Hotfile Claims Warner Bros. Issued Takedowns On Content It Had No Copyright Over

from the uh-ohs dept

The legal battle between cyberlocker Hotfile and the MPAA continues to heat up. After a judge severely undercut a key claim of the MPAA, the MPAA has been acting petulantly, refusing to hand over certain documents under discovery to Hotfile. The MPAA claims it would reveal their secret “anti-piracy” plans… but the real issue may be that Hotfile believes that Warner Bros. used Hotfile’s takedown tool to remove content over which it had no copyright. That would be a no-no and would certainly make the case that much more interesting…

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Companies: hotfile, mpaa, warner bros.

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Comments on “Hotfile Claims Warner Bros. Issued Takedowns On Content It Had No Copyright Over”

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That Anonymous Coward says:

But all your copyright is belongs to us.
We are just helping our copyright brothers out.
Laws do not apply to our scared copyrights!

So what if we took down content we aren’t even remotely sure is ours.
So what if we took down content we didn’t own.
They are pirates and because they break the law, we need to break the law!

This is different than the bogus DMCA takedowns?
There is rarely if ever anything done when they abuse the laws they demand be put into place to protect them.
Copyright is meant to be of benefit to the producers of content, but also to the public… I think we’ve forgotten that the people are supposed to get anything other than screwed out of these laws.

G Thompson (profile) says:

I love how they are trying to state the same bullshit response of “trade secrets” that AFACT tried in the iiNet case here in Australia a while ago. Even more interesting when their protection order request lists the likes of DtecNet, BayTSP, Peer Media, OpSec Security and MiMTiD as possible protectees.

There is a simple answer to all this, only allow solicitors/attorneys for both sides to access the Discovery evidence under an ‘in camera’ system with any experts having to sign court sanctioned and court created Non-Disclosure Agreements.

I sign these things all the time, it’s not hard and if any information, be it Secrets or whatever that is ever leaked by myself can land me in contempt of court at the very least.

This way no bias is shown to the evidence in any way, and nothing nefarious or otherwise can be construed by EITHER side. This is the best and most likely easiest equitable solution.

FuzzyDuck says:

Re: Re:

Except that the claim that it’s some top secret stuff, is probably bullshit. More likely it is something like this:

– Pay lawmakers to push through laws.
– Discredit lawmakers and other critics.
– Lobby the US gov’t to pressure other countries to pass similar laws.
– Find ways to scare people from downloading.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interesting story, but it could backfile for HotFile. Can you imagine:

hf: “They claimed copyright on something that is not theirs”.
lawyer: “Okay, so who owns the copyright on this stuff?”
hf: “Oh, it’s belongs to Sony:.
lawyer: “Okay, so you have a license for it from Sony, right?”
hf: “no, of course not!”
laywer: “so why is it on your service if you know it isn’t licensed to be there?”
hf: “I would rather not answer that question, as it could be self-incriminating”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In a court of law, they would ask the obvious question, “how do you know it isn’t theirs”. They would have to explain how they came to that conclusion.

We also don’t have the full story here, the titles could be similar, it might be something that they have the rights for in certain jurisdictions, perhaps. We just don’t know.

What we do know is that there is plenty of stuff on hotfile without permission.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s true we don’t have the whole story. But I imagine that the discovery request probably includes a request for proof that they have copyright over the content they claim copyright over. If they can’t produce that, the DMCA takedown request was fraudulent without ever having to know who does own the copyright. The discovery could also reveal materials such as junior lawyers asking their supervisors: “Do we have rights over content XYZ?” And the supervisor responding with something like: “Who cares? Just issue a DMCA take down.”

You’re right, we don’t have all the facts, but if hotfile is smart about how they do this, they won’t have to answer the admittedly embarrassing questions you mentioned above.

Also, the whole “do you have a license?” question would be easy to handle: “Our upload process says you must be authorized to upload it and that you give us a license. So I suppose we do have a license unless someone fraudulently uploaded content they were not authorized to upload. But that’s not our responsibility to detect.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That’s the problem – in the end, when they know that a large amount of the content on their site is illegal, they really do need to start paying attention.

Hiding behind the law and being willfully blind really isn’t something that should be tolerated. The push to get them out of the “service provider” section seems to be based on that idea. Clearly, HotFile profits when people pay to download files, and clearly illicit files would be much more in demand. So therefore, a conclusion could be made that their business model would not work without wilfully ignoring copyright violations.

I suspect we will find that either Warner or it’s related companies do hold copyright for the most part, errors do happen, but I suspect that the courts won’t get upset about good faith mistakes – everyone is human, it happens. It certainly doesn’t excuse HotFile’s business model.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

How is it willful ignorance to not do the research to figure out who uploaded something and whether they had the legal rights to do so? It seems like simple ignorance caused by a lack of desire to spend huge sums of money doing things which are other people’s responsibility to do.

Also, all that you have demonstrated is that they might make less money without illegal downloads. That does not mean they would not make enough money to stay profitable.

And we are not talking about honest mistakes. If I think that your car is my car and I put my key in it, that is an honest mistake. If I simply assume that it is and call the cops when I see you driving away, that is being reckless.

Alien Bard says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I actually had that happen to me. The company had just purchased a new pickup and parked it by the side of the road. When I arrived at work the boss tossed me the keys and asked me to pull it into the shop, all the info I had was that it was the “blue ford parked just up the road.” I took the keys and tried them on the first blue ford I came to. The door key worked fine but the ignition didn’t – fortunately as it turned out to be the wrong truck.

But in response to your post I would like to comment that Hotfile is actually the LEAST used service by pirates. The fact they are in business at all proves the fallacy in the idea that only pirates use such services.

Alien Bard says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I doubt they would be taking it to this level without solid proof of everything relating to their side of the case. I will also mention that Hotfile has very harsh anti-abuse protocols including shutting down accounts after just six strikes – exactly the same policy being pushed on the ISPs (except they came up with it all on their own). The Mafiaa’s retarded progress in creating a world-wide police state where everyone is branded at birth and all civilian communications are monitored by teams of lawyers is hardly Hotfiles fault.

I know, I know, “Don’t feed the trolls…”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I believe if someone tried that ‘defense’ in court when they were being accused of copyright infringement, they would be laughed out of court.

“errors do happen, but I suspect that the courts won’t get upset about good faith mistakes – everyone is human, it happens.”

I believe the legal response to this defense would be, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Nice how some AC’s have no problem ‘assuming’ that those being accused are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt without any form of proof, but point out a company abusing the law and it’s a ‘good faith mistake’….

Shill on…

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

In a court of law, they would ask the obvious question, “how do you know it isn’t theirs”. They would have to explain how they came to that conclusion.

Um. No. They wouldn’t. Because there is no burden for Hotfile to show who holds the copyright at all. Honestly, I know you claim you like to take the piss out of people who know more than you for shits and giggles, but at the very least you should learn the basics of what you’re talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s not a relevant question to the case. Hotfile doesn’t have to prove or know who owns the copyright but it is in a position to ask if someone making a copyright claim actually owns the copyright. I think it’d look more like this.

hf: “They claimed copyright on file but haven’t provided evidence to support their claim.”

After that I can’t come up with any other dialogue, that just kinda kills it dead there.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

I don’t see how an anti-piracy plan “derives independent economic value from not being publicly known”. I mean, we’re all going to find out what it is soon enough. Unless of course the plan involves some illegal activity and therefore they would loose a bunch of money if people knew about it. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.

Alien Bard says:

Re: Re:

“If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear”

Why does that phrase seem so familiar? Oh, that’s right, it’s the same one we keep getting thrown at us when we try to protect our individual rights to privacy. Now we get to see how one of the anti-privacy advocates behaves when the situation is reversed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Knowing who owns what is a basic of property. We’ve seen banks trying to foreclose on properties they didn’t own, all based on some spreadsheet. The same banks robosigned certifications. It was more than a mistake, it was fraud and negligence. There will end up being some serious repercussions over this.

I hope people who assert spurious copyright ownership, especially over public domain material, experience the same repercussions.

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