MPAA serves notice

Org to crack down on technology aiding piracy

The MPAA revealed plans Tuesday to crack down on servers around the world that help make movie piracy possible — while taking pains to project a pro-technology image.

As expected, CEO Dan Glickman and antipiracy topper John Malcolm announced at a Washington, D.C., news conference that the MPAA is working with authorities to take civil and criminal action against those who operate the indexing servers that help users find pirated pics on eDonkey, BitTorrent and DirectConnect (Daily Variety, Dec. 14). These three are the top P2P networks for film downloads.

Specifically, MPAA member studios are filing more than 100 civil suits against the operators of BitTorrent servers in the U.S. and U.K. and working with law enforcement authorities in Finland, France and the Netherlands to pursue criminal charges against operators of similar servers for eDonkey and DirectConnect.

MPAA also sent cease-and-desist letters to server operators on four continents and said it would likely take further legal action soon.

Malcolm said he’s hopeful cracking down on the servers that enable millions to download movies will have a bigger impact on piracy than the existing strategy of suing individual pirates.

The P2P industry reacted with its typical calls for Hollywood to work directly with operators of networks where piracy takes place to create legitimate business models.

“The MPAA’s action today against server operators is regrettable because it only exacerbates the divisiveness between the entertainment and technology sectors and fails to move the parties toward a long-term solution,” commented Marty Lafferty, CEO of the Distributed Computing Industry Assn.

But in an effort to mend relations with the tech industry at the same time it expanded legal actions many techies have opposed, MPAA brought out execs from tech companies not involved in the crackdowns to show off legal uses of P2P.

Travis Kalanick, CEO of Red Swoosh, talked about his firm’s work with studios distributing promotional content via P2P technology. Kalanick, who was previously a Hollywood enemy when he founded P2P network Scour, went out of his way to declare, “I have my own opinions about litigation, but I’m not here to discuss lawsuits.”

MPAA noted the inclusion of Kalanick had an explicit goal.

“We get a bum rap that we’re anti-technology,” Malcolm told Daily Variety. “When technology is used in innovative ways as opposed to being a mere leech, that’s a great thing.”

BayTSP CEO Mark Ishikawa, whose firm tracks online piracy but hasn’t worked for the MPAA, noted his company tracks 3 million-5 million infringements of intellectual property online each day and has seen as many as 6,000 copies of a pirated movie appear online the weekend after it opens.

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