Even though P2P technologies like BitTorrent currently coordinate more than 150 million computers to work together around the clock to illegally automate content theft (in our opinion), EFF has filed briefs with the court saying that automated anti-piracy countermeasures are unfair. P2P technologies like BitTorrent and cyberlocker technologies like those used by Megaupload, Filesonic and 4shared are inherently automated. The scripts that paid uploaders use to drive traffic to content that they post illegally on cyberlockers are inherently automated. Why would EFF oppose using automation to combat automated piracy?
“Indeed, if Warner were correct, which it is not, Section 512(f) would become largely superfluous. Any company could sidestep accountability for improper takedowns by simply outsourcing the process to a computer. What is worse, copyright owners would have a perverse incentive to dumb-down the process, removing human review so as to avoid the possibility of any form of subjective belief. The tragic consequences for lawful uses are obvious: untold numbers of legal videos would be taken down, whether or not the uses were fair or even licensed.“
“Cloud storage sites like Hotfile are becoming increasingly important,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “But improper takedowns like Warner’s undermine their usefulness.”
We believe that what Hotfile is “increasingly important for” is massive distribution of copyrighted material without permission. Just try a couple Google searches with the word “hotfile” and any copyrighted content you can name. This search is for the movie Transformers:
By the way, the name at the bottom of this list, IMAGiNE is the name of a pirate group that just got arrested on Federal charges for uploading content to sites like Hotfile that EFF seeks to protect.
Sites like Dropbox offer the equivalent service and unlike Hotfile, Filesonic and 4shared actually discourage this type of public hosting and distribution of copyrighted materials without the owners permission. Why do groups like EFF defend these sites when legitimate businesses that offer file hosting and do not encourage illegal distribution exist? In our opinion this is because Dropbox, who appears to abide by copyright law, doesn’t drive advertising revenue for Google like Hotfile, Filesonic and 4shared do. Who sponsors EFF? Here is a link to a book that claims that the families of Google executives sponsor EFF.
Hotfile, Filesonic, 4shared and other piracy-focused cyberlockers (in our opinion) appear to sell subscriptions to access content they do not have the right to distribute and drive traffic to landing pages with links to find that illegal content. That entire process is automated. We believe that they, or their uploaders, have software that combs the BitTorrent networks and finds the latests music and movies, uploads it and then create landing pages to announce to the world on Google that they have the content available for distribution without permission. They may claim that only uploaders do this, rather than their employees, but as we saw in the Megaupload case, money flows to many of these uploaders who are essentially employees of the cyberlocker. The offer from Hotfile to pay people to do this is posted on this page below. In the Google search above, there are more than 3.8 million hits on “hotfile transformers.” We find it hard to believe that millions of links were populated for one movie and one website without automation. At the very least, their uploaders have automation and copyright owners should ethically be able to use automation to combat automated piracy. What is unfair is that in our opinion, they abuse the DMCA and require the content owner to identify these links to their content and send takedown notices. Hotfile and others may process some takedown notices but it appears to us that they do not take down content until they have sold subscriptions, served plenty of subscribers the illegal content and both they and Google have profited from ads served on the pages that accomplished this. Once it is removed, their automated process or those of their uploaders, just goes out and posts new links to the same content.
The Google search “hotfile adele” brought me to this page featuring ads served by Google – see URL in lower right corner.
Which led me to this screen of Hotfile wanting to charge me money to illegally download an album to me that we doubt they have the legal rights to distribute.
Better yet, Hotfile appears to be sharing their profits from illegally distributing content with the uploaders.
All of these links are compiled through automation coordinated by a business that in our opinion is similar to organized crime. Rather than fighting for the rights of people who work to create content, EFF appears to fight for the rights of organized for-profit enterprises who appear to us to be breaking the law and appear to be profiting from illegally distributing digital goods with no intention of ever paying the owners or creators.