Just over three months after the Motion Picture Association of America won an important legal victory finding file-sharing service Hotfile and its founder Anton Titov liable for copyright infringement, the site today took a fatal double blow. A federal court in South Florida on Tuesday awarded the studios and the MPAA $80 million in damages and ordered the file-sharing site to shut down unless it puts copyright filtering technologies in place. Coming just days before a trial was to start next week, today’s settlement brings to an end the MPAA and the studios’ nearly three-year legal action against Hotfile, says the Hollywood lobby group. “This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone,” MPAA boss Chris Dodd said in a statement Tuesday. “Sites like Hotfile that illegally profit off of the creativity and hard work of others do a serious disservice to audiences, who deserve high-quality, legitimate viewing experiences online.”
With a list of the thousands of TV shows and films that Hotfile allegedly had infringed, the original 2011 complaint had Disney Enterprises, Universal City Studios Productions, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros as its plaintiffs. As other file-sharing sites have tried to do in similar cases, Hotfile employed the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a defense. It was obviously a defense that was rejected by the courts. That was compounded by the MPAA’s 2012 motion for summary judgment against Hotfile to have the site shut down and for damages to the studios whose work it supposedly had infringed — damages they got today courtesy of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.