Hollywood pursues fake film sites


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May 24, 2005
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The body that represents the film industry is taking legal action against six websites posing as legitimate film and music download services.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the suits in New York state courts.

It accused the services of charging to re-direct people to file-sharing sites where they can access illegal material.

"We won't tolerate this scam premised on the illegal swapping of valuable movie content," said the MPAA.

The sites charge fees ranging from $20 for a three-month trial to $40 for life. Peer-to-peer networks are usually free to use.

The suit alleges that the websites falsely claim or imply that people can download movies legally through their services.

They are also made to look like legitimate download services because they make use of copyrighted images from top films.

"These scam businesses charge customers for facilitating illegal downloads of movies, which could lure innocent consumers into becoming lawbreakers," commented MPAA chairman, Dan Glickman.

Different action

The MPAA has taken aim at sites which let people share content via file-sharing and BitTorrent networks since last year.

File-sharing networks can be used to distribute legitimate as well as copyrighted material, and their position legally has been a sometimes fuzzy question.

The MPAA says such networks are severely damaging the film industry because of the amount of copyrighted material being illegally swapped.
But supporters of the technology say people want to use such networks to share content.

The current action is the first the MPAA has taken since June's MGM vs Grokster legal case.

In that decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that file-sharing networks could be liable if they encouraged users to copy movies, music and other protected works without permission.

In September, six major Hollywood studios formed a joint venture, called Movielabs, to develop technologies to protect their movies from the threat of electronic piracy.

The MPAA's Mr Glickman said there were plenty of legal movie download services now online, and such scam sites undermined their business.

In the US, movie services such as Movielink and CinemaNow offer online film rentals. But the US services only let consumers rent movies and TV shows to watch over the internet.

The UK is further behind in this, however. The British Internet Broadcasting Company (BiBC) launched a video download service in the UK called Boxoffice365.com in August.

But with the launch of the Apple iPod video player, an iTunes for movies could become a closer reality.

In March, Sony said that it wanted to create an "iTunes" for films. Sony films will be put onto flash memory for mobiles over the next year, and it will develop its digital download services for films.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/14 16:35:52 GMT