MPAA Hatches Plan To Sue Movie File-Sharers

Another entertainment industry group has decided to try to staunch the flow of file-sharing by suing those who participate.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced Thursday that it will go the route of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which since September 2003 has sued more than 6,000 people it claims have illegally downloaded music files from the Web.

MPAA chief Dan Glickman, who took over the job two months ago from Jack Valenti, said the association, which represents the seven biggest movie studios, is only trying to protect the intellectual property of its members. Valenti was opposed to filing these types of suits.

‘Greatest Threat’

“This was not an easy decision, but it must be done now before illegal online file-sharing of movies spins out of control. Illegal movie trafficking represents the greatest threat to the economic basis of movie-making in its 110-year history,” he said.

In an interview with USA Today, Glickman said the MPAA estimates it is losing $3.5 billion a year to movie pirates.

Sharing movie files is not as prevalent as sharing music, partly because it takes a lot of bandwidth to download even a poor copy of a two-hour film. Glickman said the MPAA fears that as technology improves, so too will the ability to share free copies of movies over the Internet.

Lawsuits Soon

The MPAA will file its first suits Nov. 16, using the same method the RIAA used. It will first identify the Internet accounts used for the downloads and then subpoena records to attach a name to them. Civil suits will ask for damages of up to $30,000 from each person sued.

Glickman said the MPAA also plans to make it easier for consumers to buy and rent movies online and to educate them about copyright law. The MPAA Web site has a logo designed to mimic a movie rating tag that says: “I. Illegal downloading, inappropriate for all ages.”

But some argue that alienating your customers by suing them is not the best way to go about changing minds. And recent surveys disagree on whether the RIAA’s efforts have diminished file-sharing or just pushed it onto newer networks.

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