PLEASE NOTE: The MPAA has diminished its direct pursuit of P2P file-sharers through mass litigation. Consequently, the information on this webpage is dated. It has been retained (apart from a few changes to bring it somewhat more up to date) for historical purposes.
Charles Lee Mudd Jr. has been representing individuals
sued by the Motion Picture Association of America ("MPAA")
since 2004, soon after the MPAA began its legal initiative. The
MPAA followed the Recording Industry Association of America ("RIAA")
in filing suits against individuals alleged to have engaged in copyright
infringement by downloading copyrighted works and thereafter making
those copyrighted works available to others for copying. The legal
arguments apply to both the RIAA and MPAA strategies. However, some
differences existed in the legal initiatives and settlement strategies
used by the RIAA and MPAA.
adopted a strategy with respect to settlements similar to the
original strategy adopted by the RIAA. In essence, the MPAA will allow for negotiation in financial
terms based on mitigating circumstances and modification of certain
language in the settlement agreement. This differed from the RIAA's
approach of nearly no financial negotiation and virtually
no negotiation as to the terms of the settlement agreement.
The MPAA had documentation on the number of
distinct films found in an individual's shared directory. In addition,
the MPAA likely had evidence that some of these files remained
after being downloaded and examined.
The MPAA based its monetary demand to some extent
upon the number of films an individual downloaded. At the same
time, the MPAA also demanded increased amounts based upon the
films' popularity at the time.
As it happens , the copyright laws provide some logic
to both demands. First, the United States Copyright Law provides
for a statutory fine based upon each infringement, where the infringement
in this case would be each distinct film file (this does not equate
to the number of copies of a particular work, but rather the number
of works in the folder - for example, only one film copied ten times
would remain one infringement while ten films each copied once would
be ten infringements). This provided logical reasoning behind the
first factor. What about the popularity of the film? A copyright
holder may elect to pursue actual damages (if capable of being proven).
The MPAA might argue under an actual damages theory that its members
would incur more lost revenue the greater the popularity of the
film. While it would have to demonstrate actual damages to win under
such an argument (which could arguably be countered by the fact
that increased theater and rental sales would suggest less people
facially download the film), it nonetheless has some, albeit problematic,
basis for its rationale.
There are certain matters that one must demand in
the settlement agreement with the MPAA that will not otherwise be
For more information on the litigation process, please
review our pages on the MPAA and RIAA Legal Initiative.