MPAA Sues Individuals Over Swapping

They can click, says MPAA, but they can't hide.

The Motion Picture Association of America Friday said it has filed suit against a Washington, D.C., individual for illegally swapping movies over a peer-to-peer computer network.

MPAA pledged last fall to start going after what it says were illegal file swappers, armed with the Supreme Court's decision in the Grokster case buttressing content owners' case against Internet distribution of movies, TV shows and other content.

Look for more suits as the association pursues file traders it has identified.

In November, major studios filed suits against a number of individuals as "end-users who have illegally downloaded or traded movies via the Internet."

Some settled, and now the studios are going after those who didn't in individual suits.

The suits seek as much as $30,000 (per Copyright Act statutory damages), or as much as $150,000 if the distribution is "willful." There could also be as much as 5 years prison time for first offenders, 10 for repeat.

“We won’t stand by while people steal valuable copyrighted material with no regard whatsoever for the law or for the rights of creative people to be paid for their efforts," said John G. Malcolm, MPAA executive VP and Director of Worldwide anti-piracy operations. "With these lawsuits, our message to Internet thieves becomes loud and clear - you are not anonymous, we will find you, and you will be held responsible: You can click but you can’t hide.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.