Warner Bros. on Monday admitted to removing content from Hotfile.com that
Warner never even looked at and didn’t actually own. The
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), currently pending in the House of
Representatives, give companies like Warner incredible new levels of power that
they have never had under the DMCA.
If Warner’s recklessness under the current legal framework shows us
anything, it’s that Congress’ proposition to give these kinds of companies even
greater power is about as sensible as parents giving to their teenager the keys
to the brand new family car after he just got a DUI crashing the old one.
Today, the MPAA and other movie industry groups sent a letter to the Senate urging them to pass S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act. The letter attempts to handwave away real questions about the bill's effects on security and free speech with some awfully weak arguments embedded within its refrains of "piracy is a problem" and "we are a big industry."
No one contests that movies are a big industry, or that there's a lot of infringement on the Internet. But those aren't the questions before Congress. The question really is whether S. 968 does any net good. And from here, it certainly doesn't look like it.
Hotfile, an online locker service, went beyond its legal obligations to accommodate movie studio Warner Bros. to take down infringing content from Hotfile’s site. Warner is even quoted as praising Hotfile’s efforts and suggesting that Hotfile provide the same service to other content owners. So what did Hotfile get in return? Warner wrongfully deleted files it didn’t own and then sued Hotfile with four other major studios, all represented by the MPAA, claiming Hotfile’s service carried out “unabashed theft” of their copyrighted works. Betrayed Hotfile is now fighting back with a counterclaim against Warner for DMCA violations and fraud.
The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“We welcome Senator Dodd to the MPAA and wish him good luck in his new role. We hope that he and his members will come to realize that technology is not your enemy -- that instead technology can be the greatest means of distributing content the industry has ever seen. The industry should look on new developments as opportunities, not as barriers, to building the industry.”