updated 02:45 pm EDT, Tue September 13, 2011
Claims Warner removed 100s of files it didn't own
The battle over software and video piracy took a turn yesterday when a Florida file hosting service sued Warner Brothers for allegedly engaging in copyright fraud and abuse of anti-piracy laws. Hotfile accuses the Warner Bros. of using the hosting company's anti-piracy tools to remove titles the studio doesn't own, including open source software. Hotfile is asking a court to make it whole for the losses they claim Warner Bros. caused.
The suit is in response to a ruling in a related case. This spring, Warner joined with four other studios and the Motion Picture Association of America to sue Hotfile for facilitating illegal file transfers. Two weeks ago, a judge ruled that Hotfile must release detailed information about its users and affiliates. Hotfile's countersued yesterday, alleging copyright fraud.
A spokesman for Hotfile claims the studio was warned repeatedly about using the site's anti-piracy mechanisms to remove content that Warner did not own. Hotfile developed the tool to allow copyright holders to protect their intellectual privacy. The company says Warner went far beyond the intended use, removing open source and public domain titles, and even game demos. Each time Hotfile's Special Rightsholder Account (SRA) is used, the account holder must certify "under penalty of perjury" that it is the authorized legal representative of the copyright owner and "has a good faith belief" that the use of the material has not been authorized.
For example, while claiming to remove files that are copies of the movie The Box, Warner removed several files related to the alternative cancer treatment book "Cancer: Out Of The Box," by Ty M. Bollinger. Another title deleted by Warner was "The Box that Saved Britain," a production of the BBC, not Warner.
Hotfile claims that Warner removed hundreds of files wrongfully. For example, when the studio removed pirated copies of the its movie "The Box," it also deleted a BBC production titled "The Box that Saved Britain" and several files related to an alternative health book, "Cancer: Out Of The Box," by Ty M. Bollinger. Hotfile alleges that this demonstrates a pattern of abuse of the copyright enforcement tool and a violation of its terms with the studio.
In addition to the monetary damages, Hotfile is seeking a permanent injunction that would force the studio to review each file individually.
Hotfile also claims that the studio has a financial incentive for its actions. A number of the files that were taken down had been the subject of a proposed affiliate relationship, which would have replaced the movies served by Hotfile with links to sites where the films could be purchased.
Hotfile's lawsuit and the original case that seems to have prompted it are both ongoing. [via Torrent Freak]