Friday, November 23, 2007

Studios sue Internet café, website

Majors allege illegal downloading

HONG KONG — Five Hollywood studios are suing a Chinese online service and a Shanghai Internet cafe for providing illegal downloads of their movies.

Case against Beijing Jeboo Interactive Services and Technology and Shanghai East Cybercafe was filed in the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate Court on Sept. 28 and case is now pending.

Frank Rittman, regional legal counsel for the Motion Picture Association said that the MPA is coordinating the action on behalf of 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios.

Studios are seeking damages of RMB200,000 ($27,000) per title plus legal fees and court costs, for a total of $432,000 in compensation. Case cites 13 MPA member titles including include "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," "X-Men 2" and "Night at the Museum."

Rittman said that Jeboo earns its revenues from providing technical services for downloading and streaming content to the country's numerous Internet cafes. Cafes then charge their end users. According to some estimates, there are more than 28 million people in China who use Internet cafes primarily for watching movies.

Jeboo has not commented on the case. But its website says company is China's biggest film download provider with close to 30,000 movies and television series available and says that its content is obtained legally. Menu of movies changes daily.

Rampant software piracy in China is at the heart of a trade dispute between the U.S. and China that is now being probed by the World Trade Organization.

China says its laws are adequate and that it is now increasingly cracking down on piracy. In September, Hollywood studios won damages from a Beijing business selling copies of pics from the "Lord of the Rings" franchise and other popular films.