updated 08:55 pm EDT, Mon March 19, 2012
Search giant points to safe harbor provisions
Google has filed an amicus brief in the ongoing lawsuit filed by Motion Picture Association of America studios against file sharing site Hotfile. The search giant has accused the plaintiffs of attempting to "distort" the accepted interpretation of safe harbor provisions detailed in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
"Google is particularly concerned by some of the arguments offered by the plaintiffs, which distort the meaning of the statute and, if accepted, would unduly narrow the important protections those provisions give online service providers," the company wrote in its filing (PDF).
The safe harbor provisions are designed to protect service providers from infringement liability if they follow certain guidelines, including quick response to takedown requests aimed at copyrighted works posted by users.
In the original lawsuit filings, the MPAA studios argue that Hotfile is guilty of willfully encouraging copyright infringement activities by failing to address repeat offenders or remove files that appear to be similar to specific content listed in the takedown notices.
Google's amicus brief includes a number of references to the company's legal battle against Viacom, a case in which the court ultimately rejected the studio's infringement claims and agreed that the search company had met the necessary criteria for safe harbor protection.
"Plaintiffs do not mention this extensive body of case law, which is not surprising given that it decisively rejects the crabbed approach to the statute that they offer in their brief," Google added.
Although the Hotfile lawsuit was initially filed a year ago, the plaintiffs recently asked for a summary judgement to shut down the file sharing service. The studios likened the site to Megaupload, which was effectively shuttered this year by the US government as part of a criminal prosecution that has yet to make its way through the courts. [via ZDNet]