- Swipe This! My boyfriend is addicted to porn. Should I leave him? 6 Years Ago
- How to stream Packers vs. Lions on Monday Night Football Sunday 7:15 PM
- College students burned author’s books after she spoke about white privilege Sunday 6:28 PM
- Texas police officer fatally shoots Black woman in her own home Sunday 3:44 PM
- Milo Yiannopoulos’ website dangerous.com was sold Sunday 1:42 PM
- First YouTube comment to hit 1 million likes is on Billie Eilish’s ‘bad guy’ music video Sunday 12:36 PM
- Girl says she was fired over exposing how Panera makes its mac and cheese on TikTok Sunday 11:34 AM
- David Harbour teased fans about Hopper’s ‘Stranger Things’ fate on ‘SNL’ Sunday 10:24 AM
- Kacey Musgraves accused of cultural appropriation–and botching it Sunday 9:19 AM
- Rihanna defends Vogue writer who received backlash for ‘winging’ interview Sunday 8:36 AM
- Here are the best PC games to add to your list Sunday 8:20 AM
- How to stream ‘Power’ season 6, episode 8 Sunday 6:00 AM
- How to stream Steelers vs. Chargers on Sunday Night Football Saturday 7:20 PM
- Popular TikTok teens accused of pretending to be gay for clout Saturday 6:38 PM
- Scott Walker’s ‘$26 haircut’ dig at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backfires Saturday 4:46 PM
MPAA barred from using terms like ‘pirates’ in upcoming piracy trial
Those opening statements are going to require a thorough rewrite.
If you ask anyone who works at the Motion Picture Association of America what they think of “cyberlocker” file-sharing sites like Hotfile and Mega, they’d probably declare the people who run them to be a bunch of “pirates.”
But they won’t be able to say that in court.
Ahead of the MPAA’s upcoming trial against Hotfile, a site that allows users to copy and share copyrighted media, a judge has barred the plaintiffs from using such negatively-biased terms as “pirates,” “thieves” and “stealing” during the jury trial.
“The parties may not use pejorative terms but may use terms of art,” wrote U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in a larger document outlining the rules of the trial.
The order won’t stop the MPAA from using such terms to describe Hotfile in the press. But the association will not be allowed to use such defamatory language in front of the jury once the trail begins on Dec. 9.
This lawsuit has been two years in the making. The group first brought suit against Hotfile and its alleged manager Anton Titov in 2011, according to Ars Technica. The MPAA accuses the file-hosting site of “massive” copyright infringement, including running an incentive program that paid users to direct downloaders to media stored on Hotfile.
Lawyers for Hotfile had specifically argued against the inclusion of terms like “piracy” and “theft” at the trial, saying it would improperly influence the jury:
“In the present case, there is no evidence that the Defendants (or Hotfile’s founders) are ‘pirates’ or ‘thieves,’ nor is there evidence that they were ‘stealing’ or engaged in ‘piracy’ or ‘theft.’ Even if the Defendants had been found to have directly infringed on the Plaintiffs’ copyrights, such derogatory terms would add nothing to the Plaintiffs’ case, but would serve to improperly inflame the jury.”
Williams sided with this argument over MPAA attorneys’ claims that terms like “piracy” are “often used in court decisions, statutes and everyday speech to describe the conduct in which Hotfile and its users engaged.”
Though this is a small victory for Hotfile, many observers still see them as the underdog in the upcoming trial. The website was dealt a major pre-trial blow in August when Williams ruled that Hotfile could not qualify for “safe harbor” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This means the site can be held liable for the actions of its users.
Tim Sampson is a reporter who focused on the technology, business, and politics beats. He's also an established comedy writer, with work on Comedy Central and in The Onion and ClickHole.