Piracy war rages on

Hollywood, France fight illegal downloads

The fight against piracy continued on opposite sides of the globe this past weekend.

Five Hollywood studios are suing China’s biggest online film service, Jeboo, and a Shanghai Internet cafe for providing illegal downloads of their movies. Meanwhile, a pioneering French antipiracy plan, backed by Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, has received thumbs-up from industry bodies in France and the U.K.

The case against Beijing Jeboo Interactive Services and Technology and Shanghai East Cybercafe was filed in the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate Court on Sept. 28 and the case is now pending.

Frank Rittman, regional legal counsel for the Motion Picture Assn. said that the MPA is coordinating the action on behalf of 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios.

Studios are seeking damages of RMB200,000 ($27,000) per title plus legal fees and court costs. Case cites 13 titles including “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “X-Men 2” and “Night at the Museum.”

Rittman said that Jeboo earns its revenues from providing technical services for downloading and streaming content to Internet cafes. Cafes then charge their end users. According to some estimates, more than 28 million people in China use Internet cafes primarily for watching movies.

Jeboo’s website stated it has nearly 30,000 movies and TV series obtained legally.

Rampant software piracy is at the heart of a trade dispute between the U.S. and China that is being probed by the World Trade Organization.

Meanwhile, an independent Gallic commission lead by Denis Olivennes, chairman of France’s Fnac entertainment stores, has recommended suspending offenders’ Internet access after three download offences.

In a parallel move, the French music industry will lift digital rights management protection on library product making many songs free-for-download.

“This is an ambitious, useful and intelligent contribution to the anti-piracy fight and the development of legal offers,” France’s SADC (Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques) authors society said Friday.

“The French government has recognized that the talent and investment of artists and innovators must be properly valued on the Internet if the digital economy is to achieve its potential,” said British Phonographic Industry chief executive, Geoff Taylor.

Its key is the support of French Internet service providers who will supply information on high-volume users to an enforcement body.

Industry bodies in the U.K. and Spain have been lobbying for such information with little success.

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