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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 00:15 GMT
Hollywood to sue net film pirates
Pirated Spider-Man 2 discs
Copies of Spider-Man 2 can be found on file-sharing networks
The US movie industry has launched legal action to sue people who facilitate illegal film downloading.

The Motion Picture Association of America wants to stop people using the program BitTorrent to swap movies.

The industry is targeting people who run websites which provide information and internet links to movies which have been copied or filmed in cinemas.

More than 100 server operators have been targeted in the actions launched in the US and UK, the MPAA added.

The suits were filed against users of the file-sharing programs BitTorrent, eDonkey and DirectConnect in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Finland and the Netherlands, the MPAA said.

"The operators of these servers exercise total control over which files are included on their servers and even determine if some kinds of files aren't allowed," said John Malcolm, the MPAA's anti-piracy director.

"For instance, some operators won't post pornography on their systems, but they have no compunction allowing illegal files of copyrighted movies and TV shows to flow through their servers. We are moving to stop that.

"The message today is clear: if you illegally trade movies online, we can find you and we will hold you accountable."

Multiple users

BitTorrent users can download movies by following a link to files which are found on websites called trackers.

Unlike most peer-to-peer programs BitTorrent works by sharing a file, which could be anything from a legitimate digital photo to a copied movie, among multiple users at the same time.

The movie industry hopes that suing the people who run the trackers will cut BitTorrent users off from illegal movies at source.

Last month major film studios started legal action against 200 individuals who were swapping films online.

The growth in broadband has made it quicker for people to download movies and the industry fears that if it does not take action now, it could suffer the same downturn as the music industry.

The MPAA estimates physical piracy like bootleg DVDs cost Hollywood around $3.5 bn annually, it does not have figure for net-related losses.

"People involved in running unauthorised peer-to-peer services are hurting the music business, film producers, legitimate online entrepreneurs and anyone else who relies on copyright for their livelihood," said Jason Berman, CEO of the IFPI global music industry body.

"Targeting peer-to-peer servers, which act as distribution depots for illegal material, is another way of containing the abuse of peer-to-peer technology by people intent on mass copyright theft."

How BitTorrent users download movies at speed

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