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Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

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.

MPAA Differences

The 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 changed.

For more information on the litigation process, please review our pages on the MPAA and RIAA Legal Initiative.



* This page shall be updated from time to time. Anyone may link to this site. As stated above, this page and its contents have been provided for informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE or LEGAL REPRESENTATION. While anyone may quote portions of this page, Mudd Law Offices requests notification of such use.


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