Movie piracy is and will probably always be an ongoing problem for the movie industry for as long as the internet exists. While the file-hosting service Hotfile may be in hot water with movie studios for numerous copyright-related offenses, Hotfile now has reason to fire back.
The site is suing Warner Bros., accusing the studio of fraud and abuse, claiming they misused the anti-piracy takedown tool Hotfile built for them. The program was set up to give the studios access to take down files they held the rights to. Hotfile claims WB used the program to remove files that weren’t theirs to delete. Whether or not this is a flaw of the program used, or simply how Warner Bros. was choosing to use it isn’t entirely clear, however one example mentioned was regarding the film The Box. Not only did Warner Bros. remove the film from Hotfile, but they also removed files related to a book called “Cancer: Out of the Box,” by Ty M. Bollinger, and a BBC production called The Box that Saved Britain. The word “box” is the common keyword there, which could mean Warner Bros. was deleting by keyword, or else, not paying close attention to what they were removing when they used the program.
Warner Bros. either deliberately or accidentally deleting other possibly copyrighted files isn’t likely to garner Hotfile a lot of sympathy among the anti-piracy community. But, regardless of whether or not the mentioned book and BBC production were copyrighted, the files weren’t Warner Bros.’ to delete. And those were just two examples. Hotfile claims WB deleted hundreds of files they didn’t own the rights to, including a freeware software title, which was being shared via Hotfile by the publisher and was downloaded five times more frequently than any other file.
It’s also suggested that Warner stood to gain something from increasing the number of take-downs, due to an arrangement they had with Hotfile to offer links to movie stores where people could purchase the films they were attempting to share. As TorrentFreak puts it, “More takedowns thus means more potential revenue.”
Whether or not Hotfile’s suit against Warner Bros. holds any weight remains to be seen. It’ll be interesting to hear how the lawsuit progresses and whether Hotfile manages to come out on top of this one.