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MPAA Slaps P2P Networks with Lawsuits and Arrests

By Susan B. Shor TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Dec 15, 2004 12:51 PM PT

The Motion Picture Association of America continued its assault on file sharing, joining with police in Europe and the United States to try to stop defendants that John Malcolm, the MPAA's director of worldwide antipiracy operations, called "parasites, leeching off the creativity of others."

MPAA Slaps P2P Networks with Lawsuits and Arrests

Monday, a series of raids around Europe shut down several peer-to-peer (P2P) sites. Finnish police shutdown a BitTorrent site run from a residence and seized servers and PCs, according to Finnish newspaper reports.

In France, the BitTorrent site Youceff Torrents was shut down by French police. Two file-sharing eDonkey sites, called ShareConnector and Releases4U, were raided in the Netherlands.

The MPAA, in a press release, also said it was working to shut down DirectConnect.

Gunning for Big Targets

BitTorrent is the fastest-growing file-sharing system; more data is transferred across the Web on its network than on any other. It allows for the sharing of large files, such as movies or computer games, and has the capacity to allow multiple users to access the same file simultaneously without slowing down the process.

In addition, BitTorrent does not have a centralized network, but instead points downloaders to sites that keep track of where files are stored and available. eDonkey is the most popular file-sharing network.

Lawsuits filed by the MPAA in the U.S. and UK against BitTorrent target those who run the servers on the network. The suit claims that the defendants know what is stored on the servers and are, therefore, at fault for allowing the copyright-protected material to be shared.

The MPAA said it has its sights set on about 100 people, including those arrested in the criminal raids in Europe.

According to the MPAA, the film industry loses $3.5 billion a year on piracy, an amount it said did not include losses due to file-sharing.

Fewer Movie Downloaders

The moves are similar to those taken by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against music file-sharing, but the threat to the movie industry is not as severe, John Barrett, Parks Associate director of research, told TechNewsWorld.

"Hollywood is better off because video piracy is not as prevalent," Barrett said. "There are a lot of disincentives that there aren't for music," he said. Those include the quality of videos online, the amount of time it takes to download them and the fact that, as he put it, "after all that, you're still watching a movie on your computer."

Another factor making online file-sharing less of a problem for the movie industry is that it has a much more diverse revenue model. In addition to the sale of movie tickets, money comes in from co-branding deals, merchandising, DVD sales and fees from cable TV networks.

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