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MPAA Uses Secret Investors, Homebuyers to Catch Pirates

A sting operation that targeted SurfTheChannel.com, a British streaming links site that has been in the MPAA's crosshairs for awhile, included a fake venture capitalist to lure the owner into a meeting revealing financial details as well as secretly trailing a car back to the house of the couple who operated the site.

The MPAA also came up with the idea to use an employee as a potential buyer of the couple's home to snap pictures of the computer equipment in the house. The careful preparation eventually resulted in a raid. The British government decided not to engage in a criminal prosecution, but the MPAA followed through and threatened a contractor for the site in the U.S. with charges alleging that he was illegally maintaining code for SurfTheChannel.com. The two parties struck a deal in which the MPAA decided it would be OK with receiving the payment the contractor got from SurfTheChannel.com and his willingness to testify against the owners of the website in the UK. Apparently, it was this testimony that launched the criminal prosecution of the owners of the website.

The trial is running now and is expected to last about a month. There is no clear jurisdiction whether plain linking to copyright-infringing sites is illegal. the owners of SurfTheChannel.com claimed in a conversation with the secret MPAA investigator that the site generated revenues of about $50,000 per month from about 400,000 visitors every day.

  • rad666
    greghomeMaybe if they spent less cash on this and more on making quality films.......Why would they? It's always the pirates fault when a film doesn't make money. It couldn't possibly be the quality...
    Reply
  • velocityg4
    greghomeMaybe if they spent less cash on this and more on making quality films.......They should also decrease the special effects budgets and boost the budget for good scripts. Perhaps spend a bit less on big names as well and more on a balanced cast of good actors.

    In the 30's and 40's they put their money into a good cast and script and churned out excellent films.
    Reply
  • jaquith
    While I like Pirates I also don't like Vigilantes. Instead have the FBI or the 'authorities' handle this problem.

    As far as films not making money -- then the Producers need to quite making crappy movies. Good movies make a plenty of money.
    Reply
  • jaquith
    Damn not edit - I meant to say "While I don't like Pirates I also don't like Vigilantes.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    Since when did we allow an association to engage in spying, wiretapping and deceit?
    Reply
  • Pinhedd
    eddieroolzSince when did we allow an association to engage in spying, wiretapping and deceit?
    As long as they're one of the parties and doesn't fall afoul of local wiretapping laws there's nothing illegal going on here. Companies have used private investigators in civil suits for centuries
    Reply
  • killerclick
    Why not just:
    - not watch movies that are not worth your money?
    - not download music that is not worth your money?
    - not play games that are not worth your money?

    If it's crap, why pirate it? If it's good, why not buy it?
    Reply
  • ptmmac
    How about a simple idea: Try being honest for a change and maybe you won't have to worry about people spying on you. Honesty is so simple why is it so hard for people to understand? Just because the internet makes stealing easy does not make stealing ok.

    If you really hate DRM and want to remove it from all your DVD's knock yourself out and do it. No one is going to come after you for this if you don't put those images, movies or soundtracks on a "sharing" service. Don't start a business that is based on stealing or trading in other people's property and you won't have any problem.
    Reply
  • wild9
    The MPAA also came up with the idea to use an employee as a potential buyer of the couple's home to snap pictures of the computer equipment in the house.

    Can someone more knowledgeable than myself please clarify the legality of such an act? Isn't it illegal if is on private property and the owner does not consent?
    Reply
  • maddy143ded
    Perhaps we the public should take a exception to the MPAA. find out which company's, people, actors etc are involved with the MPAA. then enforce a full scale public ban of those people. do not watch their movies. remove your subscription of those channels, stop buying products produced by them or endorsed by them, make sure that not single penny of your hard earned money reaches their dirty pockets. if enough people join this movement then MPAA will have to disband.
    it will take some time but it will be effective. also make sure that political supporters of MPAA are not elected by you..
    Reply