February 23, 2006 5:17 PM PST

MPAA sues newsgroup, P2P search sites

The Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday that it sued a new round of popular Web sites associated with movie piracy, including several that serve as search engines but do not distribute files themselves.

The lawsuits mark an expansion of the copyright holders' legal strategy in the file-swapping world, targeting sites that help make downloading easier, but aren't actually delivering the files or the swapping technology themselves.

It's also the first time the group has sued organizations that direct their members to the Usenet newsgroup system, an MPAA spokeswoman said. The movie group makes little distinction between a peer-to-peer network and the search engines that point to pirated works, saying that all facilitate the distribution of copyright works.

"Disabling these powerful networks of illegal file distribution is a significant step in stemming the tide of piracy on the Internet," John Malcom, MPAA director of Worldwide Antipiracy operations, said in a statement.

The issue of targeting search engines rather than actual file-swapping networks themselves has been a touchy one in Silicon Valley, because ordinary search engines such as Google and Yahoo also can be used to find pirated works.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects search engines from liability for linking to pirated works, but only if the site operators don't know that the specific content is infringing, are not deriving financial gain from the links, and act quickly to remove the links when contacted by copyright holders.

Unlike a traditional search engine such as Google, the sites targeted Thursday are filled almost exclusively with links and references to copyright movies, software and music.

IsoHunt, one of the largest search engines targeted, does provide a copyright statement that says, "We respect copyright, and will filter such P2P links at your request."

The full list of sites sued Thursday include Torrentspy.com, IsoHunt, BTHub.com, TorrentBox.com, NiteShadow.com, Ed2k-It.com, NZB-Zone.com, BinNews.com and DVDRs.net.

Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Fred von Lohmann said that the courts had not yet ruled on whether search tools could be held liable for copy infringement. Most relevant cases, such as record labels' suit against MP3Board several years ago, have been settled before the issue has come to trial, he said.

"We haven't had a case that really tests the case of whether providing an indexing service by itself an infringement," von Lohmann said.

Thursday's suits are part of a growing series of lawsuits, criminal and civil actions taken around the world, as the movie industry works to stamp out the still-strong growth of film and TV show swapping online.

The MPAA has had a string of successes targeting sites that distribute movies in the BitTorrent file format, shutting down popular hubs such as Suprnova, LokiTorrent, and others. Earlier this week, the Hollywood announced that it had collaborated with Swiss and Belgian police to shut down a major European server called Razorback 2, part of the eDonkey network, which was allegedly used by as many as 1 million people.

File-swapping traffic has continued to grow globally throughout the course of the legal actions, however. Net monitoring firm CacheLogic estimates that P2P still accounted for more than 60 percent of overall Internet traffic at the beginning of 2006, with video files accounting for about 60 percent of that data.

Traditional peer-to-peer software companies such as eDonkey and Lime Wire have not been targeted by lawsuits in recent months. However, they have faced warnings from record labels and the MPAA that their turn could come soon if they continue to allow unregulated swapping online.

The MPAA previously announced an agreement with BitTorrent.com, the creators of the BitTorrent file-swapping technology who also run a file search engine. Under that agreement, BitTorrent agreed to take down links to feature films in its search tool.

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P2P, newsgroup, file-swapping, eDonkey, lawsuit

41 comments

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Where's the Line Drawn?
"The movie group makes little distinction between a peer-to-peer network and the search engines that point to pirated works, saying that all facilitate the distribution of copyright works."

Well, if that's the case, Microsoft is facilitating the distribution by creating an OS that the Bit Torrent client runs on. Mozilla is facilitating the distribution by supporting the display of the HTML from the search web sites. And here in California at least, PG&E is facilitating the distribution by powering computers that can both download and upload bits. And let's not even start on SBC, Verizon, etc. for providing a network backbone for these files to be shared across.

Man, everyone's FACILITATING the distribution of these works. Time to shut down the Internet!
Posted by Yoshihama1 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is right
Americans are getting screwed by the DMCA...WAKE UP!
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
I Agree
Let's ban clean air that's over 86% pure, for air is the medium through which sound travels. Let's outlaw gravity while we're at it.
Posted by troppp (58 comments )
Link Flag
I Agree
Let's ban clean air that's over 86% pure, for air is the medium through which sound travels. Let's outlaw gravity while we're at it.
Posted by troppp (58 comments )
Link Flag
Yep
And that is why Vista has such powerful DRM settings.
Posted by schubb (202 comments )
Link Flag
Just how dumb are you buddy?
I use Isohunt and I know what I'm doing. So do you, so stop being pedantic and acting like a kid wanting a sweet! As soon as we use it we know we're looking for illegal copies... that's the point of 'facilitating'. Sometimes I do actually buy the proper CD. It's just not worth downloading a film, especially in VCD form, for serious viewing. DVDs are good value, it's music that really pisses me off and I have to say I've downloaded a fair amount of stuff I'm glad I didn't part with hard earned cash. Still illegal though; there's no way of arguing otherwise.
Posted by pj-mckay (161 comments )
Link Flag
Not to mention all the other things that can be used illegally, do you have any idea how many hardware stores need to be sued for selling tools and equipment that can kill people, all shoe string manufacturers, all vehicle makers, any company that produces any product in which can be modified to a point that could be used as a weapon, and don't even get me started on trees (for allowing all people to live even those that commit crimes).

Indexing illegal things isn't illegal, if I had a book containing anyone whom committed a crime (the founding fathers, treason anyone?), that would be an index. I am going to get tackled the next time I try to write a report?!
Posted by tk911 (1 comment )
Link Flag
The MPAA and RIAA never learn
They get one site to close and another pops up. They closed the original Napster and plenty of replacements popped up. These sites might be popular but hardly irreplaceable. According the reports I've seen P2P use has grown instead shrank. I think the MPAA would be wise develop a service that takes advantage of BitTorrent for legal downloads, cause obviously there is a demand for downloadable content. Their current movie download services just well suck and the DRM forces people to watch it on their computer. The quality on the legal service is also sub-par (it might not be too noticeable on TV but on a high resolution monitor it's terriable) while the price to rent it is actually higher than what you'd pay at Hollywood Video, Blockbuster, or NetFlix for what you get.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
that is their idea
To make us all want to buy the cds and dvds and such, not download anything at all.

They don't understand that downloading music is popular.

After all, ITunes just got their 1 billionth download.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Link Flag
The irony...
If you think back when the RIAA went all anti-napster, mainstream America had never really heard of MP3s or even the RIAA and all the publicity that arose in the aftermath pushed MP3s to a much larger audience at a much faster rate than it would have if the RIAA would have just kept quiet. Now suddenly everyone was like hey, what's Metallica so upset about and what are MP3s... or you mean I can download these songs for free? Wonder how many new high speed connections were sold after the whole RIAA vs. Napster? :)

But yes, every site that goes down, another pops up. For every new one that pops up, another goes private and underground. It is a losing battle for them. It's better to embrace the technology than to attempt to stifle it. iTunes proves this.

What the RIAA needs to realize, that they were just a subject of bad timing. Dot.com bubble busting, onset of the recession, terrorist attacks, wide scale unemployment in the aftermath of 9/11. Basic microeconomics... people tend to conserve money in times like that. Food and rent are more important than $20 CDs. Not to mention for the first time in the music retail industry, it had the onset of new competition in the entertainment business. PS2, X Box, and DVDs all hitting around that same time. So do I pay for overpriced CD, get a DVD, or save up for a video game?

Thing is CDs are still way over-priced at brick and mortar stores, especially in malls. The markup on them is insane. Technology has increased to a point to where its cheaper and faster to create CDs now than it ever has been, so in theory, the prices should drop to reflect that change. Unless you are a blood sucking money leach like the RIAA. :)
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Link Flag
Failure to adapt leads to extinction ...
With digital technology advancing almost daily, hollywood and the music industry are quickly learning that they are grappling to save a dying business model.

Unfortunately, these major label companies are so used to making incredibly large margins on their products, that they have an obvious reluctance to adapt their business to their environment. Instead, they are trying to adapt the environment to their business model, and it is definitely not working.

Are the vast hundreds of dollars they receive from their silly lawsuits really compensating them for the millions they lose on the internet? Definitely not. Sadly, if they would only be willing to reduce their margins and begin to offer a quality, downloadable product, they would quickly recoup their 'perceived' losses.

The success of iTunes is proof that given the choice to either pay for or steal their music, an overwhelming number will actually fork out the money.

If the big labels do not adapt their business model soon; they will find themselves extinct as the simplicity of production and distribution of content over the internet quickly renders them obsolete.
Posted by PiratePete (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And adaptation can be so easy...
The fact that people are using their broadband 'net connections to download, in many cases, poor copies of Hollywood movies suggests that there is a clear demand for movies.

Instead of channelling money to their lawyers, what's preventing the movie industry from funding the development of technologies that facilitate the paid distribution of quality content? People have shown a willingness to pay Apple 99 cents per music track. It's almost certain that they will pay at least the cost of admission for a conveniently usable and quality copy of a movie.

Unfortunately for Hollywood though, they have still not learned a fundamental millenia-old economic lesson. As long as consumers desire access to specific goods and services not provided on their own terms, black markets will inevitably spring up to support that consumer demand. Hollywood has seen it with the rental videotape, the bootleg DVD, and now with P2P.

However, Hollywood will not likely become extinct. There's still a viable market for entertainment. People will still line up and pay to sit in a theatre to watch a movies. If the movie is good, they'll do it over and over again. They'll still fork out 12 to 20 bucks for a DVD. Hollywood will continue to, year on year, announce opening weekend and three week revenue records for new movies.

What will happen though is that Hollywood will instead find themselves spending more and more of their already exhorbitant profits funding losing battles against the consumer market in the pursuit of more money. And that's money that easier obtained by showing a lot less disdain for their consumers.
Posted by keith.in.trinidad (13 comments )
Link Flag
And adaptation can be so easy...
The fact that people are using their broadband 'net connections to download, in many cases, poor copies of Hollywood movies suggests that there is a clear demand for movies.

Instead of channelling money to their lawyers, what's preventing the movie industry from funding the development of technologies that facilitate the paid distribution of quality content? People have shown a willingness to pay Apple 99 cents per music track. It's almost certain that they will pay at least the cost of admission for a conveniently usable and quality copy of a movie.

Unfortunately for Hollywood though, they have still not learned a fundamental millenia-old economic lesson. As long as consumers desire access to specific goods and services not provided on their own terms, black markets will inevitably spring up to support that consumer demand. Hollywood has seen it with the rental videotape, the bootleg DVD, and now with P2P.

However, Hollywood will not likely become extinct. There's still a viable market for entertainment. People will still line up and pay to sit in a theatre to watch a movies. If the movie is good, they'll do it over and over again. They'll still fork out 12 to 20 bucks for a DVD. Hollywood will continue to, year on year, announce opening weekend and three week revenue records for new movies.

What will happen though is that Hollywood will instead find themselves spending more and more of their already exhorbitant profits funding losing battles against the consumer market in the pursuit of more money. And that's money that's easier obtained by showing a lot less disdain for their consumers.
Posted by keith.in.trinidad (13 comments )
Link Flag
MPAA sues film directors
directors facilitating the distribution of films by creating films
Posted by brian g--2008 (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MPAA HAS SUED FILM DIRECTORS
The MPAA has sued a certain film director. Although I am not sure you are fimilar with him, he goes by the name of George Lucas. If I am not mistake they sued him over displaying the credits in an improper fashion.

Now yes this is different then going after the consumers, but all in all it shows the MPAA unwilling to accept change in any shape or form. And this was in the late 70's - early 80's.
Posted by bobj123 (94 comments )
Link Flag
huh?
"The movie group makes little distinction between a peer-to-peer network and the search engines that point to pirated works, saying that all facilitate the distribution of copyright works."

That's like saying that phone directories are equally responsible for an advertisers bad or unethical business practices.

Someone should sue the MPAA for making the world a dumber place.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blog.bryanserven.com" target="_newWindow">http://blog.bryanserven.com</a>
Posted by darkane (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Unfortunately...
Although day to day people would agree with you...

Americans have allowed the lawyers to weigh in on this kind of cr@p an you are losing control of your FREEDOM of SPEECH and association.

The courts are already agreeing with this kind of attack on search engines and the like:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Nude-photo+site+wins+injunction+against+Google/2100-1030_3-6041724.html?tag=nefd.pop" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Nude-photo+site+wins+injunction+against+Google/2100-1030_3-6041724.html?tag=nefd.pop</a>

I suggest those that want to get involved in trackinig this stuff add <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.overlawyered.com/atom.xml" target="_newWindow">http://www.overlawyered.com/atom.xml</a> to their RSS feeds
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
MPAA/RIAA make noise to scar the pigeons..
Well, another great strike in the piracy lines, which will help... who? This just means that instead of going every night to Torrentspy to get my links to Smallville, we will go somewhere else.

My only wish: guys, speed up the development of independant search engines.. No web links, no tracking, let's try to be as anonymous as possible.

And I would love to pay 10/15 euros a month to download anything I want. The fault? RIAA &#38; MPAA most certainly. They are the one slowing down the progress. That was my 5 cents, keep it.
Posted by nap1805 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...
PeerGuardian anyone? :p

I work for a ABC / UPN affiliate, so I have one view on downloading TV shows, my boss has another. To me if we broadcast over the air, something that I can freely receive with an antenna, or dish... I should have the right to freely download it, since after all it was freely made available to me.

My boss on the other hand sees it a different way. As a broadcasting company, all of our money comes in from commercial sales. In addition to our TV stations, we also have 8 radio stations. So when I download Lost without the commercials, he sees that as a loss in revenue. In a way I can understand where he is coming from.

If it wasn't for sites like TorrentSpy, I'd missing out on many of my favorite TV shows. I play hockey on Wed &#38; Sun, so I miss Lost, Family Guy and American Dad. I pay for basic cable in addition to the middle DirecTV package, so I am after all paying for these shows. I'm glad that Lost is on iTunes now, and I have actually purchased copies just for my iPod... but at the same time, the quality of the iTunes version on larger screen formats is no where near the HD rips I get from TorrentSpy. So I download them from TS as well. So I've paid for these shows 3 times over, so downloading a copy via Bit Torrent should be well within my rights. Not to mention, I will undoubtedly buy the DVD boxset when it comes out, so why try put me in the realm of evil teen pirate?
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Link Flag
Why not sue Google
You can find the same stuff on Google so why not sue them? I'll tell you why, its easier to go after the small guy. I personally don't download movies, takes WAY to long. Cheaper to go to the store and rent it. I'm just tire of RIAA, MPAA and others suing individuals and nobody's to make their point.
Posted by Web-JIVE (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How the MPAA is shooting itself
I was an avid fan of a TV show. Once, I missed an episode &#38; I didn't record it. I thought about looking for it online, but I didn't feel like dealing with the hassle of "am I anonymous", "how can I cover my tracks," etc.

Guess what? I didn't die. I realized that it just wasn't so important. *IF* I had been able to get a decent copy quickly/cheaply, they would have still had my eyeballs slavishly devoted to their content and its commercials. As it is, I now sometimes watch. Likewise, I realize that it is not that vital to me if I see movies when they first come out. I'm content to wait until I can rent it or even borrow it.

If the MPAA continues to alienate its customers, and make them fearful, there will be a backlash. And what they fear most may happen: people will wake up to the fact that the content isn't worth it. With movie theater ticket prices too high and no good sources online, people may just decide that they don't care about getting "the latest and greatest" which seems to be so much of what the movie's business model is based on. Instead, they'll wait for DVD, or even eschew recent content for that vast library of old movies that is out there.
Posted by BlueBearr (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MPAA just don't get it
These people keep sueing people and P2P traffic is increaseing not decreaseing, you would think they would get the hint that what there doing isn't working. If they were smart they would work on useing the technology to work for them instead of trying to shut it down. Maybe one day the light bulb will go off and they will get it.
Posted by Rocker452 (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dummies...
I you read the judges ruling in the last Supreme Court case, they refer to "intent". I think the movie/music industry had the intent to shut everyone else out of distribution by creating digital content in the first place. As an ASCAP member I'm sure these formats have cheated me out of revenue all those years they were only accessible to record companies and rich people who could afford the equipment...shouldn't they be sued?
I think their own attempts at slanting the playing field have backfired. Now there mad....Waaaaaa!
Posted by cidman2001 (223 comments )
Reply Link Flag
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.storeingame.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.storeingame.com</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.storeingame.com/aoc-gold.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.storeingame.com/aoc-gold.htm</a>
Posted by ying1234567 (6 comments )
Link Flag
How to fix this
&gt; Net monitoring firm CacheLogic estimates that
&gt; P2P still accounted for more than 60 percent
&gt; of overall Internet traffic at the beginning
&gt; of 2006, with video files accounting for
&gt; about 60 percent of that data.

According to other articles today on this subject, some of these sites have small memberships (e.g. 25,000 members).

The funny thing about this whole digital download battle is that no one can point to any hard data proving that the industry is being hurt by the small percentage of people who use stuff like Bittorrent. Conversely, Apple is making a big deal out of the fact that they've exceeded a billion downloads via iTunes. So the math doesn't add up.


I don't know if consumers will ever tire . I don't know where the tipping point is before a major consumer backlash against the content industry tactics (sch as multiple formats of the same content, customers being sued, heavy handed DRM, and so forth) begins. But it seems to me that more and more anger is brewing over these tactics, and the content industries would do well to heed the warning.

Nonetheless, there is only one way to fix this battle, and that is a complete consumer boycott of MPAA and RIAA material.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Give us real evidence!
Give us real evidence, not corporate propaganda!

Where is the real evidence facts figures information, court filings ,subpeona's et al

Looks to me that the Judith M reporting of facts as fiction, is the rule rather than the exception in the mainstream corporate media!

Looks like 1984, is rapidly becoming reality, as the average journalist now files corporate propaganda as fact, rather than ask the six basic questions and the news editors conviently forget same as happened over at the New York Times, with Judith M.!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Down with MPAA And RIAA...
Listen people...
Do you remember history from grade school? Of course now the books have been rewritten but when I went to school they told about a tea party that took place in Boston. Seems the overbearing, unfair overlords had taken advantage to those who were unable to prevent it... At least until the common people agreed together that something had to happen... The secret? Unity! Alone I can do nothing. Together, we can change the course of the 'overlords' of entertainment.

Item #1: Refuse to purchase ANY form of media with DRM attached. There are a great number of performers that create and sell their own media... Support them. Contact your favorite (RIAA)performer's website and inform them you will not be buying their CD's due to their alliance with the overlords.

Item #2: Ask all political candidates their stand on DRM before elections. Follow up on their performance afterward. Make that performance public knowledge so that interested FREE citizens can vote out the liars. I would be very interested in this one... Senators, representatives etc...

Item #3: Boycott any operating system that adds to the already too stringent DRM abilities of MS. Can you say No Way to Vista?

Item #4: Any software that requires DRM to function should be returned to the manufacturer with the message that you do not agree with the EULA and demand your money back



Together we can break the slavery that the entertainment overlords have placed us under!
Posted by chhooks (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
.. more stupidity
I don't ever recall that files containing only HASH are illegal. The MPAA and RIAA are starting to get on my nerves, someone needs to shut them up and shut them down for good.
Posted by Fault (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would never use anything for downloading movies
To download movies the p2p or torrent dont work, usually wrong titles, bad copy. That is why I have net flix and game fly to have movies and games delivered to my house and my invaluable dvd recorder and 123 copy dvd and nero for my ps2 games. I know the copy im getting is real and authentic.
Posted by cpudrewfl (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MPAA
IT's NEVER ENOUGH FOR THESE GUYS...

--

"If you think you know everything, you should know about <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.enthem.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.enthem.com</a> by now"
Posted by stansoft (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
NEVER ENOUGH
SCARE TACTICS AS ALWAYS...

--

"If you think you know everything, you should know about <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.enthem.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.enthem.com</a> by now"
Posted by stansoft (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is the difference?

Either you download a movie which is pirating, or you borrow from a friend to view, or your at someones house and you still didnt pay for it? How about this one: your local bar is advertising the big fight on their large LCD's if you go and watch it...did you pay your $29.95 each to watch it on pay per view?...when there was 250 people in the bar watching it?

The point is this...the movie industry needs to allow us to D/L from them...charge us per D/L who cares...but in the format we want...and the quality we deserve... PIRATES would be a thing of the past (kinda).
Posted by hemptec (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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