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MPAA Sues Streaming Sites

30 Jul, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Motion Picture Association of America has filed separate copyright infringement lawsuits against two Web sites it said allegedly offer free ad-supported streams of top Hollywood movies, including Batman: The Dark Knight, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, 10,000 B.C., Hancock and Wall-E.

The civil suits, filed July 28 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, against Movierumor.com and Fomdb.com, claim the purpose of the sites is to further and contribute to the illegal dissemination of infringing works.

Operating on servers located in Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago, the defendants' sites offer home pages with embedded video players supported by third-party ads that attract 27,000 unique visitors daily and 97,000 pages of content, according to the complaints.

“There are many people operating illegal Web sites like these who are profiting from the theft of protected content,” said John Malcolm, EVP and director of worldwide anti-piracy operations for the MPAA. “We have filed several other similar lawsuits and will continue to do so in order to hold operators accountable for their illegal activities.”

The MPAA has filed seven similar suits against other sites since June 2007, and in May was awarded multi-million dollar judgments against Showstash.com and Cinematube.com.

Studios affected included Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and New Line Pictures.

Other titles cited in the complaints included Be Kind Rewind; Definitely, Maybe; Doomsday; Forgetting Sarah Marshall; Bee Movie; Iron Man; Dan in Real Life; Bad News Bears; Harold & Kumar: Escape From Guantanamo Bay; I Am Legend; Mr. Woodcock; Sex and the City; Speed Racer; and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.

The MPAA seeks unspecified financial damages from all profits derived by the sites, in addition to statutory damages and attorneys' fees, among other relief.

Studios, distributors, home entertainment and pay-per-view industries lost a combined $18.2 billion to piracy in 2005, including $7 billion from illegal online streams and downloads, and $11 billion in counterfeit DVDs, according to the MPAA.

In a disclaimer notice, Movierumor said it does not condone or support copyright infringement, and would remove any content upon the copyright holder's request. The site claims all content is derived via third parties and intended solely for trailers, promos and user-generated clips.

Both defendants were issued cease-and-desist notices in June, which the complaint said were ignored.

MPAA spokesperson Elizabeth Kaltman said, setting aside semantics, copyright infringement remains illegal.

“Our goal is to stop this kind of blatant and illegal activity, and that the studios will not hesitate to vigorously pursue litigation against these sites and others like it,” Kaltman said.

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