Biz laments piracy's pinch

With an estimated 1.5 billion people accessing peer-to-peer Internet sites each day, the movie biz remains vulnerable to rampant piracy.

The number of digital files accessed on a monthly basis is equivalent to 500 million DVDs.

Those sobering statistics were spotlighted during a panel on piracy held at the Majestic Hotel on the Croisette. Panelists included Motion Picture Assn. VP and legal counsel Ted Shapiro and Independent Film & Television Alliance legal counsel Susan Cleary. Variety‘s Ali Jaafar moderated the sesh, which was sponsored by Peer Media Technologies and Sony DADC.

Members of the panel applauded recent legal victories, including the April 17 ruling by a federal judge in Stockholm that Swedish filesharing portal Pirate Bay was guilty of complicity in violating the country’s copyright laws.

And earlier this week, French lawmakers passed a new law that would bar Internet access to people who download pirated movies.

In late March, a working copy of 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was leaked on the Internet. Movie has grossed north of $250 million worldwide since its release on May 1, but Fox insiders said the pirated copy might have cost the movie millions of dollars.

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