Note to entrepreneurs hoping to build a business using illicit content: don't grant extensive interviews (complete with pictures) to the Wall Street Journal. That's what a pair of aspiring hackers did back in April when they described how their service, YouTVPC, allowed users to watch streaming TV shows and movies without charge. Now, the MPAA is cracking down on such sites, filing a lawsuit against both YouTVPC and Peekvid this week.
The case was filed Tuesday in a California federal court. The gist of the suit is that businesses should not be allowed to prosper from illicit material, even if they do not host it.
Both YouTVPC and Peekvid provide access to some of the most popular video content in the world, but they do so by linking up other sites (many of them outside the US) where the content is stored. This allows them to claim that they are doing nothing illegal, even though providing access to this unlicensed material is the extent of their business.
The MPAA has had enough and, as the sites have grown in popularity, has decided to take action. Fortunately for the movie studios, both companies are based in the US and maintain servers in either Texas or Arizona, making them an easy legal target. According to the MPAA, Peekvid currently draws more than 53,000 unique visitors every single day, and YouTVPC pulls in another 6,000 a day.
The lawsuit may also get into the matter of how such sites are financed. It's no secret in the industry that ads provided by reputable companies like Google and Yahoo commonly earn revenue for sites like Peekvid, and in fact the two sites targeted in the lawsuit both rely on advertising to pay the bills. In a statement, the MPAA noted that the web sites "profit handsomely from a seemingly endless stream of third-party advertising pitches."
In a notice on its site, Peekvid says that it "does not contain any content on its site, but is merely an index of available links on the Internet. Peekvid is committed to an industry solution that will provide a mechanism to compensate artists that create the work you enjoy watching. Peekvid would like to be part of the long-term solution." Good luck with that.
Source:→ Ars TechnicaMPAA, YouTVPC, Wall Street Journal, TV, Videos, Online Video, Online TV