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Local Studios Sue Megaupload

The Motion Picture Association of America has filed a federal lawsuit against file-hosting website Megaupload, alleging copyright infringement for making movies and television shows available for download. The MPAA, headquartered in Washington, D.C. and with offices in Sherman Oaks, represents the major Hollywood studios, including Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Entertainment, both in Burbank, and Universal City Studios, in Universal City. Among the films named in the 24-page complaint as available through Megaupload are “Back to the Future,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and “Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 1.” The MPAA seeks damages of $150,000 per infringement. Megaupload, based in Hong Kong, was shut down in early 2012 after its founder, known as Kim Dotcom, and others were charged in a U.S. federal indictment with conspiracy to commit and profit from copyright infringement. Dotcom was later taken into custody in New Zealand but later made bail and is fighting extradition. Dotcom, Megaupload Ltd.; Vester Limited, the majority shareholder of Megaupload Ltd., and other company officers were named as defendants in the MPAA’s lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Steven Fabrizio, senior executive vice president and global general counsel for the MPAA, said the file-hosting site illegally made feature film and television shows available for downloads to a global audience in at least 20 languages. The business model, he said, encouraged copyright infringement by basing the pay for uploaders of content on how many times their movies and shows were downloaded. “There’s nothing new or innovative about that,” Fabrizio said in a prepared statement. “That’s just a profiteer using existing technology to try to get rich off of someone else’s hard work.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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