The Florida-based file-hosting service Hotfile has sued Warner Bros. for fraud and abuse. Hotfile accuses the movie studio of systematically abusing its anti-piracy tool by taking down hundreds of titles they don’t hold the copyrights to, including open source software. Among other things, Hotfile is looking for damages to compensate the company for the losses they suffered.
Earlier this year five major Hollywood movie studios sued the popular file-hosting service Hotfile for several copyright-related offenses. The case is ongoing and two weeks ago the MPAA studios scored a victory when Hotfile was ordered to share detailed information on the site’s users and affiliates.
Hotfile, on the other hand, is fighting back hard as expected. Yesterday the company filed a counterclaim accusing movie studio Warner Bros. of fraud and abuse. According to the complaint, Warner systematically misused the anti-piracy takedown tool (SRA) Hotfile had built for them.
Hotfile alleges that Warner has willingly taken down files without holding the copyrights, game demos and even open source software. The false takedowns continued even after the movie studio was repeatedly notified about the false claims.
“Not only has Warner (along with four other major motion picture studios) filed this unfounded and contrived litigation against Hotfile employing overly aggressive tactics, Warner has made repeated, reckless and irresponsible misrepresentations to Hotfile falsely claiming to own copyrights in material from Hotfile.com.”
“Worse, Warner continued to make these misrepresentations even after Hotfile explicitly brought this rampant abuse to Warner’s attention, ruling out any possibility that its wrongful actions were accidental or unknowing,” Hotfile writes in its complaint.
Hotfile explains that Warner’s Special Rightsholder Account (SRA) is assigned to Michael Bentkover, Manager of Anti-Piracy Internet Operations at the movie studio. Hotfile developed this tool to allow rightsholders to remove an unlimited number of files, as long as they hold the rights to them.
“Every time Warner used the SRA tool it expressly certified ‘under penalty of perjury that [it is] the owner or an authorized legal representative of the owner of copyrights’ and it ‘has a good faith belief’ that use of this material is not authorized by the copyright owner,” the complaint explains.