P2P Pirates Face Prison

LOS ANGELES – Adult companies as well as their mainstream counterparts have been granted legal recourse for peer-to-peer network theft in a law approved Wednesday by President Bush.

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 is an expansion of a 1997 law that penalizes copyright infringement even when there is no money involved. For example, the existence of an unauthorized digital file of a movie on an individual’s hard drive is grounds for arrest.

“P2P” networks such as Kazaa and Limewire were not specifically named in the bill, but have often been the target of attacks for providing fileswappers the means to distribute illegally-procured movies.

Some porn companies feel that making content less easy to pirate is preferable to putting perpetrators in prison.

"We like to keep an eye on what's going on, but there's a general reluctance to put people in jail around here," PurePlay Media's Mark Thaler told XBiz. Thaler is the manager of foreign and digital distribution at the company. "We have to make our content less easy to steal," he said.

Thaler has searched for illegal copies of PurePlay's product online and says he always finds some. Still, he says the best deterrent is good digital rights management.

"If (PurePlay) were to have a staff of ten people only working on tracking down illegal Internet copies of our films, that group of ten people would be very busy."

The bill, whose lead sponsor was Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, garnered support from Hollywood, which has been airing anti-piracy ads in movie theatres for the past two years. Specifically, anyone who distributes a pre-market movie on the Internet can be imprisoned for up to three years. The law also requires the establishment of a pre-registration process for movies so that filmmakers can pursue infringement claims.

A section of the law came under scrutiny by civil liberties groups when it was in bill form. The section granted immunity from infringement claims any person or company who chose to edit purchased movies for home use--for instance, to remove sexual content.

Several companies offer products that will seek out and filter objectionable scenes or language from DVDs. However, the Hollywood-based Directors Guild of America stated that consumer editing systems would compromise the visions of films’ creators.

In addition, The Family Movie Act renews the charter of the National Film Preservation Board.