The US Federal Court ruled that the Chicago-based hosting provider Steadfast is not liable for copyright infringement, as it merely hosted an alleged pirate website. The judge didn’t see sufficient evidence to support a secondary liability claim.
Back in 2016, porn publisher ALS Scan sued several third-party intermediaries, including CloudFlare, one advertising network and several hosting providers, one of them being Steadfast. The latter asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that it was protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions. Steadfast indicated that it didn’t operate or manage the pirate website and didn’t in any way communicate with or interact with its individual users, but simply provided computer storage.
The District Court agreed that the allegations were not sufficient to hold Steadfast liable. It also noted that the porn studio failed to allege that Steadfast had the goal to promote copyright infringement or directly encouraged the hosted site to publish pirated content.
The vicarious liability allegation was also ruled insufficient, as it required the copyright holder to demonstrate that the hosting company had control over the infringing actions and that it financially benefited from them.
As a result, the Court tentatively granted Steadfast’s motion to dismiss, due to the absence of evidence and allegations to support a secondary liability claim. However, this court decision keeps the door open for the adult entertainment publisher to file an improved complaint. Still, so far, the hosting provider is winning the copyright battle.