CloudFlare is a major CDN provider, well-known for its security features, including protection from DDOS attacks. However, the company has increasingly come under fire from rights holders for providing its services to pirate sites. A month ago, the Digital Citizens Alliance published a report criticizing CloudFlare for doing business with sites that hosting infringing content. However, the adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan has decided to go beyond criticism and actually file a lawsuit against CloudFlare. The suit also names the advertising network Juicy Ads as a co-defendant.
The suit explains ALS is facing declining profits, which the company attributes to piracy by stating, "There are no material factors to explain this decline other than the ubiquitous presence of infringing ALS content on the Internet." However, it states that the problem goes beyond pirates, but also includes service providers who "are helping pirate sites thrive by supporting and engaging in commerce with these sites."
The crux of the lawsuit is the fact that the DMCA requires service providers to terminate accounts of repeat infringers in order to avoid liability. Both CloudFlare and Juicy Ads have a publicly stated policy to terminate business with repeat infringers, but ALS accuses them of failing to live up to those terms. ALS sent both companies notifications informing them of several sites which each hosted thousands of infringing images. However, the two companies failed to act on these notifications.
The lawsuit claims that failing to act on the notices of infringement makes both companies liable for contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and contributory trademark infringement. The company is seeking damages no less than $10,000,000. It has been reported that Juicy Ads terminated business with some pirates sites after it became aware of the lawsuit, but that may not protect it from liability of its previous actions. Neither CloudFlare nor Juicy Ads have made a formal response to the suit.
Should service providers like CloudFlare terminate business with customers after receiving notifications of infringement from rights holders? Leave your comments below.