Hotfile accuses Warner Bros of abusing DMCA in bid to cut piracy

first_imgThe fight against piracy online can be viewed two ways. The copyright holders want more control and restrictions put in place to stem the flow of protected content online. At the same time, policy makers, rights organizations, and the general public want to ensure draconian measures are not used that go too far in the bid to protect the rights of license holders.This week Warner Bros. has demonstrated why introducing stronger measures to fight piracy online may end up in more abuse of the system. In a long fought lawsuit against the online service Hotfile, it has been revealed Warner Bros. is abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in a bid to get any and all files it thinks are infringing copyright taken offline.Hotfile is a file hosting service that has been online since 2006 and sees in excess of 23 million visits every month. The free account they offer allows files of up to 400MB to be uploaded, while premium accounts have hundreds of gigabytes of space in which to store files.As you’d expect, Hollywood’s representative the MPAA isn’t happy about Hotfile because inevitably copyright-protected work gets uploaded there. So in February a lawsuit was brought against the service. The MPAA believes Hotfile is profiteering from and promoting the sharing of copyright material.But Hotfile is putting up a fight, and believes it complies with the DMCA by providing a takedown process any copyright holder can use to have infringing files removed from the service. What has been revealed as part of the lawsuit is one of the companies the MPAA represents has been misusing that takedown process.The DMCA states that a takedown notice must be issued in good faith. That means in this case Warner Bros. should only be using them for files it has viewed and confirmed as being copyright infringing. What Hotfile has presented to the court is evidence Warner has submitted thousands of takedowns for files it has never viewed, it owns no copyright for, and that do not in any way infringe copyright.Even more surprising is Warner Bros. has admitted to doing this for the example takedowns Hotfile presented. It seems Warner Bros. has automated the takedown process to the point where its system just searches for keywords associated with copyright work and then submits a takedown for every file it finds without checking them first. There is no human involvement in that process.Warner Bros. has argued that it cannot download and check every file due to the volume of files there are. However, in admitting to that the company may also be admitting a DMCA violation.Warner Bros. has asked for the claims Hotfile is making to be dismissed because most automatically removed files were infringing.Read more at TorrentFreak and ars technicaMatthew’s OpinionI believe that copyright holders have every right to try and protect their work, but if they are found to be abusing the systems put in place to protect that work, then they should also be held accountable.The jury is still out on how much damage piracy does to the entertainment industry, and it has been argued it may actually increase sales. But one thing is clear: if thousands of takedown requests are being issued without proper checks being carried out, then we can’t really trust the figures coming out of Hollywood as to how much piracy is occurring.Although I doubt this revelation will make the lawsuit disappear for Hotfile, it should at least prompt the judge on the case to look at the evidence again with some skepticism.last_img