Tag Archives: steadfast

Hosting Provider Steadfast Fights to Keep DMCA Safe Harbor

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-fights-to-keep-dmca-safe-harbor-171230/

Last year, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan dragged several third-party Internet services to court.

The company targeted several companies including CDN provider CloudFlare and the Chicago-based hosting company Steadfast, accusing them of copyright infringement because they offered services to pirate sites.

More than a year has passed and both sides have yet to resolve their differences.

ALS Scan recently asked the court for a partial summary judgment, determining that Steadfast contributed to copyright infringement and that it has no safe harbor protection. If this was granted, the hosting provider would be in serious trouble.

The copyright holder argued that Steadfast refused to shut down the servers of the image sharing platform imagebam.com, which was operated by its client Flixya. ALS Scan sees the site as a repeat offender as it was targeted with dozens of DMCA notices, and accuses Steadfast of turning a blind eye to the situation.

In a new filing submitted this month, Steadfast fiercely denies the allegations. The hosting provider indeed leased servers to Flixya for ten years but says it forwarded all notices to its client.

The hosting company could not address individual infringements, other than shutting down the entire site, which would be disproportionate in their view.

“Steadfast had no ability to terminate services to individual users of Imagebam.com other than unilaterally shutting down the entire server which would have violated the law. Imagebam.com was not a pirate site when it was operated by Flixya,” Steadfast informs the court.

“Steadfast was not a direct infringer; Steadfast’s client Flixya was not a direct infringer. The direct infringers of the ALS content were the users of Flixya’s Imagebam.com website. Discovery has shown that many, if not all the infringers of the ALS content, were actually ALS’s own members who posted ALS content with impunity.”

Interestingly, the users who posted pirated images on the site were ALS Scan’s own customers. According to Steadfast, ALS took absolutely no steps to curb these infringements themselves.

Instead, ALS hired an agent, Steve Easton, to track down infringements on external sites and issue takedown requests. Steadfast received several of these as well, but believes it responded appropriately, even though the notices were not DMCA compliant.

“Once Easton sent his legally insufficient notices to Steadfast, Steadfast immediately forwarded the notices to Flixya. In turn, Flixya disabled access to the allegedly infringing works that were hosted on imagebam.com,” the company writes.

While ALS Claims that imagebam.com was a repeat offender, Steadfast sees things differently. They point out that Flixya is a service provider as well, and that they were the ones who had to address the alleged infringements.

It would certainly not be an “appropriate circumstance” to disconnect the servers of an entire website, not in the way Congress intended the DMCA to work, the hosting provider notes.

“An ‘appropriate circumstance’ to terminate a user does not include terminating a user who follows the law. Here, the facts in the record demonstrate that Flixya did not blatantly infringe copyright,” Steadfast writes.

“Rather, the facts show that Flixya complied with the DMCA. Flixya posted the required DMCA information on its imagebam.com website, had users agree to the terms of service, and informed users that his or her account will be terminated.”

The hosting provider wants the case to be thrown out, but ALS Scan clearly disagrees. According to the copyright holder, Steadfast should have terminated the imagebam.com servers.

“Steadfast maintained its own theory that if its own client was an Internet service provider, Steadfast had no burden to terminate services to its client, or indeed take any action, in response to notifications of infringement,” ALS writes.

“The law is that a service provider must stop providing services to whomever it is providing such services as long as such services materially contribute to infringement.”

It is now up to the court to decide whether Steadfast is indeed liable. If the company loses its safe harbor, this will have implications for the broader hosting industry.

It would essentially mean that large hosting companies are responsible for the infringing content that their clients’ users upload or link to, which could get quite messy.

Steadfast’s response is available here (pdf) and ALS Scan’s reply can be found here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

The Pirate Bay Isn’t Affected By Adverse Court Rulings – Everyone Else Is

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-isnt-affected-by-adverse-court-rulings-everyone-else-is-170618/

For more than a decade The Pirate Bay has been the world’s most controversial site. Delivering huge quantities of copyrighted content to the masses, the platform is revered and reviled across the copyright spectrum.

Its reputation is one of a defiant Internet swashbuckler, but due to changes in how the site has been run in more recent times, its current philosophy is more difficult to gauge. What has never been in doubt, however, is the site’s original intent to be as provocative as possible.

Through endless publicity stunts, some real, some just for the ‘lulz’, The Pirate Bay managed to attract a massive audience, all while incurring the wrath of every major copyright holder in the world.

Make no mistake, they all queued up to strike back, but every subsequent rightsholder action was met by a Pirate Bay middle finger, two fingers, or chin flick, depending on the mood of the day. This only served to further delight the masses, who happily spread the word while keeping their torrents flowing.

This vicious circle of being targeted by the entertainment industries, mocking them, and then reaping the traffic benefits, developed into the cheapest long-term marketing campaign the Internet had ever seen. But nothing is ever truly for free and there have been consequences.

After taunting Hollywood and the music industry with its refusals to capitulate, endless legal action that the site would have ordinarily been forced to participate in largely took place without The Pirate Bay being present. It doesn’t take a law degree to work out what happened in each and every one of those cases, whatever complex route they took through the legal system. No defense, no win.

For example, the web-blocking phenomenon across the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia was driven by the site’s absolute resilience and although there would clearly have been other scapegoats had The Pirate Bay disappeared, the site was the ideal bogeyman the copyright lobby required to move forward.

Filing blocking lawsuits while bringing hosts, advertisers, and ISPs on board for anti-piracy initiatives were also made easier with the ‘evil’ Pirate Bay still online. Immune from every anti-piracy technique under the sun, the existence of the platform in the face of all onslaughts only strengthened the cases of those arguing for even more drastic measures.

Over a decade, this has meant a significant tightening of the sharing and streaming climate. Without any big legislative changes but plenty of case law against The Pirate Bay, web-blocking is now a walk in the park, ad hoc domain seizures are a fairly regular occurrence, and few companies want to host sharing sites. Advertisers and brands are also hesitant over where they place their ads. It’s a very different world to the one of 10 years ago.

While it would be wrong to attribute every tightening of the noose to the actions of The Pirate Bay, there’s little doubt that the site and its chaotic image played a huge role in where copyright enforcement is today. The platform set out to provoke and succeeded in every way possible, gaining supporters in their millions. It could also be argued it kicked a hole in a hornets’ nest, releasing the hell inside.

But perhaps the site’s most amazing achievement is the way it has managed to stay online, despite all the turmoil.

This week yet another ruling, this time from the powerful European Court of Justice, found that by offering links in the manner it does, The Pirate Bay and other sites are liable for communicating copyright works to the public. Of course, this prompted the usual swathe of articles claiming that this could be the final nail in the site’s coffin.

Wrong.

In common with every ruling, legal defeat, and legislative restriction put in place due to the site’s activities, this week’s decision from the ECJ will have zero effect on the Pirate Bay’s availability. For right or wrong, the site was breaking the law long before this ruling and will continue to do so until it decides otherwise.

What we have instead is a further tightened legal landscape that will have a lasting effect on everything BUT the site, including weaker torrent sites, Internet users, and user-uploaded content sites such as YouTube.

With The Pirate Bay carrying on regardless, that is nothing short of remarkable.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Court: Hosting A Pirate Site Doesn’t Equal Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-hosting-a-pirate-site-doesnt-equal-copyright-infringement-170221/

Last year, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan took things up a notch by dragging several third-party intermediaries to court.

The company targeted CDN provider CloudFlare, advertising network JuicyAds, and several hosting providers, including Chicago-based Steadfast.

Steadfast was not happy with the allegations and has recently asked the court to dismiss the case. Among other things, the company argued that it’s protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.

“Steadfast does not operate or manage the Imagebam website. Steadfast does not in any way communicate with or interact with Imagebam’s individual users. Steadfast only provides computer storage,” the company wrote in its motion to dismiss.

In a tentative ruling issued this week, the California District Court agrees that the allegations in the second amended complaint (SAC) are not sufficient to hold the hosting company liable.

Merely hosting a pirate website is not enough to argue that the host contributes to the alleged copyright infringement on the image sharing site, Judge George Wu argues (pdf).

“In short, the Court is unaware of any authority holding that merely alleging that a defendant provides some form of ‘hosting’ service to an infringing website is sufficient to establish contributory copyright infringement.

“The Court would therefore find that the SAC fails to allege facts establishing that Steadfast materially contributed to the infringement,” Wu adds.

Among other things, the Court notes that ALS Scan fails to allege that Steadfast provides its hosting services with the goal to promote copyright infringement, or that it directly encouraged Imagebam to show pirated content on its website.

In addition, the vicarious liability allegation is insufficient too. This requires the copyright holder to show that the host has control over the infringing actions and that it financially benefits from them, which is not the case here.

“Here, the SAC contains no allegations that Steadfast has a direct financial interest in the infringing activity or has the right and ability to stop the infringing conduct,” Judge Wu writes.

As a result of the lacking evidence and allegations to support a secondary liability claim, the Court tentatively granted Steadfast’s motion to dismiss.

The ruling does keep the door open for ALS Scan to file an improved complaint, but for now, the victory goes to the hosting provider.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Hosting Provider Steadfast Denies Liability for ‘Pirate’ Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-denies-liability-for-pirate-site-170205/

steadfastCopyright holders are increasingly urging third-party Internet services to cut their ties with pirate sites.

Hosting providers, search engines, ISPs, domain name registrars, and advertisers should all do more to counter online piracy, the argument goes.

Last year, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan took things up a notch by dragging several third-party intermediaries to court. The company targeted CDN provider CloudFlare, advertising network JuicyAds, and several hosting providers, including Chicago-based Steadfast.

Steadfast is not happy with the allegations and has asked the court to dismiss the case. Among other things, the company argues that it’s protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.

“Steadfast does not operate or manage the Imagebam website. Steadfast does not in any way communicate with or interact with Imagebam’s individual users. Steadfast only provides computer storage,” the company informed the court in its motion to dismiss.

ALS Scan clearly disagrees with this reasoning. According to the adult company, Steadfast should have stopped the infringements on the website of their client.

In addition, the company says that the hosting provider can’t hide behind “safe harbor” protection as it failed to implement a repeat infringer policy, branding ImageBam a frequent offender.

“Steadfast could remove the infringements on imagebam.com, or the site itself, from the Internet. Steadfast financially benefited from the draw of infringement on imagebam.com,” ALS Scan wrote in its opposition brief (pdf) last week.

“Steadfast’s safe harbor defenses are intensely factual, not susceptible of resolution on demurrer. Steadfast failed to reasonably implement a policy of terminating account holders who are repeat infringers, and thus cannot claim DMCA safe harbors,” they add.

Earlier this week Steadfast responded to these and other claims by the adult publisher, arguing that the company is misrepresenting case-law.

The hosting provider maintains that the DMCA law shields it from liability. The repeat infringer argument doesn’t apply here, as they company doesn’t have the ability to control the actions of ImageBam users, among other things.

“In its Opposition, ALS states that in order to avoid liability for contributory infringement, a service provider must terminate services to repeat infringers. This is simply not the law. The service provider must have more power to influence the activity,” Steadfast argues in its reply (pdf).

It is now up to the California District Court to decide which side is right. In addition to Steadfast, several other defendants including CloudFlare are still trying to turn the case in their favor as well.

While ALS Scan is not an internationally known rightsholder, the case may prove to be vital for many Internet-based services in the United States. As we’ve seen with the case between Cox Communication and BMG, an entire industry is put at risk when a service provider loses its safe harbor protection.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.