Mike Fleming

Los Angeles – The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) on behalf of several of its member studios today filed a lawsuit against the operators of the download hub service Hotfile (www.hotfile.com) for copyright infringement. Hotfile facilitates the theft of copyrighted motion picture and television properties on a staggering scale and profits handsomely from encouraging and providing the means for massive copyright infringement.

“In less than two years Hotfile has become one of the 100 most trafficked sites in the world. That is a direct result of the massive digital theft that Hotfile promotes. Everyday Hotfile is responsible for the theft of thousands of MPAA member companies’ movies and TV shows – including movies still playing in theaters – many of which are stolen repeatedly, thousands of times a day, every single day,” said Daniel Mandil, General Counsel & Chief Content Protection Officer for the MPAA. “The theft taking place on Hotfile is unmistakable. Their files are indeed ‘hot,’ as in ‘stolen.’ It’s wrong and it must stop.”

Sometimes referred to as cyberlockers, download hubs like Hotfile bear no resemblance to legitimate online locker services. In fact, Hotfile openly discourages use of its system for personal storage. Hotfile’s business model encourages and incentivizes users to upload files containing illegal copies of motion pictures and TV shows to its servers and to third-party sites, so unlimited users can download the stolen content – in many cases tens of thousands of times. Hotfile profits from this theft by charging a monthly fee to users who download content from its servers. Hotfile also operates an incentive scheme that rewards users for uploading the most popular files – which are almost exclusively copyrighted works. Hotfile profits richly while paying nothing to the studios for their stolen content.

Hotfile is operated by Anton Titov, a foreign national residing in Florida. The studios are suing Hotfile and Titov for direct infringement for unlawfully distributing copyrighted works, inducement of infringement, contributory infringement and vicarious infringement, for actively promoting, enabling and profiting from their users’ copyright infringement. A civil lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida for damages and injunctive relief for violations under the United States Copyright Act of 1976.

“Digital theft is not just a Hollywood problem. It’s an American problem,” Mandil said. “More than 2.4 million hardworking, middle-class Americans spanning all 50 states rely on the motion picture and television industry for their livelihoods. For all these workers and their families, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits.”