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Hollywood Filed Lawsuits against Piracy
2005-8-3 8:56:09      Xinhua
Major film studios in Hollywood filed a new round of lawsuits against individuals who illegally download and trade movies over the Internet, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced here on Monday.

The MPAA -- which has offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.-- said the film industry is continuing to aggressively target those who violate copyright laws.

The current litigation is part of a larger campaign by the MPAA to raise awareness of the consequences of movie piracy, according to the association.

"In the recent Grokster decision, the Supreme Court of the United States stated categorically that those who steal movies using peer-to-peer software are not above the law," said John G. Malcolm, the MPAA's senior vice president and director of worldwide anti-piracy operations.

Last November, the MPAA announced that, in conjunction with its members and other film studios, it would expand its campaign against film piracy.

Meanwhile, the association has identified many of the defendants by name since major Hollywood movie studios filed lawsuits against individuals who illegally downloaded or traded movies online.

Under the Copyright Act, statutory damages can be as much as 30,000 dollars for each movie illegally copied or distributed over the Internet -- and as much as 150,000 dollars per film if the infringement is proven to be willful.

Federal charges could mean up to five years in prison, up to 10 years for repeat offenders, according to the MPAA.

The association estimates that the US film industry lost about 3.5 billion dollars to movie piracy in 2004 -- a total that does not include losses due to illegal file sharing online.

Also on Monday, the Motion Picture Association -- the MPAA's international counterpart -- hailed what it called an unprecedented maximum jail sentence for a shop owner in Delhi, India, who sold pirated videos.

The MPA said the punishment would "likely ... have a significant deterrent effect on film piracy" in that country.

Devinder Singh, owner of Rosy Videos, was sentenced on July 18 to two concurrent three-year terms for copyright infringement and failure to display censorship and copyright ownership information, according to the MPA. Singh was also fined a total of 9,225 dollars, according to the association.

The penalties were the maximum permitted under India's copyright act, according to the association, which reported that previous sentences for copyright-related offenses had ranged from six months to one year behind bars.

Singh was arrested on July 5, 1998, following a raid by Delhi police, during which 405 pirated VCDs and 132 pirated videocassettes, among other items, were seized, according to the MPA.

The association estimates its member companies lose more than 896 million dollars in potential revenues each year in the Asia-Pacific region due to copyright violations.


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