In a surprise move this week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has launched a multi-pronged legal attack on movie downloaders. The unexpected move has many film studios suing individuals who commit “online film piracy”.
The new initiative by the MPAA will target individuals who upload, trade, distribute or download films made by the member studios on filesharing, P2P and private networks.
Dan Glickman, the new President of the MPAA, stated that “Illegal movie trafficking represents the greatest threat to the economic basis of movie-making in its 110-year history.”
Glickman failed to note the real impact of downloaders. He also failed to answer for the nearly 25% increase in ticket sales, and 30% increase in income from video rentals which has resulted in more blockbusters this year than in any other year in history.
In fact, many industry watchers are confused as to the truth of the move. Obviously the MPAA has the right to attempt to protect its intellectual property, which is quite clearly being violated. However, the rate of movie downloads has far from hit critical mass with many download sites stating downloads for blockbusters in the hundreds and thousands, as opposed to the millions of downloads for songs and CD´s that are occurring.
The litigation being proposed by the MPAA doesn´t even name individuals at this point in time; it simply lists the individuals as “John Doe” until the real names are released by the Internet Service Providers of the users. If the real names are released at all, as there has been a growing trend towards protecting consumers´ privacy from cases such as this.
Still, the move is a logical step for an organization which has been contending with pirated versions for decades, but has never had a way to track the offenders. The lawsuits are nicely timed with several new pieces of legislation which put teeth to the principle that downloading copyrighted content from the Internet or from private networks is a criminal, and punishable, offence.
Earlier this Fall, a bill was passed in the House of Representatives (though not yet in the Senate) which would put large pirates, those with more than 1,000 files downloaded illegally, in jail.
The MPAA suggests that it would be more appropriate to use legitimate online downloading services such as CinemaNow and MovieLink.