated infringers, which facilitated access to content stored on users’ computers, Hotfile itself physically stores all the infringing content on its own servers, giving it an unprecedented ability to stop the infringement — an ability Hotfile chooses not to exercise.”

Hotfile’s main source of revenue comes from subscription accounts. Currently, Hotfile sells accounts for $9 a month, $35 for six months or $55 for a year, according to court documents.

The suit alleges that evidence exists proving Hotfile actually helped users download illegal copies of several titles, including Avatar, The Social Network, The Karate Kid, Wall-E, The Italian Job, Iron Man, Spiderman 3 and more.

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