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Court Finds Cyberlocker Hotfile Liable for Housing Stolen Content in First of Its Kind Decision

In a ruling cheered as a victory for intellectual property rights, a judge has found file-sharing service Hotfile liable on charges of copyright infringement for housing pirated movies and TV shows on its site.

While the written decision will remain sealed for two weeks, the Motion Picture Association of America touted the ruling in an email to media, Variety reports:

The summary judgment decision from U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams in Florida was the first such ruling on whether cyberlockers can be held liable for the content stored on their site, the MPAA said. It also said that the company’s principal, Anton Titov, also was held liable for infringement.

The case dates back to 2011, when five U.S. movie studios sued Hotfile for hosting massive amounts of pirated material. Hotfile maintained that it was protected under safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 because it took down pirated material after it was notified of it.

The MPAA has argued that the mass distribution of stolen work was central to Hotfile’s business model. The Los Angeles Times quotes former Sen. Christopher Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA:

“This decision sends a clear signal that businesses like Hotfile that are built on a foundation of stolen works will be held accountable for the damage they do both to the hardworking people in the creative industries and to a secure, legitimate Internet.”