by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 3rd 2013 7:53pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 3:13pm
from the secondary-liability:-watch-out dept
The specific details of the ruling will be important, because it's very important to see on what basis Judge Kathleen Williams found as she did, but the risk of massive harm to innovation and the safe harbor protections under the DMCA is very, very real. Stupidly, the MPAA is cheering on this decision, despite the fact it will likely create chilling effects that will harm the kind of innovation the movie industry needs the most these days.
I know that some people will, undoubtedly, argue that Hotfile was used for a lot of infringement -- and there's evidence to suggest that's true. But, copyright owners have always had a remedy there: go after the actual infringers. Putting liability on the cyberlocker itself now puts just about any online cloud provider at risk of getting sued. Dropbox, Box.net, Flickr, YouTube, Google and many others need to pay close attention to what comes out of this case, because pinning liability on a third party storage company will make it much more expensive for any such service to be in business. This is sad, and stupidly counterproductive for the MPAA, because what it should be doing these days is embracing services that help fans access the kind of content they want when they want it. Instead, they're actively trying to shut down innovations via copyright law.
I'm sure we'll have a more thorough analysis of the full details of the ruling once they're out.
from the censor-first,-ask-questions-later dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 7th 2012 10:39am
from the well-look-at-that dept
However, even without SOPA/PIPA, there is still the power of diplomatic pressure, and it didn't take long for the Communications Minister of Gabon to announce that the domain was being suspended:
"I have instructed my departments... to immediately suspend the site www.me.ga," announced Communication Minister Blaise Louembe, saying he wanted to "protect intellectual property rights" and "fight cyber crime effectively".Of course, that seems pretty presumptuous on a number of levels. Since the service has not been launched -- and the actual details have not been revealed -- it's a bit premature to declare that the site must somehow violate intellectual property rights or be useful for cybercrime. And if government officials are stepping in to kill off cyberlockers based entirely on rumor and innuendo, will .ga block any other cyberlocker as well? Considering how popular such services are -- including those run by well-established companies like Amazon, Google and Dropbox -- it makes you wonder how Gabon decides who gets to use a .ga domain.
"Gabon cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people," the minister said.
There may also be a separate issue at play here. As some have noted, the .ga top level domain is administered by Gabon Telecom, which just so happens to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivendi... the same company who owns the world's largest music label, Universal Music. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 13th 2011 3:07pm
from the now-this-starts-to-get-interesting dept
Most of the response from Hotfile seems focused on proving that it's protected by the DMCA's safe harbors, but there are a few other interesting tidbits, including this one:
On information and belief, Plaintiffs have been investigating Hotfile for over a year in which time they were aware of particular URLs of files that they believed to be infringing and had decided to contend that Hotfile’s content protection policies were inadequate. Rather than diligently and promptly bringing suit, however, Plaintiffs and their content protection agents delayed in seeking any remedy. Not only did Plaintiffs inexplicably fail to bring suit or otherwise give Hotfile notice of their allegations during this period, to the contrary, they repeatedly complimented Hotfile’s content protection efforts, offered for Hotfile to become a business affiliate, and refrained from using their Special Rightsholder Accounts to takedown the files they believed were infringing. Plaintiffs thereby perpetuated the very infringement they now allege in this case. Plaintiffs’ unreasonable delay resulted in prejudice by causing Hotfile to leave up the files that are now alleged to infringe, inducing Hotfile to maintain the very content protection policies Plaintiffs now impugn, and causing potentially helpful evidence to be lost....It also notes that due to the compliments from studios and the questions about business relationships, Hotfile "relied on these representations believing that the Studios found Hotfile’s content protection policies to be more than adequate." The specifics here seem to be that Warner Bros. asked for and received a specific tool made by Hotfile to make deletions easier, and then regularly thanked Hotfile for its actions taking down content. Again, that looks bad for WB.
Other than that, the part that's getting attention is the claim that Warner Bros. issued takedowns on content for which it did not hold the copyright. That certainly looks bad for Warner Bros., and at the very least raises significant questions about how Hotfile could be expected to know who held which copyrights when even one of the plaintiffs appears not to know.
Warner has acted unscrupulously and dishonestly. Not only has Warner (along with four other major motion picture studios) filed this unfounded and contrived litigation against Hotfile employing overly aggressive tactics, Warner has made repeated, reckless and irresponsible misrepresentations to Hotfile falsely claiming to own copyrights in (or to have the owners’ authorization to delete) material from Hotfile.com. Worse, Warner continued to make these misrepresentations even after Hotfile explicitly brought this rampant abuse to Warner’s attention, ruling out any possibility that its wrongful actions were accidental or unknowing. Thus, Warner has knowingly made misrepresentations and it has engaged in DMCA abuse on an unprecedented scale by grossly misusing the powerful anti-piracy software tool that Hotfile specially created at Warner’s request.The details suggest that Warner started taking down more and more content, even taking down some very popular freeware software that had been purposely uploaded to Hotfile for distribution by its creators. It also appears to have used very questionable simple phrase matching, such as deleting all files that had "the box" in the file name, even if they were totally unrelated to the WB movie "The Box." So that, too, doesn't look good for Warner Bros.
The only thing I'm not sure about here, though, is whether or not Hotfile actually has standing to bring such a claim. I would have thought that it had to be done by the actual copyright holder of the content taken down (or someone else injured by such a takedown). I'm not sure that Hotfile can make such a claim.
Separately, some of these defense and counterclaims are really just directed at Warner Bros., which is only one of the five studios suing -- so Hotfile may still have some issues with the other four. Separately, I just noticed that Paramount is missing from the suing studios. There are six major studios, and all of them except Paramount are involved. That's a bit surprising, since Paramount execs have been some of the most vocal execs speaking out against cyberlockers. Anyone know why they chose not to join in on this one?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 11th 2011 12:05pm
from the a-good-start dept
Thankfully, the judge wasted little time in dismissing the direct infringement claims. The judge points out, as we did in our initial post on the lawsuit, that the MPAA's weak filing fails to point out any evidence of direct infringement:
"Nothing in the complaint alleges that Hotfile or Mr. Titov took direct, volitional steps to violate the plaintiffs' infringement. There are no allegations, say, that Hotfile uploaded copyrighted material. Therefore, under the great weight of authority, the plaintiffs have failed to allege direct copyright infringement."Where this becomes really important is that it means that Hotfile may be protected by the DMCA's safe harbors. Direct infringement isn't covered by the safe harbors. Now, the case will shift (among other things) to see whether or not (like YouTube and Veoh) Hotfile has correctly met the conditions to get safe harbor protection. Of course, it's entirely likely that the MPAA, in its quixotic quest, will appeal this particular part of the ruling, but next time, they should try to provide some actual evidence of direct infringement rather than just insisting that it must be true.