The Motion Picture Assn. of America has accused Princess Cruises of illegally copying and showing movies on its ships.

A copyright infringement lawsuit alleges that movies are being copied and shown illegally in staterooms and teen centers as well as possibly being rented to crew members.

The civil suit, filed Jan.17 by MPAA member companies in U.S. Federal Court in Los Angeles, claims violations occurred aboard the Dawn Princess, Star Princess and Sky Princess.

Princess spokesperson Max Hall offered no comment.

According to the MPAA, Princess legally licenses films, either directly or through distributors from film companies, including all the majors. Those films apparently are then being copied without authorization.

The MPAA investigated the cruise line after being tipped off by a studio. It is unclear how long the alleged problem had been going on and whether it is continuing, but the MPAA says it was more than an isolated incident.

MPAA will not specify the amount of damages it is seeking until member companies determine how many copyright infringements were committed.

Last November, the MPAA sued the Lakefront Lines bus company for offering unauthorized video showings of such films as “The Untouchables” and “When Harry Met Sally.” That case is still pending.

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