Tag Archives: steadfast

Hosting Provider Steadfast is Not Liable for ‘Pirate’ Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-is-not-liable-for-pirate-site-180403/

In 2016, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan dragged several third-party Internet services to court.

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

ALS argued that Steadfast refused to shut down the servers of the image sharing platform Imagebam.com, which was operated by its client Flixya. The hosting provider had been targeted with dozens of DMCA notices, and ALS accused Steadfast of turning a blind eye to the situation.

Steadfast denied these allegations. The hosting provider did indeed lease servers to Flixya for ten years but said that it forwarded all notices to its client. The hosting company could not address individual infringements, other than shutting down the entire site, which would have been disproportionate in their view.

With a trial getting closer, the hosting company submitted a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it can’t be held liable for copyright infringement. A few days ago California District Court Judge George Wu ordered on the matter, bringing good news for Steadfast.

Judge Wu dismissed all claims against Steadfast, including contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and contributory trademark infringement, which is a clear win.

Dismissed

The order clarifies that hosting providers such as Steadfast can be held liable for pirate sites. This is also the case when these sites are hosted on servers that are leased by a company which itself has a takedown policy, something Steadfast contended.

In this case, it is clear that Steadfast knew of the infringements. It could have shut down imagebam.com but failed to do so, and continued to provide server space to known copyright infringers on the site. All these arguments could, in theory, weigh against the hosting provider.

However, in order to be liable for contributory copyright infringement, ALS Scan needed to show that Steadfast failed to take simple steps to prevent the copyright infringements at issue. This is where the adult entertainment publisher’s arguments failed.

Steadfast forwarded all notices to its customer Flixya which resulted in the removal of the infringing images. In other words, the hosting provider took simple steps that prevented further copyright infringements.

“Given these undisputed facts, the Court would find that Steadfast did not ‘[fail] to take simple measures’ to prevent the specific acts of infringement of which it was aware. Steadfast took simple steps that resulted in all of the at-issue images being removed,” Judge Wu writes.

ALS argued that Steadfast should have shut down the entire server of its customer to prevent future infringements, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Service providers only have to take measures if they know that infringements occurred or will occur in the future. The latter was not obvious here.

“As such, the Court is not convinced that Steadfast had any reason, legal or practical, to terminate Flixya’s account and power down its servers,” the order reads.

Steadfast founder and CEO Karl Zimmerman is happy with the outcome of the case. He agrees that hosting providers have a responsibility to respond to copyright infringement complaints, but stresses that his company already has the right procedures in play.

“We already check and assure the content is removed, and yes, if the content simply stays up, that is concerning and shows that more could be done,” Zimmerman informs TF.

“We took action in forwarding the complaints, tracking those complaints, and validating the content had been removed. We did what was required of us, which is why I thought it was odd we were in this case in the first place.”

Hosting providers should take measures to help curb copyright infringement, according to Steadfast. However, shutting down entire services of customers who take down infringing links when they’re asked too, goes too far. Zimmerman is glad that Judge Wu agreed with this.

“To me, it simply does not seem reasonable to have to shut down a customer just because future infringement of their users is possible, when every indication is that the customer is completely law-abiding and I’m glad the judge agreed with that,” he says.

A copy of United States District Court Judge George Wu’s order is available here (pdf).

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

Repeat Infringer Policy Doesn’t Have to Be Spelled Out, Appeals Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/repeat-infringer-policy-doesnt-have-to-be-spelled-out-appeals-court-rules-180324/

The “repeat infringer” issue is a hot topic in US Courts, leading to much uncertainty among various Internet services.

Under the DMCA, companies are required to implement a reasonable policy to deal with frequent offenders.

This not only applies to commercial Internet providers, as Cox found out the hard way, but also to websites that host user-uploaded content, such as video and image hosting services.

Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order that provides some further clarification on how a repeat infringer policy should be documented.

The case in question was filed by adult content producer Ventura Content, which accused the adult-themed site Motherless of copyright infringement. While Motherless relies on user-uploaded content, the adult producer argued that it is liable for pirated content on its site.

In a majority ruling, the Court found that Motherless did not know about the alleged infringements before the lawsuit was filed and removed them within a day of being properly alerted.

This means that the site is entitled to safe harbor protection if it implemented a reasonable repeat infringer policy, which brings us to the crux of the case.

The operator of the site, Joshua Lange, is the sole employee who single-handedly deals with all takedown requests. The site also has a page informing users that there is a repeat infringer policy, without providing specific details.

The adult content producer argued that the site had failed to reasonably implement such a policy, but the Court disagreed, noting that the DMCA doesn’t prescribe a written policy.

“The details of the termination policy are not written down. However, the statute does not say that the policy details must be written, just that the site must inform subscribers of ‘a policy’ of terminating repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances,” the Court states.

In this case, the details of the policy were in the mind of the operator, who made his decisions based on a case-by-case evaluation.

“Lange uses his judgment, not a mechanical test, to terminate infringers based on the volume, history, severity, and intentions behind a user’s infringing content uploads.”

The fact that the details of the policy were not spelled out doesn’t mean that Motherless has no safe harbor protection, although this may be different for large companies.

“A company might need a written policy to tell its employees or independent contractors what to do if there were a significant number of them, but Motherless is not such a firm.

“So the lack of a detailed written policy is not by itself fatal to safe harbor eligibility. Neither is the fact that Motherless did not publicize its internal criteria,” the Court adds.

Surprisingly, the site’s operator didn’t keep any written logs of repeat infringers either. He simply kept track of them in his head and terminated more than a thousand accounts this way. This didn’t work flawlessly, as a few repeat infringers slipped through, but the Court believes it was good enough.

“It is tempting, perhaps, to say that a policy is not ‘reasonably’ implemented if it does not include both a database of users whose uploads have generated DMCA notices and some automated means of catching them if they do it again. But the statute does not require that,” the order reads.

Overall, the Court sides with Motherless and its operator and affirmed the summary judgment in its favor.

This case is unique in many ways. Among other things, it shows that written details or logs are not always required for a “reasonable” repeat infringer policy. While this could be different for large companies, it is likely to be referenced frequently in related cases.

This week, hosting provider Steadfast was quick to use the ruling to argue that it sufficiently adopted and informed users of its repeat infringer policy.

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A copy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is available here (pdf).

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

Hosting Provider Steadfast Maintains DMCA Safe Harbor Defense For Trial

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-maintains-dmca-safe-harbor-defense-for-trial-180212/

Two years ago, 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.

The case against Steadfast is getting close to trial and to start with an advantage, ALS Scan recently asked the court for partial summary judgment, determining that the hosting company contributed to copyright infringement and that it has no safe harbor protection.

ALS 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 described the site as a repeat offender, as it had been targeted with dozens of DMCA notices, and accused Steadfast of turning a blind eye to the situation.

Steadfast, for its part, fiercely denied the allegations. The hosting provider admitted that it leased servers to Flixya for ten years but said that it forwarded all notices to its client. The hosting company could not address individual infringements, other than shutting down the entire site, which would have been disproportionate in their view.

A few days ago California District Court Judge George Wu ruled on the matter, denying ALS’s motion for summary judgment.

Both sides made sensible arguments on the contributory infringement issue, but it is by no means undisputed that the hosting provider ‘contributed’ to the infringing activities. The court, therefore, left this question open for the jury to determine at trial.

“Ultimately, both sides have raised triable issues of fact with respect to material contribution. As a result, the Court would deny Plaintiff’s Motion,” Judge Wu writes.

ALS also sought summary judgment on the DMCA safe harbor protection issue, but the court denied this request as well. While it’s clear that the hosting company never terminated a customer for repeat infringements, it’s not clear whether it was ever in a situation where it needed to.

The DMCA requires Internet services to implement a meaningful repeat infringer policy, but in this case, Steadfast’s client Imagebam reportedly had a takedown policy of its own, which complicates the issue.

“While the fact Steadfast has never terminated one of its own customers for infringement is potentially damaging to its ability to fit the safe harbor, Plaintiff has not established that Steadfast faced a situation requiring it to terminate one of its users,” Judge Wu writes.

“Even in the present case it is unclear that Steadfast needed to terminate Flixya’s account given Flixya itself had a policy that was arguably successful at removing infringing images from imagebam.com.”

Judge Wu adds that safe harbor defenses are generally left to the jury, and this is what he decided as well.

As a result, ALS’s entire motion for summary judgment is denied. This is good news for Steadfast, who will have their safe harbor defense available at the upcoming trial. However, they will likely celebrate this win with caution, as the jury makes its ultimate decision.

A copy of the court’s order is available here (pdf).

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

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.