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MPAA To Prosecute File Sharing

By Jessica C. Chiu, Contributing Writer

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) plans to begin taking legal action against people who pirate movies online, its president announced yesterday.

Although the music industry has filed lawsuits against hundreds of individuals accused of sharing music illegally, yesterday’s announcement marks a shift in policy for the MPAA, which had not yet filed suits against individuals.

“Soon movies can be downloaded at a speed equal to that in the music industry,” said Dan Glickman, the MPAA’s president and CEO, in a conference call yesterday. “That kind of behavior will produce an environment where we will have no incentive to produce movies in the future.”

According to Glickman, the former director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics, the movie industry has already suffered dramatically from piracy and so must take “preemptive measures.” Lawsuits will be filed later this month against those who trade illegal copies of movies online.

But Harvard students who are caught in the act of movie file sharing are unlikely to have their names reported or to be the target of litigation.

“We don’t believe any names have been given out,” said Franklin M. Steen, the director of computer services in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “If someone were to ask us names, we would have to go through the General Counsel. If there is any change, it would be a change in policy.”

Steen said that students are given a warning before Harvard takes any action against those found to have traded illegal material.

“When we get a complaint from MPAA or the Music Publisher’s Association, we send off a note to the student. We can help them remove material, and they get a warning,” said Steen. “After the second offense, it’s college policy to disconnect that student’s access to the network.”

Glickman said yesterday that in addition to filing suits, the MPAA also plans to use education as a means to combat illegal downloading.

“We need reach out to college educators and administrators,” said Glickman, “We need to do a better job talking to college students as well as elementary and secondary school students.”

Students had differing opinions on the MPAA’s plans to sue file-sharers.

“I don’t think it’s justified,” said Neil K. Sawhney ’08, “You can get completely good music, burn it and never buy the CD, but I don’t know anyone who has stopped going to the movies just because of downloading.”

But Devon G. Castillo ’07 said that the movie industry ought to be able to take the same actions as the music industry.

“If legal actions for pirated music are sanctioned, then it makes just as much sense for movies,” he said. “It’s all copyrighted. It’s the intellectual property of somebody else.”

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