On June 30, 2010 the U.S. federal government made a major move towards combating copyright infringement and began to put Internet movie pirates out of business when several popular websites that allegedly share illegal movie downloads were seized.
The shutdowns didn’t occur immediately, but the agencies involved assure that they will be out of commission in the near future if not sooner.
The sites that were targeted for breaking copyright law offered current movies available. Site visitors were able to easily gain access to films not yet available for purchase or even still in the theatres.
One piracy site, Movies-Links.TV, which reportedly links to illegal downloads for first-run movies; the website gets over 3 million visitors a month. That is some major web traffic. With this kind of traffic on just one of the movie sharing websites, it kind of makes you wonder if maybe the Motion Picture Association of America isn’t all that far off with their claims of losing billions of dollars a year to piracy if the other websites do anything remotely in that ball park range.
Other web sites seized were TVShack.net, Now-Movies.com, ThePirateCity.org, Filespump.com, Planetmoviez.com, Ninjavideo.net, and NinjaThis.net and ZML.com.
These websites are listed in two continents, Europe and the U.S. Three in the U.S., one in Germany, one in Czech Republic, one in the U.K. and another in the Netherlands. In addition bank accounts were seized and warrants were issued in several states.
Some of the websites reportedly had been allowing access to movies such as “Toy Story 3”, “The Karate Kid”, and “The A-Team”. The Wall Street Journal reports “Some of the sites allowed users to directly upload, download and stream the content, while others gathered links to the sites that hosted the content”.
With this move to seize assets and shut down areas of the web the U.S. Government has made a strong statement when it comes to copyright and intellectual property laws. Some of the sites, such as PlantetMoviez, had disclaimers such which stated the owners were providing a service to legal copyright owners by giving them the ability to self-publish and that the site took copyright violation very seriously.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said “If your business model is movie piracy, your story will not have a happy ending”. Bharara also stated that piracy contributes to billions of dollars that could be contributing to the U.S. economy.
In some ways this is reminiscent of some a former music sharing website…and that particular business model was eventually stripped down in Court. As a result the company had to revamp and redesign itself in order to fit legally with copyright law.
Sounds like there might be some major shakeups in the future in regards to movie piracy. Will these actions taken stop the illegal activity? Time will tell. The Internet is not the easiest domain to regulate and since there are various belief systems in regards to intellectual property across the globe, unfortunately chances are the market will reemerge again.
As long as there is a market, there will be someone there to provide the service or product. While movie pirates are definitely a part of the problem, one thing that is far less talked about is the fact people are actively searching for ways to break copyright law in order to avoid having to pay, whether they know it is illegal or not.
Society is currently going through some major transformations and one of them is the fact we’ve evolved into an instant demand society. While many admittedly do not want to pay for movies, even those who are willing to pay for movies, often do not want to wait until they are released for sale legally.
If the problem is going to be solved, it has to start with education of copyright law. Sadly, many people don’t even realize when they download copyrighted information, whether it be music, movies, books or any other kind of creative work, that they are stealing.
That is really one of the root problems of piracy.
This investigation is ongoing with several U.S. government agencies involved.
New York Daily News
Wall Street Journal