MPAA targets TV programme swappers

In a major escalation of its battle against piracy, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents the interests of the Hollywood film studios, has turned its fire onto Internet sites that specialise in swapping recordings of TV shows.

The organisation has filed lawsuits against six BitTorrent sites that, it claims, are responsible for the illegal swapping of millions of dollars worth of film and TV programmes. Amongst the sites on the receiving end of lawsuits are Btefnet, ShunTV and

According to the MPAA, these sites together support the illegal swapping of copyrighted material to over 100,000 people a day. As further proof of what it sees as evidence of this worrying new trend, the MPAA quotes Envisional figures that show TV programme piracy has risen by 150 per cent in the past year.

MPAA President and CEO Dan Glickman said ‘Every television series depends on other markets-syndication, international sales – to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy and those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen. On these sites, anyone in the world can download entire television seasons in a single click’.

Having seen what problems the RIAA has had in closing down music sharing sites, the MPAA has acted quickly to close off the burgeoning practice of swapping films before it becomes entrenched. The MPAA claims that it has already had success in closing down sites which promoted illegal file swapping including and which now display the message ‘you can click but you can’t hide’.

It is striking that the MPAA has gone after the p2p sites that facilitate the swapping of TV programmes rather than the swappers themselves. Conscious perhaps of the disastrous publicity incurred by the RIAA when it sued individual downloaders, the MPAA has decided it is better PR to go after the sites themselves. Many file swappers will see nothing wrong in swapping TV programmes that they have been recording quite legally on their VCRs for years.

The MPAA has a big job on its hands if it is going to convince the public that it is not only illegal but also morally wrong to swap programmes.

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