The Motion Picture Assn. of America announced Dec. 14 that its member companies have filed lawsuits in the United States and the United Kingdom against individuals who operate servers that index "hund

LOS ANGELES -- The Motion Picture Assn. of America announced Dec. 14 that its member companies have filed lawsuits in the United States and the United Kingdom against individuals who operate servers that index "hundreds of millions" of illegal copies of movies and TV programs.

The move targets the newer type of peer-to-peer networks that rely on BitTorrent "trackers," eDonkey "servers" and Direct Connect "hubs" to index and efficiently deliver files of all kinds.

In addition to the civil suits, the MPAA said it is working with rights-holder organizations and local law-enforcement agencies in several other countries to pursue criminal actions against the people behind illegal file-trading servers. Law enforcement officials in Finland, France and the Netherlands have already taken action based on the information brought to their attention.

The organizations are also sending cease-and-desist letters to Internet service providers worldwide that host eDonkey servers and DirectConnect hubs. Notices have been sent regarding servers in numerous countries on four continents.

John Malcolm, senior VP/director of worldwide anti-piracy operations for the MPAA, says in a statement, "The operators of these servers exercise total control over which files are included on their servers and even determine if some kinds of files aren't allowed. For instance, some operators won't post pornography on their systems, but they have no compunction allowing illegal files of copyrighted movies and TV shows to flow through their servers.

"We are moving to stop that. The message today is clear: If you illegally trade movies online, we can find you, and we will hold you accountable."