Hotfile forks over $80 million to settle MPAA copyright suit

Along with paying millions of dollars, the file-sharing locker is also ordered to introduce copyright filtering technology or cease all operations.

Another digital locker appears to be on the verge of biting the dust.

Hotfile agreed on Tuesday to pay $80 million to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the Motion Picture Association of America. It was also ordered to cease all operations unless it instituted "digital fingerprinting" copyright filtering technology.

Hotfile is an uber-popular cyberlocker reportedly operated by Florida resident Anton Titov. The site made a business out of offering digital file storage and letting users swap files. The MPAA has alleged that Hotfile was "one of the 100 most trafficked sites in the world."

"This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone," MPAA's chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said in a statement (pdf). "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."

The MPAA began its quest to take down Hotfile in 2011 -- this was the first time a copyright infringement lawsuit was brought against a cyberlocker (although copyright suits had been brought against BitTorrent sites).

Since the MPAA first launched its lawsuit, dozens of copyright suits have been brought against other file-sharing and BitTorrent sites, such as MegaUpload, Isohunt, and Surfthechannel.

Not all cyberlockers have been deemed unlawful, however. In fact, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor protects online services as long as they obey some rules. However, in August, a Florida judge ruled that Hotfile lost its DMCA safe harbor protection.

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