MPAA sues internet movie traders

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Mr. Moody, Nov 18, 2004.

  1. Mr. Moody

    Mr. Moody Guest

    Hollywood sues suspected movie downloaders
    Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES - Following the lead of record companies who curtailed rampant
    Internet piracy by targeting even small-time file swappers, Hollywood studios
    have launched a first wave of lawsuits against people who allegedly downloaded
    recent films such as Spider-Man 2 and Troy.

    The seven major studios filed the lawsuits for federal copyright infringement on
    Tuesday in Denver, New York City, San Francisco and St. Louis. Lawsuits may have
    been filed in other cities, but the Motion Picture Association of America, which
    represents the studios, declined to say how many were filed and where.

    "It's not important," said John Malcolm, senior vice president and director of
    worldwide anti-piracy operations for the MPAA. "It doesn't matter if it's 10
    lawsuits or 500 lawsuits. The idea here is that there is no safe harbor."

    Three lawsuits, obtained by The Associated Press, were filed in federal courts
    in Denver and St. Louis. Two lawsuits were filed in Denver against 22
    defendants, while the one in St. Louis targets 18 individuals.

    The St. Louis lawsuit is brought against "John Doe" defendants, including four
    people who are allegedly in possession of one pirated film each. Some of the
    Internet addresses for the defendants can be traced to high-speed Internet
    connections made available by Charter Communications, a cable television company
    based in St. Louis.

    The defendants are accused of offering the movies over peer-to-peer file-sharing

    Like similar lawsuits filed by the record industry against downloaders of music
    files, the studios say they will be able to identify the individual defendants

    Each of the lawsuits lists only a handful of films allegedly offered for
    downloading online, including Troy, from Warner Bros., Spider-Man 2, from
    Columbia Pictures and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, from The Walt Disney

    The lawsuits seek injunctions against the defendants. Copyright law also
    provides for penalties of up to $30,000 for each motion picture traded over the
    Internet, and up to $150,000 if such infringement is shown to be willful.

    Malcolm said more lawsuits would be filed in additional cities if the current
    legal action does not stem illegal downloading.

    The MPAA is running the risk of being seen as too heavy-handed, especially by
    suing people who have downloaded a single movie, said Wendy Seltzer, a staff
    attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    "We don't think for any industry that suing its fans is the best approach to new
    technologies," Seltzer said.

    As part of its larger effort to combat piracy, the MPAA also said it would step
    up its educational campaign and offer a free computer program that sniffs out
    movie and music files on a user's computer as well as any installed file-sharing

    The MPAA said the program is expected to be available for download within a
    week. It has licensed rights to the program, which was first developed in

    Information detected by the file-detection program would not be shared with it
    or any other body, the MPAA said, but could be used to remove any "infringing
    movies or music files" and remove file- sharing programs.

    The trade group said the program would be available for the Windows computer
    operating system on a special Web site established to educate consumers about

    The program could be a useful tool for parents, especially if they discover from
    a lawsuit that their child has been downloading pirated movies from the Web,
    Seltzer said.

    The trade group said it would also join with the Video Software Dealers
    Association to place educational materials in more than 10,000 video stores
    nationwide. The materials will include anti-piracy ads that are also playing in

    With increasing success, entertainment companies are taking matters into their
    own hands to fight back against Internet pirates.

    The recording industry has successfully seeded hundreds of thousands of
    degraded, counterfeit copies of music files across popular file-sharing networks
    to frustrate computer users: These songs, for example, play for a few seconds
    normally then loop the same lyrics or play static.
    Mr. Moody, Nov 18, 2004
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