Google has joined the copyright/illegal sharing battle by leaping to the aid of the file sharing service Hotfile. The Motion Picture Association of America have a couple of lawsuits pending between themselves and Hotfile, but Google are citing the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) as stating that the responsibility for ensuring that copyrighted works aren’t being shared illegally lies, primarily, with the copyright owners.
Google’s amicus brief sums up their defense of Hotfile as thus:
The DMCA requires plaintiffs to show that the service provider failed to act on knowledge of specific infringing material and puts responsibility for policing online infringement [primarily] on copyright owners.
So in layman’s terms, it essentially says to copyright owners that they need to point out the individual acts of copyright infringement to services like Hotfile, and then Hotfile’s responsibility is to alert the user if possible and remove the material within a reasonable period of time.
In the event that after taking down the reported copyrighted material more appears at a later date, Google argue through the DMCA that if infringing files are being traded it is up to the copyright holders to report them. However this does seem like a sloping shoulders loop-hole for the file hosting companies.
If you run an establishment or service that could feasibly be used for illegal means that you could easily prevent, you have to be prepared to make sure that this doesn’t happen, or face the consequences of losing your business or your liberty.
Of course, this is a pretty emotive subject and one that shows no signs of going away. Do you feel that Google has a valid point or is simply being naive?