MPAA: Viewing pirated films online is a crime

As the war on Internet piracy rages on, a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) official recently said that anyone in the United States who views new film releases online technically could be committing theft.

“Nobody who isn’t a criminal would walk into Blockbuster or Wal-Mart or Best Buy, wherever they’re selling or renting DVDs, take it off the shelf, put it under their arm and not pay for it,” MPAA spokesperson Elizabeth Kaltman told the Chicago Sun-Times.

This analogy has failed both the MPAA and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the past, as it doesn’t cause guilt among very many PC users.  Not too many people believe pirating digital music tracks is quite the same as pillaging the local Best Buy.

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Furthermore, copyright lawyer Steve Englund noted people who post copyrighted content are technically committing a crime, but it’s a far stretch to say each person watching the content also is violating the law.

The MPAA spokesperson also pointed out at least 90 percent of unauthorized video viewing online is of movies recorded directly in movie theaters.  Although it has become easier to steal and transfer pre-release versions of movies, there is better enforcement and anti-piracy measures that make it easier to identify where the leak originated from.

Earlier in November, the MPAA urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to have a three-strikes piracy law similar to some European nations, which could lead to repeat copyright infringers being disconnected from the Internet.

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