MPAA accuses of aiding movie piracy

Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:29pm EDT
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By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Motion Picture Association of America on Thursday sued, a Web site featuring links to free -- and allegedly pirated -- movies and TV shows, claiming the site promotes and profits from copyright infringement.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, is the seventh action filed by the MPAA against content aggregators in the United States since late last year and is part of a larger anti-piracy campaign that included a criminal raid on the UK headquarters of one such site, TV Links.

The campaign against sites that link to, but do not host, illegal content has raised some eyebrows with critics asking why the association doesn't go after the host sites or Internet search engines such as, which owns video sharing site

"Is the message that it's less criminal to host illegal content on YouTube than it is to link to it from a site such as TV Links?" Guardian technology columnist Jack Schofield wrote in the wake of the MPAA-directed raid on TV Links in October. "In future, do I risk being thrown in the slammer for linking directly to a YouTube video?"

The MPAA, which represents Hollywood's major studios in government affairs, has obtained settlements or resolutions in the six other cases against Web aggregators of video content. It plans to continue its aggressive pursuit of new sites using "a variety of techniques" to force them to hand back profits made from advertising, anti-piracy director John Malcolm said.

The association has talked with Google and other search engines, as well as Chinese user-generated content sites that host many of the videos, to try to have traffic directed away from the infringing content and to have it taken down quicker, Malcolm said.

"We think these companies are good corporate actors (and) we engage with them in other ways," Malcolm said. "You can't equate a legitimate search vendor ... with somebody who is making a lot of money off the backs of creative artists."

The MPAA says piracy, including Web postings of camcorded and unlicensed content, cost the U.S. film industry $18.2 billion in lost profits in 2005, including $7 billion from Internet piracy.   Continued...

<p>A screenshot of, taken on April 17, 2008. REUTERS/</p>