Disney sues Beltsville man accused of illegal file-swapping

December 16, 2005

Seeking to stop the illegal distribution of its movies over the Internet, Disney Enterprises filed a copyright infringement lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore against a Beltsville man who is accused of illegally swapping films online.

The suit alleges that Wajahat Saleem downloaded a copy of The Incredibles and used an online media distribution system to make the movie available to others.

Efforts to reach Saleem for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.

The court filing is part of a broader campaign by the Motion Picture Association of America to fight film piracy and raise awareness about the consequences of illegal file-swapping. The association has filed hundreds of similar lawsuits across the country since November 2004, MPAA spokeswoman Michelle Greeno said.

"Movies are valuable products, and you can't just go out there and steal them," she said.

The civil suits seek financial damages - up to $30,000 for each film illegally copied or distributed over the Internet and as much as $150,000 per movie if the copyright infringement is found to be willful - and court action to stop file-swapping. Criminal penalties carry sentences of up to five years in prison and up to 10 years for repeat offenders.

"Each time [the] defendant unlawfully distributes a free copy of one of [the] plaintiff's copyrighted motion pictures to others over the Internet, each person who copies that motion picture can then distribute that unlawful copy to others without any significant degradation in sound and picture quality," says the lawsuit filed against Saleem.

"Thus, defendant's distribution of even one unlawful copy of a motion picture can result in the nearly instantaneous worldwide distribution of that single copy to a limitless number of people."

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