The notoriously litigious Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has for the first time filed a copyright suit against Hotfile - the first time it's gone after a digital locker service.
The MPAA, which represents some of the biggest Hollywood studios, says the company is facilitating 'unmistakable' theft.
"In less than two years Hotfile has become one of the 100 most trafficked sites in the world," says Daniel Mandil, general counsel and chief content protection officer for the MPAA.
"That is a direct result of the massive digital theft that Hotfile promotes. Everyday Hotfile is responsible for the theft of thousands of MPAA member companies‟ movies and TV shows - including movies still playing in theaters - many of which are stolen repeatedly, thousands of times a day, every single day."
The MPAA claims that Hotfile is not a legitimate online locker service. It alleges that Hotfile actively discourages the use of its system for personal storage, instead encouraging users to upload files purely for illegal sharing.
This is important, as there's nothing remotely illegal about locker services per se. But, says the MPAA, Hotfile also operates an incentive scheme that rewards users for uploading the most popular files - which are almost exclusively copyrighted works - and is therefore deliberately profiting from piracy.
Hotfile is operated by Anton Titov of Florida. The studios are suing Hotfile and Titov on vrious counts of copyright infringement in the Southern District of Florida for damages and injunctive relief.
It's not the only lawsuit Hotfile is facing - last month, adult film studio Liberty Media Holdings also accused it of copyright theft.
The full complaint is here.