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MPAA, RIAA sue Scour over copyrights

Valenti & Co eat their own

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The US entertainment industry's Internet lawsuit reign of terror has lately encompassed Scour.net, a multimedia search-engine outfit ironically backed in part by Hollywood Native Son Michael Ovitz.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have filed a copyright infringement suit against Scour in Federal District Court in Manhattan, claiming that the company promotes the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials, including music and movie files.

The complaint alleges that Scour has made 1.8 million such files available for download. The industry is seeking an injunction against Scour, and is demanding US $150,000 for each work infringed.

The Scour Exchange file-search service uses bots to trawl the Net in search of music and video files. The Scour Exchange software client enables users to connect to each other's computers and exchange files, as Napster does. But while Napster trades only in music files, Scour users can exchange both music and video files.

Scour was "very surprised about this morning's MPAA and RIAA lawsuit, given our production conversations this week with Sony, Warner, and BMG regarding establishing business relationships with these companies," according to a prepared statement.

"Scour is Napster with movies," MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti observed. "All the movie companies in my association....are spending millions of dollars in order to put their movies online as soon as possible. The lawsuit is about stealing; this isn't a debate about the value of technology," he added.

#Thus the industry signals its hard-headed persistence in a quest to render technologies allowing the convenient indexing and sharing of data illegal in themselves, on the basis that they might be used to commit offences against copyrights. It would not surprise us to learn that, at the end of the day, the industry will have spent vastly more on legal fees demonstrating to the world that it is one bad mutha than it could ever hope to loose to Internet piracy.

But the assault on innovation, however misguided, continues by all means necessary; last week in New York City, the MPAA got its federal copyright lawsuit started against three Web sites because they made available copies of a utility program called DeCSS which unscrambles the encryption on DVDs. Among the defendants is the publisher of the popular 'zine 2600, Eric Corley aka Emmanuel Goldstein, who, after being forced to remove the program code of the DeCSS program, provided links to other sites which still had it available. ®

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