MPAA to Sue Movie File Sharers4 Nov, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and member studios will begin suing people who trade movie files in violation of copyrights, the studio trade group announced.
“Illegal movie trafficking represents the greatest threat to the economic basis of moviemaking in its 110-year history,” said MPAA president and CEO Dan Glickman. “People who have been stealing our movies believe they are anonymous on the Internet, and wouldn't be held responsible for their actions. They are wrong. We know who they are, and we will go after them, as these suits will prove.”
MPAA member companies will begin filing lawsuits against individual file swappers across the country Nov. 16. The civil suits will seek damages and injunctive relief. Under the Copyright Act, statutory damages can be as much as $30,000 for each separate motion picture illegally copied or distributed by an individual over the Internet, and as much as $150,000 per motion picture if such infringement is proven to be willful.
“We all know that digital distribution is the wave of the future, and the studios have all supported legal download services in various ways,” Glickman said. “But we cannot allow illegal trafficking to derail legitimate new technologies that provide consumers with affordable, convenient access to high-quality movies on the Web. Trading a digital file of a movie online without paying its owners is no different than walking into a store and shoplifting a DVD.”
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill making it a misdemeanor to swap movies or music online without revealing the trader's e-mail address. He also issued an executive order banning the use of state resources, including computers and Internet access, to illegally swap copyrighted material.
“Theft of movies over the Internet impacts not only Hollywood, it hurts local businesses in every community in America,” said Bo Andersen, president of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA). “VSDA estimates that illegal downloading of movies is currently costing each video store in America, on average, more than $10,000 per year. Internet-based theft of movies is more serious than shoplifting, which virtually everyone regards as morally wrong and illegal. Those who flout our nation's laws by engaging in unlawful file-sharing of movies must be held accountable for the harm they inflict."