The MPAA announced last month that it would follow the example of the RIAA and sue individual movie file-swappers. Here’s an article about their announcement, a few days before the first round of lawsuits was filed. Today the MPAA further announced its intent to file lawsuits against web sites listing links to movies available using BitTorrent or through the eDonkey network. Here’s an article about today’s announcement.

John Dvorak has written an insightful analysis of why this is a bad move by the movie industry. It’s not because swapping movies ought to be allowed; rather, it’s because the recording industry strategy has so obviously failed. The recording industry called attention to file swapping when it began its vigorous campaign against “pirates” and made the problem far worse than it otherwise would have been. RIAA tactics have turned the recording industry into a bitterly hated enemy of its customers.

Swapping movies is still in its infancy. It’s technically more challenging than swapping music, but nothing that will stop increasingly sophisticated consumers for long. Now the MPAA is calling attention to it, just like the RIAA called attention to Napster and contributed to its explosive growth. As Dvorak says, “When the public first read about the MPAA suits, people didn’t say to themselves, ‘It’s about time something was done to eliminate piracy!’ They mostly said, ‘Hmm, I didn’t know you could download movies. Wow, cool.'”

The movie industry has earned some good will by pricing DVDs fairly, but it can squander that good will in a hurry – and it appears it is rushing to do just that.

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