MPAA sues 3 from Oahu for movie downloads
The trade group says it is trying to send a "message to Internet thieves"
The Motion Picture Association of America sued three Oahu residents this week for allegedly downloading and swapping movies online.
The latest lawsuits for copyright infringement bring the total number of lawsuits filed against Hawaii residents to six since the association started filing lawsuits in November 2004.
"You can click, but you can't hide," said John Malcolm, the association's executive vice president and director of worldwide anti-piracy operations. "Our message to Internet thieves is simple: You are not anonymous, we will find you and you will be held responsible."
The lawsuits filed Tuesday in Honolulu's U.S. District Court are against Eugene Niblett of Kailua, Orlando J. Austin of Waipahu and Matthew Molina of Honolulu.
"I felt violated, victimized, robbed and ripped off. ... I don't understand what happened to me," said Niblett, who was accused of illegally downloading the Disney movies "Peter Pan" and "The Incredibles" on Feb. 28, 2005.
Niblett admitted to downloading the movies but said he paid $29.99 to subscribe to the file-sharing network, Kazaa Lite, where he obtained them from.
"I felt I was set up," Niblett said. "I'm not running a big business wheeling and dealing. ... I was just trying to let my daughter watch a movie."
Austin was accused of illegally downloading and distributing copies of Warner Bros.' and Columbia Pictures' movies "Are We There Yet?" "House of Wax," "13 Going on 30" and "White Chicks" in June 2005.
Molina was accused of illegally downloading and distributing copies of Columbia Pictures' movie "Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo" on Sept. 28, 2005.
Austin and Molina could not be reached for comment.
Statutory damages can range from $30,000 to $150,000 per movie illegally copied or distributed, according to the Copyright Act.
"I felt like the victim -- not the multibillion-dollar entertainment industry," said Niblett, who was told the plaintiff would not settle for less than $5,000.
Although hundreds of cases have been filed nationwide, MPAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaltman said only a handful have been settled.
"I thought it was completely random. ... I am sure millions of people illegally download," Niblett said. "Why aren't they going after the companies who allow this to happen or the person who gave me the file?"
In 2005 the association sued three Hawaii residents for illegally downloading and distributing copyrighted movies.
Two cases were dismissed, and judgment was passed on the other but the details of the verdict were not available at the time of publication.
MPAA attorney Phillip Li refused to comment on all six cases.