Revenge of the MPAA — First Test for the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act?

(Eric Goldman is travelling and lecturing until June 13, and will be able to post only occasionally during this time. In his absence, John Ottaviani will continue to guest-blog from time to time.)

The media has been reporting the availability of at least two copies of unauthorized Stars Wars III – Revenge of the Sith download files since at least as early as Wednesday. (I’m not going to say where, in order to keep Eric out of legal hot water). Estimates already have the number of downloads approaching 20,000. Illegal copies have also surfaced on the streets of New York and other major cities. Acording to some reports, the file quality is so good that there is speculation that the leak is from “inside” the movie industry.

Is anyone surprised? No. Assuming we are dealing with a pre-release version of the movie, this is exactly the scenario that the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was enacted to address. I agree with Eric that the new law probably is not necessary, but we will now get a chance to see whether or not Hollywood’s new tool will be effective to slow down this type of theft.