Surprise: MPAA Told It Can't Use Terms 'Piracy,' 'Theft' Or 'Stealing' During Hotfile Trial

from the a-bit-of-good-news dept

I knew that Hotfile had been pushing for this, but I'm somewhat happily surprised to see Judge Kathleen Williams of the US district court in Southern Florida grant Hotfile's motion to bar the MPAA from using "pejorative terms" in its copyright infringement case against the company. Among the words that the movie studios cannot use in describing Hotfile's activity: "piracy," "theft" and "stealing." We've been pointing out for many years how the industry has been using these kinds of misleading terms to influence pretty much everyone to their side, even though the terms are not even remotely accurate. Hotfile had reasonably argued that such terms could negatively influence the jury:
In the present case, there is no evidence that the Defendants (or Hotfile’s founders) are ‘pirates’ or ‘thieves,’ nor is there evidence that they were ‘stealing’ or engaged in ‘piracy’ or ‘theft.’ Even if the Defendants had been found to have directly infringed on the Plaintiffs’ copyrights, such derogatory terms would add nothing to the Plaintiffs’ case, but would serve to improperly inflame the jury.
The MPAA tried to argue that these were commonly used, but apparently the judge realized that using these misleading words really would be unfair. Hopefully other courts follow suit.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 2:42am

    Hands up if you expect the MPAA's filings to just be blank pieces of paper now ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 3:57am

    Re:

    There might be a 'the' scattered around here and there, but yeah, without being able to use their buzzwords, their lawyers are going to have a real ball writing up their arguments, should be interesting to see what they come up with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 4:38am

    Fall back strategy

    They will just go back to claiming Billions in "LOST SALES"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Ninja (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 5:32am

    I'm picturing lawyers chuckling every time they need to talk about Hotfile activities.

    It's an awesome decision since these words are misleading. Hotfile provides a storage and sharing service that people MAY use to INFRINGE on copyrights which has nothing to do with stealing or piracy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 5:48am

    Re: Fall back strategy

    Hopefully, any such claim will be immediately followed by a demand that they actually prove it for once.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Violynne (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 5:54am

    Too bad the court didn't force them to use the terms "innovation", "consumer demand", and "reasonable price" during this trial.

    I'd love to have watched them sweat trying to do so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    They show proof all of the time, it is a matter of deconstructing that proof in which we find Grocery Baggers included in the workforce to plump up numbers.

    They often show lost sales by ignoring large sections of income as they keep playing games with words about licensing vs sales.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:06am

    Re:

    as was pointed out on TorrentFreak this means many of the people set to testify can't give their job titles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:07am

    ...Is it wrong that I'm now picturing the MPAA's legal team like Richard Nixon's head in Futurama in the witness stand?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:08am

    Re:

    Nah, it'll just be lots of blank lines now.

    "The defendant _____ our property. They are ________ _______. They _____ money from us."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    anonymouse, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:12am

    WOW

    Next they will allow those being sued to show that even though there is more sharing of content(see what i did there) than at any other time in history they are still making record profits at the boxoffice. This will prove once and for all that sharing content for personal use is not doing one thing to harm the Content creators.

    And when they come up with how dvd sales have dropped explain to them how that was an income stream they fought against for years and that if they only took advantage of the huge infrastructure of the internet they could convert those lost sales to actual sales. Nowhere on the internet is there a website where i can buy every movie ever created and that is where places like thepiratebay fill a gap that the industry refuses to fill, they do not want people to have access to older content...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:14am

    Yeah, right

    We know they just will use these terms anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    That might be difficult according to this study (pdf). It finds that for popular artists, file sharing has no impact on sales, but for the lesser known it can boost sales by up to 30%.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:18am

    Re:

    No, that is the correct way to picture them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:19am

    Ha! The joke's on the court!

    Those intellectual property rapists at Hotfile won't know what hit em!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:33am

    and who wants to bet it still does?

    who wants to be how soon into the proceedings?

    who wants to bet how slow the judge will be to reprimand over it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    McGreed (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:39am

    Re: Fall back strategy

    Can't wait till they show up with their Time Traveller arguments from the alternative timelines, which will show they are right....

    Or...maybe not...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    That's my point, in a sense. We hear these things being claimed all the time, but few studies actually back the claim up. Those that do appear to do so, as noted by TAC above, often rely on flimsy evidence or exaggerations, or just misrepresentations of what's actually concluded.

    Surely, it's not too much to ask that they should prove their most basic claim before they're able to take further negative actions that damage both the public and other companies alike. I'm not holding my breath, but it would be nice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re:

    They committed naval involuntary wealth redistribution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:51am

    It would be funny if all of those older cases get retrials because of this clarification. LOLS

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:55am

    Re: Yeah, right

    Their lawyer's probably aren't going to risk their legal license doing so. They'll just wait, see if they lose, then argue they should be allowed to use the terms when they appeal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 7:02am

    Re:

    The RIAA/MPAA got what they wanted, death of the companies via legal fees trying to defend themselves. Most of them have no money to fund retrial.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 7:04am

    dont forget who started using these terms, and why. it was done entirely to portray people as being the scum of the earth, even though this and every other business relies totally on them! if these fuckers can compare the copying of a movie that a person owns, to the true act of piracy, such as the invading of the Maersk Alabama, the capturing of and financial demands made for the safe return of the crew and the cargo of that ship, i'd be interested to learn how that comparison is made! the industries may well think that copying a movie is worth the total annihilation of a person, his finances and ultimately, in all probability, his life, i'm damned if i do!! and the politicians that have allowed the continuation of this and other terms that completely condone the disgraceful actions of an industry, the justification of the harm done to people, so as to get a name for themselves and introduce totally discriminate and unjust sentences for a natural human activity, should be the ones that face a court!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    ECA (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 7:16am

    YEA..

    Proper use would make..
    "Improper USE of product/material"

    the Word piracy is improper in the first place. IT was a derogatory and mis-used word.
    Their were Very few Pirates by any understanding. MOSt were hired Raiders.
    Thief, means you GAINEd something..which may be hard to prove.
    And stealing is also fun.. try showing that the Claimant didnt GAIN for the loss.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    MPAA, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 7:54am

    Preview of MPAA's next filing

    Hotfile is group of people similar to those guys with swords and cannons who sail the high seas looking for booty to bury in a treasure chests. They are like those guys who use weapons to encourage people to give them things in shadowy alleys at night. What they did is the same as those people who smash windows in an effort to retrieve items of intrinsic value without compensating the owners for said items.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Beta (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:02am

    we dare you

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    Yes, the MPAA is making statements that are outright false, but I don't like the idea that the court is forbidding the use of certain words. If they want to claim that there was theft, let them make the claim. If the defendants disagree, they can object and rebut. If the judge finds the terms inappropriate, she can sustain the objection and give the plaintiffs a good dressing-down in front of the jury for making false claims. Repeat as necessary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:02am

    How quickly people forget that in August of this year the court rendered an opinion granting summary judgment to the plaintiff's that Hotfile had engaged in unlawful activity under our copyright laws. The case now moves before a jury to render a verdict on damages due to the plaintiffs. Since the summary judgment award was premised on secondary liability, these so-called pejorative terms do not come into play since they do not relate, even as used by lay persons, to the essential elements of Hotfile's acts that led to the award against it and its principal.

    IOW, you cannot call them pirates, but you can certainly use any and all "legal terms of art" that convey virtually the same meaning as is commonly understood within the lay community.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    crade (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:05am

    Re:

    Na, they still have their fraudulent reports to fall back on.. Now if they were actually forced to tell the truth, and not just prevented from this particular propaganda then they would be in trouble.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    crade (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    Well, they show stuff that morons in a hurry might mistake for proof anyway.

    They don't show lost sales either.. They show smoke and mirrors and tell you it's lost sales.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:11am

    Re:

    Right. There's an important distinction that Mike is overlooking. Their liability was vicarious, meaning, it was imputed to them via their relationship with the direct infringers. We wouldn't call a boss a "manslaughterer" even if he is vicariously liable for the manslaughter caused by his agent. Sorry, but this isn't the huge victory the copy-haters think it is. They are still liable for the thefts, though they are not thieves themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Beta (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:16am

    how to ruin an illusion

    My favorite line:
    Banning the terms would make it hard for MPAA’s lawyers and the witnesses to describe the events that took place, according to the movie studios.

    By which they mean that it would make it hard for them to describe the events that didn't take place, at least not without consciously realizing that they were committing perjury. This reminds me of Lee Siegel's utterly beautiful statement about magic:
    Real magic, in other words, is the magic that is not real, while magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re: we dare you

    That is exactly what this is though, a sustained objection, handled preemptively. The point of an making an objection is to have stricken from the record unfair questions and comments that were not supposed to be made in the first place. The problem with objections is that although it's stricken from the record and the jury isn't supposed to consider it in deliberation, the jury still hears it. This way the jury doesn't without getting in trouble for directly violating the court's order.

    What's also good about this is that this is as part of this case, this should set a legal precedent that may be able to be used in other cases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 8:47am

    Re: Ha! The joke's on the court!

    FOR THE CHILDREN! Call them pedophiles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 9:04am

    That's OK. Larceny, purloining, absconding, hijacking and unjust enrichment should be descriptive enough terms.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Deranged Poster (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re:

    Fun, Add Libs :D
    1) Cleaned
    2) Very
    3) Nice
    4) Received

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    Funny how none of those words brings "copy" to mind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Crazy Canuck, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 9:20am

    Re:

    Hotfile has murdered our bottom line. They are getting away with killing our profit and causing genocide of our business model!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 9:24am

    While they're at it, they should be prohibited from using the terms "creativity" and "innovation" until they stop reinventing the wheel.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    It's easy to come up with "proof" when your concept of math is to just to make up the numbers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Re:

    Better idea, just prohibit them from using ANY words or phrases that they don't understand the meaning of. Only competent English is allowed. And while we at it only competent Math is allowed too.

    So now we get the MPAA's next argument...

    [crickets]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 10:05am

    Re: WOW

    I don't remember them fighting against DVD income. It was VHS they were scared of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    And burglars, robbers, looter, pilfer, swipe, and abscond with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Sunhawk (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 10:23am

    Commonly used terms

    Of course they're common-use by now... because you've been *pushing them since day one*. Just because you've been doing so for well over a decade doesn't mean it's not inaccurate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 11:04am

    do lawyer fees count as yearly losses?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    crade (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 11:10am

    Re:

    They don't count anything measurable.. It screws up their system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    crade (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    As opposed to you know, something they are actually charged with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    RD, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Ok then, they dont get to use terms like "sale"

    Ok, then, if they want it that way, then they also don't get to use terms like "own it now!" or "on sale now!" to try to get people to purchase their own copy, just to turn around and claim "oh, you don't OWN it, its a LICENSE!" and attempt to illegally restrict what you can do with it post-first-sale.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Ok then, they dont get to use terms like "sale"

    Sounds like a good troll lawsuit - sue them for false advertising for describing as on sale when they only license it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    It's like New Math for morons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Legal fees for megacorps are calculable?

    I thought they were like the supermassive black hole of expenses! And that theyw ere underwritten by the stolen properties of artists everywhere!

    ...my world-view has crumbled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    LAB (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    I am encouraged by this. It would seem that this suit is akin to charging a gun maker with murder.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Alana (profile), Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re: Ok then, they dont get to use terms like "sale"

    Actually, sounds like a good lawsuit, period.

    Would love to see something like this brought to court.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Re:

    Do you actually have a list of things Hotfile stole?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 6:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    yep, just like the report where the MPAA stated that the loss from "Piracy" was 7.5 trillion dollars. (More than the US Movie industry has made in it's entire existance.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 4:08am

    Might be surprising if you have no faith in the legal system, but I highly doubt that the Brown family were allowed to refer to OJ as the murderer or the killer when they sued him.

    Did the prosecutor refer to OJ as the killer when OJ was on trial?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 7:56pm

    Hotfile settles MPAA copyright case, agrees to $80 million in damages
    Hotfile users made more than 2.9 billion downloads during the site's lifetime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Dec 4th, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    $75 Trillion. Not a measly $7.5.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Dec 4th, 2013 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Fall back strategy

    It's not like it, it is it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 9:36am

    The problem with the concept of "Property"

    Calling works "intellectual property" has problems similar to those involved in calling human beings "Property." It Takes a Village to enforce such ideas, it involves censorship, and the penalties are extremely high:

    Code of Virginia 1849, Title 54, Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 198, Of Offenses Against Public Policy, Section 22.

    If a free person, by speaking or writing, maintain that owners have not right of property in their slaves, he shall be confined in jail not more than one year, and fined not exceeding five hundred dollars. He may be arrested, and carried before a justice, by any white person.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    randy paré, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 9:00pm

    piracy is theft

    To those who gleefully download the work of others, without permission or compensation & assist many more in doing the same:

    If I write a novel and someone pirates it and shares it with millions, without my permission or compensation, should I, in your opinion, have any recourse or be able to seek any redress?

    Or, should being a novelist just be considered a hobby?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Jan 1st, 2014 @ 3:19am

    Re: piracy is theft

    Should they be paying a third party on your behalf for material, reproduction and shipping fees?

    Can these people pay you directly?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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