Publishers and collecting societies are successfully sueing online file-hosting services where copyrighted materials are illegally downloaded.

In Germany, the Federal Court of Justice has ruled in favour of copyright collecting society GEMA, who sued file hosting service Rapidshare, alleging that nearly 5,000 music files were being shared without the copyright holders' consent. In the United States, file sharing site Hotfile has been forced to close after settling an $80 million lawsuit with the Motion Picture Association of America.

The German court's full judgement (which you can read translated into English), held that online file locker services which have a business model that provides an incentive to share copyright-protected materials are responsible for monitoring incoming materials to check if they infringe copyright. "How they do that precisely doesn't matter", said court spokeswoman Dietlind Weinland, explaining that the point was that Rapidshare and companies like it have to monitor regularly and comprehensively. GEMA called the verdict "groundbreaking" by establishing that online storage services are fundamentally responsible to rights holders.

In the Hotfile case, book publishers Pearson Education, John Wiley & Sons, Cengage Learning, Elsevier and McGraw-Hill have lodged a complaint with the US District Court in Florida, accusing copyright infringement. The publishers have submitted 50 books as evidence and are seeking $7.5 million in damages. A spokesman for the publishers stated that Hotfile had built its business around infringement: “Hotfile was aware that the vast majority of the files on its service were copyrighted. It received million of takedown notices under the Digital Milennium Copyright Act... Book publishers' rights were massively infringed by the site and its operators.”

You can read more details of the US publishers' lawsuit against Hotfile.

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