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File Sharing Site Hotfile Sues Warner Bros. Over DMCA Abuse

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 14, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Digital locker site Hotfile has sued Warner Brothers for alleged abuse and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).


Typically, you'd think a company like Hotfile would be the one under the crosshairs of the DMCA. As a file-sharing site, Hotfile users are known to upload copyrighted works onto the site. Some of these files include Hollywood films - and Hollywood studios have taken notice.

Hotfile argues that they comply with the DMCA's notice-and-takedown procedures, and thus immunity from copyright suits, according to Ars Technica.

So far, Hollywood studios have disagreed, and some have filed suit against the company. It's a surprising twist of fate that Hotfile is now accusing a big Hollywood studio of DMCA violations.

Hotfile alleges that in 2009, they gave a Warner Bros. employee a special tool that flags and takes down copyrighted files immediately. This was meant to expedite the removal of Warner Bros.' works from the site, Ars Technica reports.

Instead, Hotfile says that Warner Bros. abused the tool, taking downs hundreds of files that don't even belong to them. Some of the files include open source software and free games that clearly are not the studio's property.

This could be a legal problem for Warner Bros. Whenever someone files a DMCA claim they have to certify that they are the owner of the copyrighted property, according to Ars Technica. And, Warner Bros. is reportedly not the property owner of some of the files they've taken down using the tool.

Hotfile claims that Warner Bros.' rampant deletion of its content have harmed its reputation and business relationships and is violating the DMCA, amongst other allegations, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

But even though Hotfile sued Warner Bros. over DMCA violations, it won't be the end of the digital locker's own DMCA woes. About 5 studios, including Warner Bros., have already sued the website, meaning the company will face a tough legal battle even if Warner Bros. backs down.

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