Hotfile, a file sharing website, found itself in hot water in Florida. A judge there awarded $80 million in damages to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and ordered Hotfile to either use a copyright filtering technology or cease operations.

Online piracy is not new. Music makers and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have long been fighting to benefit from their products that are being trafficked illegally. More than two years ago, the Motion Picture Association of America went up against Hotfile who was just recently found liable for copyright infringement. The judgment is a big win for the entertainment industry.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is intended to protect copyrights from infringement achieved via technology

Hotfile tried the ?safe harbor? provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act saying they weren?t liable for what their users did. However, not only did the judge find Hotfile?s position wrong, the court said the website?s principal was personally liable. Thus, US courts have decided that cyberlockers can be held liable for their business practices.

In 2005, Grokster, a developer of file swapping software, closed down when the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the company could be held liable for copyright infringement by users of its software.

Information may be free, but facilitating use of pirated material is not, as Gary Fung, founder of isoHunt discovered

isoHunt themselves did not offer downloads, but rather an index of online content that included pirated materials. Recently, isoHunt?s Canadian founder, Gary Fung, was hit with a $110 million fine to be paid to the MPAA for ?inducing? copyright infringement. Shortly thereafter, he thwarted a shadow group from saving the data that was located on the soon to be defunct site.

It is said that the MPAA is keeping a close eye on Web search engines that link to sites that host pirated materials. Gotta be careful of the company you keep since MPAA and RIAA seem to give credence to the adage: Birds of a feather ? flock together? or at least share files together no matter the copyright.