Uh Oh: Movie Studios Are Now Suing Private File Sharing Services

Disney, Fox, Universal, Columbia and Warner Bros. have locked on to their next target in the battle against movie piracy—web-based digital locker site Hotfile. Claiming the site encourages and even rewards users via its affiliate system for sharing copyrighted material, the court papers were filed in Miami yesterday.

Here's a snippet from the declaration of war [PDF] from the MPAA legal team:

"Hotfile profits from this theft by charging a monthly fee to users who download content from its servers. Hotfile also operates an incentive scheme that rewards users for uploading the most popular files — which are almost exclusively copyrighted works. Hotfile profits richly while paying nothing to the studios for their stolen content"

In its defence, Hotfile does have a lengthy Intellectual Property disclaimer on the site in which it claims to be fully compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but it would appear the movie studios aren't happy about having to comb the site and list each individual infringement any more. They just want it gone.

According to web traffic monitor Alexa, Hotfile has become one of the world's most trafficked sites in the last two years and currently sits on 49th place in its daily traffic rank charts. The site charges $9 for one month of unlimited downloading and... we'll stop there before we become accessories to its possible crimes.

There's always usenet. They'll never get to usenet. [Court papers [PDF] via Reuters]