MPA Members Sue Chinese File Sharing Network Provider

All six members of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) have filed copyright infringement suits in China against Shenzhen Xunlei Networking Technology (Xunlei), a popular peer-to-peer file sharing network operator, the MPA said Friday.

The companies are seeking damages and legal fees in excess of 7 million renminbi (US$975,000) in the cases. The MPA members are also seeking a public admission to the alleged copyright infringement and a pledge from Xunlei to refrain from future infringements.

The civil complaints were filed in the Shanghai Pudong District Court.

Xunlei offers downloads of popular peer-to-peer file sharing software Thunder5 and WebThunder from its Web site. The names of the two downloads have been translated to English from Chinese. Xunlei means Thunder in Chinese.

Early last year, the New York Times reported that Xunlei attracted a US$5 million investment from U.S. search giant Google, in return for a 4 percent stake in Xunlei.

The MPA members allege Xunlei's software is responsible for the unauthorized trading of hundreds of MPA member movie titles, and listed 32 titles on the complaint, including 'Spiderman 3,' 'War of the Worlds' and 'Miami Vice.' Legal counsel for the MPA sent 78 notices of infringement to Xunlei over a five week period before starting the suit, the MPA said.

Xunlei could not immediately be reached for comment.

The plaintiffs in the case against the Chinese company include Twentieth Century Fox International, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Buena Vista International, Universal International Films and Warner Bros. Pictures International.

The MPA represents North America's largest film companies internationally, and has been active trying to stamp out online movie sharing in China. Since 2006, the organization has concluded 42 complaints involving 135 counts of infringement, and won 2 million renminbi in damages and awards, it said.

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