LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood film studios filed suit against
online video file swappers in federal courts across the United States
on Tuesday, making good on a promise to punish computer users they
claim are violating copyright laws.
The move against people who copy and trade illegal copies of movies
and TV shows is part of broad effort by the industry's chief lobbying
group to stem copyright piracy it says costs studios billions of
A Motion Picture Association of America spokesman said suits were
filed across a broad spectrum of the United States, but declined to
say how many.
Earlier this month, when the MPAA announced it would begin filing
individual "John Doe" lawsuits, the number of expected suits was
widely reported to be in the hundreds.
The film industry is using the "John Doe" method, identifying swappers
by numerical Internet addresses, because an earlier court ruling said
Internet service providers did not have to provide names of their
The MPAA said illegal file swapping could cost a person found guilty
up to $30,000 in fines for each film.
The music industry has sued more than 5,000 people in their efforts to
stem illegal downloading, copying and sharing of digital music files
online via peer-to-peer, or P2P, networks.
The movie industry has been slower to use the courts than the music
industry. Films and TV shows require huge digital files that take a
long time to download, and few consumer homes have the necessary
However, as more broadband cable and telephone lines are installed to
households, the threat increases. Already, the MPAA claims that
illegal copying of videotapes and DVDs for sale in black markets
worldwide costs it more than $3.5 billion annually.
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