Judge rejects claims Cloudflare should be held responsible for customers' copyright infringement

'We don’t host the content of the websites at issue'


Cloudflare is not liable for any copyright infringement for content hosted on websites its content-delivery network supports, a US federal judge ruled this week.

The San Francisco-based concern was sued by wedding dress and gowns wholesalers Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs in 2018. Every time those two businesses shut down copycat retailers that were ripping off their dress designs and selling the clothes online, new websites would pop up to replace the counterfeiters.

In the end, the pair accused Cloudflare of copyright infringement for providing technical services to those sites.

“These internet websites, including ones serviced by Cloudflare which are the subject of this complaint, have manufactured, imported, distributed, offered for sale and sold counterfeit goods, including bridal gowns, social occasion dresses, prom dresses and other formalwear using copyrighted images of plaintiffs’ dresses, they continue to do so to this day,” according to the wholesalers' lawsuit [PDF].

“Cloudflare contributes to, and thereby enables, the successful efforts of these counterfeit websites to deceive the consuming public and violate the copyrights of Plaintiffs and other members of the formalwear industry,” it continued. The complaint was later amended with Mon Cheri Bridals as the lead plaintiff, which requested a jury trial.

Judge Vince Chhabria, sitting in a federal court in northern California, however, disagreed, and rejected the claims.

"The plaintiffs have not presented evidence from which a jury could conclude that Cloudflare’s performance-improvement services materially contribute to copyright infringement," he ruled [PDF]. “The plaintiffs’ only evidence of the effects of these services is promotional material from Cloudflare’s website touting the benefits of its services.”

It’s not the first time Cloudflare has been hit with claims of copyright infringement, the company’s head of risk, litigation, and employment, Patrick Nemeroff said: “Over the years, copyright holders have sometimes sought to hold Cloudflare liable for infringing content on websites using our services. This never made much sense to us.

“We don’t host the content of the websites at issue, we don’t aggregate or promote the content or in any way help end users find it, and our services are not even necessary for the content’s availability online. Infrastructure service providers like Cloudflare are not well positioned to solve problems like online infringement ... We agree with the district court’s reasoning, and we hope it goes a long way towards discouraging these types of claims in the future.”

The Register, which is a customer of Cloudflare, has asked Mon Cheri Bridals for comment. ®

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    We'll see you around the Block

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022