MPAA, RIAA File Copyright Infringement Claims

The motion picture and recording industries are opening up a new legal front in their attempts to prevent the Napsterization of the Internet. Today (Oct. 3), the Motion Picture Association of America

The motion picture and recording industries are opening up a new legal front in their attempts to prevent the Napsterization of the Internet. Today (Oct. 3), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued a trio of companies claiming they infringed their member companies' copyrights by delivering movies and sound recordings over the Internet.

The suits, filed in federal court in San Francisco are aimed at MusicCity.com, Inc. and MusicCity Networks, Inc., which operate the Morpheus service; Grokster, LTD; and ConsumerEmpowerment BV; which operates the KaZaA service.

In the suits, the industry organizations claim that "the infringing digital files available on and through defendants' network include illegal copies of hit sound recordings as well as recently released motion pictures, including many that are still playing in theaters and are not yet legitimately available in any other media format."

The groups claim that the films "Legally Blonde," "Planet of the Apes" and "The Princess Diaries" can now be found on the site. Sound recordings by Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan, and 'N Sync are also available on the service.

"The filing speaks for itself," said Jack Valenti, MPAA president and CEO. "As the complaint makes clear, those named in this suit have sought to profit from works protected by copyright, without obtaining the copyright owner's permission."

RIAA president/CEO Hilary Rosen said that shutting down copyright infringers was essential as they posed a threat to legitimate services being launched by the music and movie companies. "We cannot sit idly by while these services continue to operate illegally, especially at a time when new legitimate services are being launched," she said.

The RIAA had tried to take action against MusicCity previously. After being notified by the association, MusicCity shut down, but reopened in a different form, offering movies and music.

Copyright industry officials were confident that they can win the suit, which is similar to the one the industry successfully prosecuted against Napster. "It looks a little different, but it tastes the same," said Matthew Oppenheim, RIAA senior VP for business and legal affairs.