MPAA sues "guerilla video" nets, aka "indexing websites"

The Motion Picture Association of America filed lawsuits in LA federal court Tuesday against "guerilla video" indexer sites YouTVpc.com and Peekvid.com.

Both "internet video on demand" sites are advertising and/or PayPal supported, and consist of links to video streams, files, and torrents.

The MPAA press release reads, in part:

YouTVpc and Peekvid rely on advertisers to maintain their illegal websites and they profit handsomely from a seemingly endless stream of third-party advertising pitches. Peekvid - whose servers are located in San Antonio, Texas - averages over 53,000 unique users per day who view over 184,000 pages of content. YouTVpc – whose servers are located in Scottsdale, Arizona - averages more than 6,000 unique daily visitors who view over 21,000 pages of content per day.

In addition to advertising revenues, operators of YouTVpc solicit monetary donations through a “Donations” tab on the website that allows users to make financial contributions through PayPal.com.

Civil lawsuits were filed against YouTVpc and Peekvid in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for damages and injunctive relief for violations under the United States Copyright Act of 1976.

For their part, a statement on Peekvid reads:

Peekvid 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.

For more on "indexing websites," many of which link to videos on DailyMotion, sites out of China, or other rogue sources, check out this roundup: Link.

A few months ago over at the Wall Street Journal, Kevin Delaney did an extensive piece about these sites: Link, but the stupid WSJ paywall won't let you read it unless you're a subscriber. Here's a snip, after the jump...

From a small outbuilding alongside the train tracks in this Albuquerque suburb, two men in their twenties are peddling something that has become a big threat to big media companies.

The men, Sam Martinez and Billy Duran, use two low-end desktop computers to run a Web site that offers a remarkably broad menu of television shows and movies free of charge. They provide online access to 17 episodes of NBC's "Heroes" TV series, 49 installments of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," more than 70 feature films and hundreds of other videos. Within four days of Walt Disney's theatrical release of "Meet the Robinsons," the men had the movie available for viewing through their site, YouTVpc.com.

As media companies fight to keep control over distribution of their shows, they have focused their guns on big sites like the YouTube unit of Google Inc. But little sites like this one in New Mexico collectively represent an equally thorny challenge. They are like guerrilla squadrons that are constantly shifting tactics to defy big media and keep offering consumers free programs.

Unlike YouTube, which stores videos on its own servers in the U.S., the guerrilla sites offer menus of shows that are often stored on servers in places like France and China. The sites act as gateways to pirated material offered on other sites and say they don't break copyright laws because they don't have the material on their own computers. Content owners say the sites are abetting copyright infringement, which is illegal.

Whatever the legality, it's tough to clamp down on sites that just about anyone can set up with links to video stored on computers around the world. "If one host gets shut down, there are three others that are going to pop up," says Mr. Martinez, who covers the site's expenses by carrying some advertising.