Entertainment Companies Appeal to State Lawmakers to Stop P2P's

Gretchen Gallen
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Representatives for the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America are looking to supplement their pursuit of copyright infringers by appealing to state lawmakers to pay more attention to consumer protection issues.

Attorneys representing the two largest entertainment trade groups met with the National Association of Attorneys General Thursday asking state prosecutors to help drain power from peer-to-peer services like Grokster, Kazaa and Morpheus by examining whether those services are breaking state laws.

Typically, copyright infringement laws are enforced at the federal level, and individual states have no control. But the MPAA and RIAA argue that in many cases file-sharers are becoming legal targets whereas it is the networks that are enabling the infringement. Additionally, they argue that the impact of P2P networks could have a resounding effect on statewide commerce.

"P2P networks pose tremendous piracy problems ... but they also pose very substantial threats to consumers," said Fritz Attaway, executive vice president and general counsel for the MPAA.

Attaway added that in many cases file-sharing networks like Kazaa and others do not properly inform users that sharing and downloading copyrighted material off the Internet is a federal offense.

Attaway and representatives for the RIAA pressed the point that states attorneys need to do more to protect consumers.

According to Attaway, in some cases prosecutors might have a case for protecting businesses like movie theaters and video stores from P2P software companies under state unfair competition statues.

"The vast bulk of material distributed on P2P networks are pirated movies, music and pornography," Attaway said. "And consumers who do so, knowingly or unknowingly, expose themselves."

In the meantime, a bill called the Induce Act is being reviewed by the senate which if passed would outlaw file-sharing networks and some consumer electronics devices on the grounds that they could be used for reproducing copyrighted material.

The Induce Act targets products like ReplayTV and all P2P networks that act as enablers for copyright infringement.

The Induce Act was scheduled to be introduced Thursday by Sen. Orrin Hatch, but the Senate Judiciary Committee said that the bill had been delayed for undisclosed reasons. The bill is expected to be introduced sometime next week.