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Hollywood's One Strike Policy

By Cynthia L. Webb
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 17, 2004; 9:47 AM

Say what you want about the recording industry's take-no-prisoners approach to combating online piracy. At least when the music czars go after someone, they target persons suspected of trading hundreds or thousands of copyrighted songs over the Internet.

Not so the nation's movie moguls, who yesterday launched their own round of lawsuits against filesharers, bragging that some of the targets are people who downloaded and traded just one movie.

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"We need to nip this thing in the bud," John Malcolm, director of the Motion Picture Association of America's worldwide anti-piracy operations, told The San Francisco Chronicle. "One copy, he added, 'could easily become tens of thousands of copies available around the world. We do not believe that any amount of illegal use is sanctioned.'"
The San Francisco Chronicle: Movie Industry Sues File Sharers

To be fair to the MPAA, they're not going after someone who illegally downloaded a single copy of "Weekend at Bernie's II." According to The Wall Street Journal, "Single-file defendants who are targeted by the movie industry will likely be people who were sharing a movie that hadn't yet been released into theaters, said people close to the situation. The seven major studios, along with Lions Gate Entertainment, are all filing suits, for a total of more than 200."
The Wall Street Journal: Movie Studios Sue File Sharers (Subscription required)

Altogether, the movie industry filed around 200 lawsuits yesterday, according to the Los Angeles Times and Variety, though the MPAA didn't provide exact details or copies of the complaints. "The future of our industry, and of the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports, must be protected from this kind of outright theft using all available means," MPAA chief Dan Glickman said in remarks yesterday, picked up by washingtonpost.com. The suits shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been following online piracy issues closely. Early this month, the MPAA outlined its plans, saying it would target Kazaa and other file-sharing networks, the Chronicle reported, adding that Hollywood's antipiracy campaign has already "snared 52 million illegal DVDs in 32,000 raids in 60 countries around the world last year." If you missed it, here's Glickman's Nov. 5 Q&A with USA Today.
The Los Angeles Times: Studios Sue More Than 200 In Online Piracy Fight (Registration required)
washingtonpost.com: Hollywood Sues Suspected Movie Pirates (Registration required)
Variety: Pic Pirates on Plank (Subscription only)

The new suits, which were filed across the country, could result in damages of up to $150,000 per film illegally traded. The Associated Press got its hands on some more details: "One lawsuit ... targets 18 individuals and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis. Other lawsuits are believed to have been filed in New York, Philadelphia and other areas with large concentrations of high-speed Internet customers. Such connections are required to download the massive movie files."
The Associated Press via MSNBC.com: Hollywood Sues Alleged File Swappers

"As in the case with the anti-piracy campaign launched last year by the [RIAA], the movie studios are filing the suits without knowing the names of the suspected pirates. Instead, the studios filed 'John Doe' suits that cite unique Internet addresses. Once a judge takes the cases, the studios will subpoena the Internet service providers associated with the addresses to obtain the names of their owners," washingtonpost.com reported. This tactic is likely to face scrutiny from some ISPs and privacy rights groups who have already been battling the recording industry over releasing consumer information tied to the lawsuit claims.

But so far, ISPs are helping to get the word out that the MPAA crackdown is on: "Dean C. Garfield, director of legal affairs for the MPAA's anti-piracy unit, said Internet providers began alerting customers about piracy claims Tuesday. He added that the MPAA had already started fielding calls from some of the people facing suits," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Rated Illegal

As part of its campaign, the MPAA "is offering a free software tool that people can use to identify and delete all file-sharing programs and illegally copied movie and music files on their computers. The software will not report evidence of illegal content back to the studios, the association said. The tool will be made available at www.respectcopyrights.org, a site run by the MPAA," washingtonpost.com reported. Yeah, that'll be a hot download...

CNET's News.com yesterday noted that the MPAA's "lawsuits are being accompanied by a series of full-page newspaper advertisements, running in college publications and in mainstream titles including The Wall Street Journal. One of these ads shows a finger clicking a mouse, alongside a headline emblazoned in red: "Is this you?" That's followed by a long list of user names and IP addresses typical of those found on file-sharing networks such as Kazaa, eDonkey, DirectConnect, Grokster and Lime Wire, which are named specifically. 'If you think you can get away with illegally trafficking in movies, think again,' the ad warns." The full-page ad also ran in Tuesday's Washington Post.
CNET's News.com: MPAA Touts Lawsuits, New P2P-Fighting Software


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