The movie studios are playing Grinch to Internet pirates selling unauthorized DVDs as holiday gifts over online auction sites. The Motion Picture Association of America filed federal civil lawsuits against people in eight states Tuesday, accusing them of copyright infringement for offering hundreds of pirated DVDs over auction sites.
The lawsuits mark the first time the MPAA has focused on sales over such sites. They were filed against people in California, New Jersey, Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Kansas and Connecticut.
Many of the DVDs were illegally copied from legitimate DVDs, while others were bootleg copies of first-run films not yet released on video or DVD, the MPAA said.
The MPAA, which represents the seven major film studios, previously has pursued people selling pirated videos and DVDs directly over the Internet. The organization also has targeted people who offer pirated copies of films for downloading over the Internet.
Sales of pirated movies over auction sites doubled this year and account for one-fifth of all Internet piracy, the MPAA said.
The lawsuits were timed to raise public awareness when people are likely to be looking for bargain holiday gifts on auction sites.
The MPAA identified the alleged pirates by buying DVDs offered online and examining the contents.
Some of the DVDs were copies made with a handheld video recorder of films still in theaters, such as "8 Mile" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."