Monday, December 13, 2004
New MPAA lawsuits against BitTorrent, eDonkey expected
The Motion Picture Association of America is expected to announce new legal actions this week against operators of indexing servers for two major peer-to-peer filesharing networks. In the US, action is expected to be filed against operators of BitTorrent tracker servers; in Europe, against parties responsible for the hosting of eDonkey servers. The MPAA has not confirmed or denied that these actions are forthcoming, but have announced that a press conference will be held Tuesday to launch a "significant expansion of the global fight against movie piracy."
Participants in Tuesday's conference will include MPAA CEO Dan Glickman and Anti-Piracy chief John Malcolm; Mark Ishikawa, CEO of file tracking tech provider company BayTSP, and Redswoosh's Travis Kalanick (previously co-founder of the now-defunct P2P service Scour.net).
Update: Variety's Ben Fritz now has a story online.
[W]hile P2P networks themselves are still legal despite industry efforts to shut them down, indexing servers that help users locate and download pirated content are not.
The fact that the defunct Napster ran such servers, while Grokster and Streamcast Networks, defendants in the Supreme Court case, do not, was cited by lower courts as a key reason why Napster was ruled illegal but the newer networks weren't. Developers of BitTorrent and eDonkey don't run their own indexing servers. However, many individuals and groups involved in online piracy do, and they're expected to be the targets of the new legal crackdowns .
"If it can be demonstrated they lent substantial assistance to copyright infringement and had knowledge of what they were doing, it's a strong case that fits in line with Napster," explained Michael S. Elkin, head of the entertainment and media group at law firm Thelen, Reid & Priest. Several sources close to the MPAA confirmed the planned actions, although reps for the group weren't talking before today's press conference in Washington, DC.