Civil suit seeks damages from Internet pirates.

The major motion picture studios have filed a fifth round of lawsuits against Internet movie pirates, according to a release issued today (June 2) from the Motion Picture Association of America.

The civil suits seek damages and injunctive relief. Statutory damages can be as high as $30,000 for each illegally copied film and an additional $150,000 per film if the infringement is proven willful.

"These lawsuits are helping us raise awareness about the consequences of stealing movies using the Internet," said John G. Malcolm, the MPAA's senior VP and director of worldwide anti-piracy, in a statement. "There is something very disturbing about the fact that major blockbuster hits such as Star Wars III are available illegally on the Internet before they are even released in movie theaters. People swapping movies illegally online need to understand that this is theft and they will be held accountable."

The MPAA estimates that the film industry lost about $3.5 billion in revenues due to piracy last year.

MPAA member companies announced that its first round of lawsuits was coming last November. Since then, a number of major P2P sites have been shut down as a result including Elite Torrents, LokiTorrent, ShunTV.net and BtefNet.net.