MPAA, Studios Sue Cyberlocker Hotfile for Piracy

Claim that site has become popular by distributing illegal copies of TV shows and movies

With DVD sales in decline and ticket sales stagnating, the Motion Picture Association of America continues to get tough with illegal downloaders.  

On behalf of the major studios that comprise its membership, the MPAA filed suit in the Southern District Court of Miami on Tuesday against cyberlocker Hotfile and its owner Anton Titov for copyright violation.

The Hollywood lobbying firm claims the site has become one of the 100 most trafficked in the world largely because of its status as a hub for pirated television shows and movies.

The five studios named as co-plaintiffs include Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Columbia and Twentieth Century Fox.

The MPAA says that Titov is a foreign national residing in Florida, and that the most popular downloads on the cyberlocker are almost exclusively pirated copies of shows and movies such as "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," "The Social Network" and "The Town."

The suit charges that Titov has not taken meaningful steps to stop copyright infringing members of the download hub. 

"Instead of terminating infringing users, Hotfile compensates them for their infringement. Ultimately, defendants do not take any meaningful steps to curtail infringement on Hotfile because they want and need that infringement to make their business profitable," the suit reads. 

The MPAA and the studios are seeking an injunction to prevent Hotfile from distributing copyrighted materials. They are also asking for unspecified damages and any profits Titov made from illegal downloads. 

“Everyday Hotfile is responsible for the theft of thousands of MPAA member companies’ movies and TV shows — including movies still playing in theaters — many of which are stolen repeatedly, thousands of times a day, every single day,” said Daniel Mandil, general counsel & chief content protection officer for the MPAA, said in a statement. “The theft taking place on Hotfile is unmistakable. Their files are indeed ‘hot,’ as in ‘stolen.’ It’s wrong and it must stop.”

The suit is just the latest effort by the Hollywood establishment to close the net on illegal file-sharing. In addition to using the court system, studios have partnered with federal agencies to shut down digital pirates and have endorsed the Senate's online piracy bill.