MPAA files first suits against movie file-swappers

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Tuesday announced that it has begun filing lawsuits against people who use peer-to-peer (P-to-P) software to trade movie files without permission over the Internet.

The MPAA filed an unspecified number of lawsuits in courts across the U.S., seeking damages and injunctions against the P-to-P users. Under the U.S. Copyright Act, people can be liable for as much as US$30,000 for each movie traded over the Internet, and as much as US$150,000 per movie if the infringement is proven to be willful. The trade group announced earlier this month it would begin to sue file traders.

The MPAA also announced it will soon offer to computer users a free program that identifies movie and music titles stored on a computer, along with any installed P-to-P software. The information collected by this program would be available only to the computer's user, according to the MPAA.

Users can ask the program to remove infringing movies or music files and any P-to-P software, the MPAA said in a press release.

"Our ultimate goal is to help consumers locate the resources and information they need to make appropriate decisions about using and trading illegal files," Dan Glickman, MPAA president and chief executive officer said in a statement. "Many parents are concerned about what their children have downloaded and where they've downloaded it from."

The MPAA also announced a new U.S P-to-P ad campaign, to be distributed to about 10,000 U.S. video stores. The Rated I: Inappropriate for All Ages video-store campaign is similar to an ad campaign that appeared in theaters, newspapers, magazines and on the Internet.

"Litigation alone is not the solution, but it is part of a broader MPAA effort that includes education and new technological tools among other components," Glickman said.

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