MPAA Prepares Lawsuits Against Server Operators

Gretchen Gallen
LOS ANGELES – The frontal assault against movie piracy gained speed Tuesday after members of the Motion Picture Association of America announced plans to launch a slew of civil lawsuits against computer server operators that aid users in downloading pirated digital content.

As announced at a news conference in Washington, MPAA representatives stated that the lawsuits would be filed in both the United States and Europe against eDonkey, DirectConnect and BitTorrent and the tracking servers used to transfer data between users more rapidly.

The MPAA and local law enforcement organizations in various countries are also sending cease-and-desist letters to Internet service providers that host eDonkey servers and DirectConnect hubs.

The BitTorrent protocol was developed a few years ago to speed up the transfer of digital data by downloading it in sections. Typically, BitTorrent and eDonkey are not used to search for files like traditional P2P networks, but instead they download what are known as "torrent files" that collect data from hosted trackers.

BitTorrent uses U.S.-based servers and eDonkey has servers located in Europe, and both services have become popular vehicles for accessing movie files in the wake of prolonged legal troubles for Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster.

The MPAA alleges that these new types of P2P networks have helped online pirates steal hundreds of millions of illegal copies of movies and TV programs.

The MPAA has not released further details or additional file-sharing services that it plans to file suit against, but the announcement follows a series of lawsuits filed by the MPAA against several hundred John and Jane Doe defendants that use popular P2P file-trading networks such as Kazaa.