Software Gives Parents Chance to Snoop

As part of three-pronged, anti-piracy attack launched Tuesday, the
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) plans to release free
software to help parents determine what movie and music titles their
children have stored on a computer, along with any installed peer-to-peer
(P2P) file-swapping programs.

In addition to the snooping software, the MPAA filed civil
lawsuits seeking damages and injunctive relief against an undisclosed number
of P2P movie file-swappers and announced an anti-piracy publicity campaign
that will be rolled out in approximately 10,000 video rental stores

According to the MPAA, information generated by the free software program will
be available only to the program’s user and will not be “shared with or
reported” to the MPAA or any other organization.

“Our ultimate goal is to help consumers locate the resources and information
they need to make appropriate decisions about using and trading illegal
files,” Dan Glickman, MPAA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Many
parents are concerned about what their children have downloaded and where
they’ve downloaded it from. They will find this tool to be an excellent

The MPAA’s Respect Copyrights
site will link to the download site for the Windows-compatible program when
it becomes available.

Two weeks ago, the MPAA warned users
of P2P networks, such as KaZaa, eDonkey and Gnutella, that lawsuits
similar to the music industry’s campaign against music file-swappers were

Tuesday, the MPAA declined to either name the number of lawsuits filed, the
cities where the actions were filed or the P2P networks singled out.

Under the Copyright Act, statutory damages reach $30,000 for each
separate motion picture illegally copied or distributed over the Internet
and as much as $150,000 per picture if the infringement is proven to be

“The motion picture industry must pursue legal proceedings against people
who are stealing our movies on the Internet,” Glickman said. “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.”

The MPAA said the average number of infringing movie titles traded daily in
the United States through P2P networks ranges from 115,000 to 148,000
downloads. The film industry’s data says the average downloaded film is 1.35
gigabytes and takes 12 to 18 hours to download. Newer technology, the MPAA
claims, can reduce that time to three to six hours.

By contrast, the average music file is 3 megabytes and can be downloaded
from P2P networks in a matter of seconds. Since September 2003, the music
industry has been aggressively suing song file-swappers, filing more than
5,000 legal actions.

“These initiatives are part of our efforts to ensure the Digital Age does
not get commandeered by thieves who see it as an open grab bag,” Glickman
said. “The motion picture industry is embracing Digital Age technologies,
such as Movielink and CinemaNow, that will create so many exciting new
opportunities. But legal services such as these need a chance to grow and
thrive without having to compete against illegitimate operations that depend
on stolen property to survive.”

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