This isn’t to say that any of the publications who took the MPAA’s word on this were totally wrong: The judgment did find Hotfile liable for infringement, which can be seen as a “win” for the MPAA. But even publications that didn’t cede the headline to the movie group let the industry’s spin drive the story, with little follow-up to see if it was correct. Because, in this media environment, who has time to read a 99-page legal decision that comes out weeks after the press release announcing its existence? 

Disclosure: CJR has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to cover intellectual-property issues, but the organization has no influence on the content.


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Sarah Laskow is a writer and editor in New York City. Her work has appeared in print and online in Grist, Good, The American Prospect, Salon, The New Republic, and other publications.