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Court Rules "Locker" Site Is Not Direct Copyright 45

suraj.sun writes "A federal judge in Miami has dismissed direct copyright infringement charges against Hotfile, a popular online "locker" service that the major Hollywood studios allege is responsible for massive copyright infringement. But he allowed the case to proceed on charges that Hotfile has induced and profited from the infringing activities of its users. The case, which began in February, represents the latest front in the never-ending arms race between Hollywood studios and users seeking free copies of their movies. Hotfile is a "cyberlocker" site. Users upload files they wish to share with others and are rewarded financially if these files prove popular. The studios allege that the overwhelming majority of the files users upload to Hotfile are copyrighted content being distributed without the consent of copyright holders' like themselves."
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Court Rules "Locker" Site Is Not Direct Copyright

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  • Also just in... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dirtyhippie ( 259852 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @09:39AM (#36732802) Homepage

    Court rules title on website not a full.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @09:40AM (#36732830)

    This is fairly standard given current law, and is the "easy" part of the win. Hosts of these kinds of user-driven content sites (e.g. YouTube) are not themselves considered to be violating copyright when copyrighted material ends up on them. The harder part is that sites alleged to be largely organized around promoting infringement can be held liable, under circumstances not completely clarified, for some variety fo inducement or contributory infringement. The Napster case was the leading one in that area.

    So the fact that they got direct-infringement charges dismissed doesn't mean a whole lot, for better or worse; that was mostly a foregone conclusion, and I'd guess was thrown in just on the off chance that plaintiffs would get lucky with their draw of judges. The controversial part of the case, whether Hotfile is more Napster-like or more YouTube-like, is still to come.

    • I thought I just read a story here the other day about the DOJ going after sites that link to copyrighted materials . . . I can't see how this site could be legal, but the ones that link to it would be seen as infringing. Of course the DOJ is not the courts and perhaps this ruling is paving the way for the others to have recourse.
      • by Blindman ( 36862 )
        Linking is slightly different in that it may direct people to copyrighted material. In this case, Hotfile provides an empty box that people may fill with copyrighted material. To me, this is similar to a storage facility. People could store stolen goods at the facility, but it is difficult to say that this is the storage facilities fault.
        • Is directing people to copyrighted material a crime?

          Could I be convicted for standing on a street corner handing out maps marked with the locations of drug dealers?

      • I thought I just read a story here the other day about the DOJ going after sites that link to copyrighted materials

        The DOJ is acting extrajudicially, though possibly with the figleaf of legitimacy provided by the 2600 case (in which linking to DeCSS was found to constitute a DMCA violation).

  • is to kill "locker" sites entirely.

    "Lockers" take away from the things the studios want you to purchase, simple as that. Alleging "oh they use these as dropboxes for infringement blarrgh rawr think of the children terrorism rawr" is just bullshit.

    It's rather like Hollyweird's quiet support for the various "restrict video game sales think of the children" bullshit laws - Hollyweird is being eclipsed by interactive media.

    That and the quiet push to make it so that DVR's can't play back to a recording device. T

    • They want more than that. They're totally unreasonable. They want to kill off the entire Internet. They want to turn the clock back for us to circa 1985 when the Internet was unknown to the general public, hard drives were far too small to hold 80 minutes of music, the mp3 format and the CD-R didn't exist, and they had a rock hard monopoly on distribution. They themselves would like to benefit from newer technology, as long as the rest of us can't.

      • and they're using all of the Democrats that they've bought off. Hollywood = Democrat. Democrats = the ones pushing crap laws these days about "copyrights" and making it a felony to have a video camera in a movie theater.

        They're not even trying to hide it anymore. Five RIAA lawyers placed in cabinet positions by Obama? FIVE of them. Even Bush didn't obviously suck up to one trade group like this administration has.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          Don't just blame the Democrats. Republicans from the deep south are equally on the hook here.

          It's really rather bizzarre. They happily bend over forwards for interests in another state 2000 miles away that they will gladly eviscerate as totally immoral.

        • and they're using all of the Democrats that they've bought off. Hollywood = Democrat. Democrats = the ones pushing crap laws these days about "copyrights" and making it a felony to have a video camera in a movie theater.

          *yawn* not this stupid canard again. Republicans are just as much supportive of this crap as the Democrats. Hell, the DMCA was introduced to the House by a Republican Representative and face pretty much no Republican opposition neither does most of the other copyright lunacy.

  • "users seeking free copies of their movies" is being a little disingenuous. How many of the people who would download the movie off of hotfile actually own the DVD? I'd wager a vanishingly small percentage.
  • Find comfort in knowing that while the copyright trolls continue their march into the bowels of the internet, other companies will have opportunities to succeed who take advantage of more creative business models (i.e. Hulu, Netfix) rather than force old models down the throats of customers. Those new models don't have to spend millions on lawyers and instead can spend that money on R&D and outpace and outprofit those older models. Essentially the damage has bee done, these companies are the new Borders

    • Protip: Hulu is owned by major media companies. People who make up the very same people you call copyright trolls.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      WTF are you talking about? The 'new model' which you refer to is: Netflix pays studio for right to stream content. When they don't agree on a price, Netflix does not stream the content. Without the studios and their content there is no Netflix.

  • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:01AM (#36734204) Homepage

    Isn't the DMCA supposed to protect such services against these kinds of lawsuits? So long as the operators of these websites respond to DMCA takedown requests on a timely manner, they really should not be held responsible for their users' actions. To make the operators of these services liable for their users' actions would no doubt harm those who seek to use them for legitimate purposes such as distributing their own original content.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"