MPAA now suing newsgroup and P2P search sites

The group’s legal strategy has widened, now encompassing web sites that it claims make downloading of films easier.
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The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has expanded the range of targets that it considers movie pirates. This time the Hollywood trade group has sued a round of popular Web sites that write about movies, including several that serve as search engines but do not distribute actual movie files themselves, CNET News reported.

The MPAA’s legal strategy has widened, now encompassing Web sites that it claims make downloading of films easier. Those being sued don’t actually deliver movie files or engage in the swapping of movies files.

CNET said its the first time the MPAA has sued organizations that direct their members to the Usenet newsgroup system. The studio owners, the report noted, make little distinction between a peer-to-peer network and the search engines that point to pirated works, arguing that all facilitate the distribution of copyright works.

John Malcom, MPAA director of Worldwide Antipiracy operations, said that it is necessary to disable these networks in order to stem the tide of piracy on the Internet.

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

Unlike a traditional search engine, the sites targeted by the MPAA are filled with links and references to copyright movies, software and music. In addition to handling the playout, the Morpheus system allows material to be transferred from Atlanta to Buenos Aires and vice versa. One of the largest search engines targeted, IsoHunt.com, does provide a copyright statement that says, “We respect copyright, and will filter such P2P links at your request.”

In addition to IsoHunt, sites sued by the MPAA include Torrentspy.com, BTHub.com, TorrentBox.com, NiteShadow.com, Ed2k-It.com, NZB-Zone.com, BinNews.com and DVDRs.net.

The federal courts have yet to rule on whether search engineers can be held liable for copyright infringement.

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