LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood studios said yesterday they will file lawsuits this month against hundreds of people who swap pirated copies of movies over the Internet.
The move is a reversal of the studios' earlier reluctance to follow the aggressive legal path taken by the music industry.
Internet piracy of movies is not nearly as rampant as in the music industry, largely because huge movie files can take hours to download, in contrast to less than a minute for most songs.
But Dan Glickman, the new head of the Motion Picture Association of America, yesterday said the lawsuits were necessary now, before high-speed Internet access makes downloading pirated copies of movies easier.
The MPAA claims the US movie industry loses more than $3 billion annually in potential global revenue because of bogus copies of videos and DVDs of its films.
Videotaped copies of films in theaters often are digitized or burned off DVDs and then distributed on file-sharing networks.
Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said several hundred individuals would be named in the first round of lawsuits. The lawsuits would seek civil penalties of as much as $30,000 per download and as much as $150,000 if the infringement is proved to be willful.