The Motion Picture Association of America has gone on the offensive in its battle against piracy and peer-to-peer sharing of movies, and has launched more than 200 civil suits against users it identifies as being the worst offenders.
The organisation has filed between 200 and 300 lawsuits, according to reports, and the Los Angeles Times says it is particularly targeting people who pirate movies before their DVD release. Individual filesharers could be liable for $30,000 per illegally traded file, and up to $150,000 if the infringement is found to have been "willful".
"The motion-picture industry must pursue legal proceedings against people who are stealing our movies on the Internet," said Dan Glickman, MPAA's Chief Executive Officer. "The future of our industry, and of the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports, must be protected from this kind of outright theft using all available means."
As well as the legal action, the MPAA is launching a publicity campaign, taking full page ads in college newspapers, and the Wall Street Journal, and with the help of the Video Software Dealers Association, posting the adverts in video rental outlets.
The organisation, which represents Hollywood's biggest studios, says it will also release free software that will identify music, movies and peer-to-peer software on any computer. This is designed for parents who feel the need to check up on their kids' online activities, and other computer owners whose machines might be used by third parties. The software will flag infringing music or movie files, the MPAA said, allowing users to remove them. ®