Hotfile, And Indirectly Megaupload, Get Some Surprise Help From Google In Court
Okay, things just got interesting.
For those of you not keeping up with the whole Megaupload and Hotfile court cases suffice it to say that while Kit Dotcom gets a reprieve of sorts in New Zealand, Hotfile was taken to court by the usual entertainment industry trade group.
Well it seems that Hotfile, and indirectly Megaupload, just found itself a friend in court as Google has filed a brief in federal court defending the file-sharing company in its case against the MPAA. According the the brief Google is accusing the movie companies of misleading the court and that contrary to the claims of the MPAA Hotfile is in fact protected under the DMCA’s safe harbor provision.
By using this argument much of the points being made by Google are also relevant to the criminal charges against Megaupload. As Google points out in the brief services like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia still exist in part because of the DMCA safe harbor clause but if it was up to the MPAA those services would be shut down as well.
“Without the protections afforded by the safe harbors, those services might have been forced to fundamentally alter their operations or might never have launched in the first place,” Google writes in the brief.
“The case-law uniformly rejects efforts to deprive service providers of the safe harbor based on generalized awareness that unspecified (or even ‘rampant’) infringement is occurring on their services,” Google writes.
The whole argument as put forth by the MPAA that Hotfile is predominately about storing and sharing copyright infringing files doesn’t matter, regardless to the number of infringements that there may be lodged against them. As long as the DMCA exists the only problem Hotfile would have would be if they knew about every single infringing file and didn’t have some mechanism in place to have them taken down – which they do.
Google also points out in its brief the fallacy regarding the charge by the MPAA that Hotfile only removes the links to supposed infringing files instead of actually deleting the files.
“But, in this respect, Hotfile did exactly what the DMCA demands, and plaintiffs’ takedown notices cannot be used to charge the service with knowledge of allegedly infringing material that those notices did not specifically identify.”
This is an interesting observation that does indeed make sense. While Google doesn’t mention it, removing the actual files would indeed be overbroad and wrong. For example, if an artist stores his files on Hotfile but wants to take unauthorized copies offline, he or she would not want Hotfile to delete the original as well. The same is true for YouTube videos and a variety of other content.
While some would have thought that the case against Hotfile was an open and shut one the fact is that now that one of the big boys, with a lot more to lose, has stepped into the party the landscape of this case has changed; and at the same time may have just give Megaupload a new lease on life.