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FileServe Hit With $1,000,000 Movie Piracy Lawsuit


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File-hosting service FileServe has been sued by the production company behind the independent movie American Cowslip. In a lawsuit filed at a federal court in California the movie producers accuse FileServe of several copyright infringement related charges and are demanding more than a million dollars in damages.

Over the past years several file-hosting services have been taken to court in the US, the most notable being Megaupload, RapidShare, Hotfile and Oron.

While these cases differ in nature, all companies have been accused of facilitating copyright infringements through their services.

FileServe is the latest cyberlocker to run into trouble in court. This week the Virgin Islands-based company was named in a lawsuit filed in a California federal court by Cowslip Film Partners, the makers of the indie movie American Cowslip.

The movie producers accuse FileServe of a wide variety of copyright related offenses, including inducement and contributory infringement. According to the complaint FileServe’s business is based on selling subscriptions to pirated material.

“FileServe is a website that sells access to large amounts of unauthorized intellectual property to the public, including California residents, without paying the rightful owners of that property,” the filmmakers write.

“FileServe is aware that its websites are being used as a vehicle to illegally copy and distribute large amounts of infringing materials. Because it charges membership fees for immediate access to the copyrighted materials stored on its servers, it is a distributor and seller of pirated materials.”

Under this general characterization pretty much every cloud hosting service could be branded a ‘pirate site’. The producers add, however, that they have advised FileServe that it was offering infringing copies, but that the infringements continued nonetheless.

“Between March 31, 2011 and February 7, 2012 Cowslip sent FileServe notices by letter and email advising FileServe that it was infringing upon Cowslip’s copyright in the work. Despite such notices, defendants’ infringements did not cease,” they write in the complaint.

Whether these notices where in the form of proper DMCA takedown requests and whether specific files were pointed out is unknown.

Cowslip Film Partners believes that FileServe is responsible for the distribution of the pirated copies and demands a jury trial. The movie producers want to see $1,000,000 in damages as well as the maximum $150,000 in statutory damages for each infringement.

This is not the first time that FileServe has been branded as a “rogue” website. Last year Paramount Pictures’ vice president for worldwide content protection identified the file-hosting service as one of the prime candidates to be shuttered next as part of any future U.S. Government action.

The current lawsuit does come as a surprise considering that the cyberlocker no longer allows users to share files in public. Immediately after the Megaupload raids last year the company changed its policy to only allow users to download files they have uploaded themselves.

Whether this will change anything for the pending case has yet to be seen.

Cowslip Film Partners previously sued Megashares in a similar lawsuit. This case was settled last year but the terms were not disclosed.

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