Five major studios allege Hotfile's business is unlawful file distribution
The battle between movie studios and those it sees as making money out of their content without permission continues. Five major Hollywood studios are trying to get Hotfile taken offline, with its over 700 servers located in Dallas, Texas seizing or forcing the service offline should be easier than a service hosted overseas.
Hotfile is claiming safe habour under as part of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, that exists to protect service providers from prosecution, provided they act on reasonable requests for the removal of copyright infringing material. Alas the MPAA is pursuing the angle that Hotfile is not acting on these takedowns, in particular repeat offenders are not being banned from the service.
A large part of the court papers cover how Hotfile operate an affiliates system, where you earn based on how many times a file you have uploaded is downloaded. The money coming from subscriptions to the service, which start at $9 a month. Users can download material from the site for free, but are given slower access to the services and download limits. Hotfile has tried to be clever and not offer its own search system, with users distributing links and making the world aware of what they've uploaded, resulting in a growing number of file locker search engines.
Hotfile has recently made changes that go someway towards assuaging concerns of the MPAA, but whether it will be enough to stave off a closure notice is unknown at this time.
This case only highlights the fact that people are willing to pay for content, and while we see occassional promotions on legal movie download sites, the majority of rentals still run at £3.49, and purchases are still around the same price as the high street. Reduced prices for digital content will not wipe out infringing file sharing, but they may reduce it to a level where studio's will not feel their work is being abused. The rebrand of the Android Google Market to Google Play, has a range of movies available for rental from 20p to 99p as part of its launch promotion, the content will play on a PC or any of your Android devices.
The most annoying aspect is that for those who enjoy movies in their portable digital form is that you need multiple subscriptions to services to actually view content from the major studios. Another example of the complex rules that content is made available under, are shown by the fact that while Apple TV with its 1080p update is going to allow people to re-download content at the higher resolution, currently Fox and Universal content will not be available as there is a HBO 1080p exclusive deal in place.