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Industry pursuing deceptive Web sites

Nov. 2, 2005

by KELLY MYERS, reporter

Members of the Motion Picture Association of America are warning students to be cautious of a number of Web sites that claim to contain legal music and movie downloads, when in reality, the sites don't have permission for the distribution of the material.

"Students should be aware that there are bad actors online who are falsely luring people into illegal activity," said Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, in a press release. "We are working to make sure these Web sites can't continue this type of false advertising and encouragement of illegal activity."

The MPAA has filed lawsuits against at least six Web sites, including downloadshield.com, full-movie-downloads.com, mp3eternity.com, moviesadvance.com, thedownloadplace.com and easydownloadcenter.com.

"There are legal ways to download movies online," Glickman said. "We won't tolerate this scam premised on the illegal swapping of valuable movie content."

Not only are the download sites illegal, but the owners are making money on them. Site owners charge fees ranging from $20 to $40 in exchange for downloads.

The Web sites also contain claims of access to an unlimited number of legally downloadable movies or music.

But the sites are actually connecting users to peer-to-peer networks that contain pirated copies of the music or movies they're trying to download.

Such downloads can be punished by fines that range from $30,000 to $150,000 per download.

And if criminal action is involved, violators could spend up to five years in jail.

According to the MPAA Web site, piracy is theft committed through various means, but most commonly the Internet.

"Stealing is stealing," Houston junior Kevin Nguyen said. "It doesn't matter if you think these companies can afford the profit loss. You're still taking something that isn't yours."

In order to help students avoid similar schemes, the MPAA Web site includes safety tips.

According to the site, students should watch for titles that are yet to be released on DVD, remember they get the quality they pay for, read the labels carefully and rely on legitimate Web services.

"When you download files from peer-to-peer services, it's the same thing as inviting strangers to access your private information," said Kristina Eclevia, a junior from Hillsboro, Ore. "That's just a risk I'm not willing to take."

Students are encouraged to contact the MPAA if they suspect pirate activity.

The MPAA suggested downloading from legal sites such as CinemaNow, MovieFlix and Music United.