- Jul 27, 2015
In a new complaint filed at a California federal court, Cloudflare stands accused of contributing to, aiding, and abetting copyright infringements. The company fails to terminate customers who are repeatedly called out and is therefore liable, the argument goes. The case in question was not filed by Hollywood or the major record labels, but by two manufacturers of wedding dresses.
As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe. This includes thousands of “copyright-infringing” sites, including the likes of The Pirate Bay, which rely on the U.S.-based company to keep server loads down and their location unknown. This is a thorn in the side of many copyright holders who have repeatedly complained about Cloudflare’s role. While the major entertainment giants generally take a diplomatic approach, others are taking their grievance to court. In 2016 Cloudflare was sued for contributory copyright infringement by adult publisher ALS Scan. This case ended in a confidential settlement this summer, but now there’s more trouble on the horizon for the company.
The new threat doesn’t come from any of the major entertainment industry players, but from two manufacturers and wholesalers of wedding dresses. Not a typical “piracy” lawsuit, but it’s a copyright case that could have broad effects. In a complaint filed at a federal court in California, Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs argue that Cloudflare fails to terminate sites of counterfeit vendors after multiple warnings. This makes Cloudflare liable for the associated copyright infringements, they add. “Plaintiffs have filed hundreds of ‘takedown notices’ with CloudFlare, consistent with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), but CloudFlare has failed and/or refused to respond to those notices by terminating its services to infringers,” the complaint reads. “As such, CloudFlare is liable for the infringements committed by its customers.” The counterfeit websites selling fake goods are not a new problem. In recent years the American Bridal & Prom Industry Association has filed lawsuits against hundreds of counterfeit sites, resulting in the shutdown of over 1,500 domain names. What is new, however, is that the wedding dress manufacturers are now trying to hold a third-party intermediary liable. The complaint also targets the unnamed ‘does’ behind the allegedly infringing sites, but the CDN provider is the main focus.