Hotfile Ordered to Pay $80M for Copyright Infringement

Hotfile Ordered to Pay $80M for Copyright Infringement

Hotfile must also cease operations

Hotfile must pay $80 million in damages for copyright infringement and cease operations, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled on Tuesday.

The Motion Picture Association of America sued the cyberlocker service and its owner Anton Titov in 2011 for violating its copyrights. The court ruled over the summer that Hotfile was liable for copyright infringement and also held Titov personally liable.

The ruling on Tuesday charges Hotfile with compensating the movie industry for the financial impact of illicit file-sharing and also bans the service until it employs copyright filtering technology.

“This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone,” Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, said in a statement.  “Sites like Hotfile that illegally profit off of the creativity and hard work of others do a serious disservice to audiences, who deserve high-quality, legitimate viewing experiences online.”

Hotfile pays users to upload files containing illegal copies of movies and TV shows to its servers, and to post the links on third-party sites, so that other users could download the content.

Though it claimed to be a legitimate storage service, Hotfile did not pay for personal files and documents. The website's incentive structure meant that uploaders of content were identified by copyright owners as infringers. Hotfile protected those infringers because those users were the foundation of its system — they drove the site’s traffic by offering stolen works, the MPAA said.

Hotfile had tried to use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in its defense, but the court rejected its arguments.