Monday, July 11, 2011

Judge Drops Key Claim In MPAA's Case Agaisnt Hotfile: Cyberlocker

From techdirt:  Judge Drops Key Claim In MPAA's Case Agaisnt Hotfile: Cyberlocker Didn't Directly Infringe

The MPAA has recently decided that "cyberlockers" are enemy number one on its most wanted list, even though they serve perfectly legitimate purposes. As something of a test case, the MPAA sued Hotfile (and its owner, directly) with an astonishingly weak case. After reading it, we were surprised that it didn't include more detail. The case seemed full of conjecture and claims that simply didn't match with reality. While I still think the main show is whether or not Hotfile is guilty of secondary infringement via inducement, the MPAA was certainly betting on a direct infringement claim to be a key part of the argument.

Thankfully, the judge wasted little time in dismissing the direct infringement claims. The judge points out, as we did in our initial post on the lawsuit, that the MPAA's weak filing fails to point out any evidence of direct infringement:
"Nothing in the complaint alleges that Hotfile or Mr. Titov took direct, volitional steps to violate the plaintiffs' infringement. There are no allegations, say, that Hotfile uploaded copyrighted material. Therefore, under the great weight of authority, the plaintiffs have failed to allege direct copyright infringement."
Where this becomes really important is that it means that Hotfile may be protected by the DMCA's safe harbors. Direct infringement isn't covered by the safe harbors. Now, the case will shift (among other things) to see whether or not (like YouTube and Veoh) Hotfile has correctly met the conditions to get safe harbor protection. Of course, it's entirely likely that the MPAA, in its quixotic quest, will appeal this particular part of the ruling, but next time, they should try to provide some actual evidence of direct infringement rather than just insisting that it must be true.

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