The U.S. District Court lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, names downloadshield.com, full-movie-downloads.com, mp3eternity.com, moviesadvance.com, thedownloadplace.com and easydownloadcenter.com. The MPAA is seeking a court order to halt operation of the sites. Representatives of the sites could not be reached for comment. The MPAA action comes as the movie industry has fallen behind the 2004 pace in box office revenue and in DVD sales and rentals, which had been growing at a double-digit pace for seven straight years. “This is a forthright action on behalf of the studios,” said Bo Andersen, president of the Video Software Dealers Association, an industry trade organization. “Piracy is such a severe problem nationally and internationally that harms both theater owners and retailers of DVDs. This action looks like it hits right at the heart of it.” This marks the third time the MPAA has filed suit against sites accused of being scams. The first case, against Click Enterprises, Inc., resulted in the closure of eight scam sites, and $468,000 in damages was awarded to the studios. In the second case, three companies were ordered to shut down their sites and to pay damages ranging from $48,000 to $100,000. The Motion Picture Association of America is suing six Web sites that it says are tricking consumers into buying pirated movies, including “The Incredibles” and “The Polar Express,” off the Internet. The MPAA, on behalf of the major movie studios, said Thursday that the scam sites give the impression that their product is legal, but that they are actually connecting users to illegal peer-to-peer sites. This results in people unknowingly committing copyright infringement by downloading pirated films, some of which are still playing in theaters. “There are plenty of ways to download movies legally online, which is good for consumers and good for the movie industry,” MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said in a printed statement. “We won’t tolerate this scam premised on the illegal swapping of valuable movie content.” The sites are helped to look more legitimate through the unauthorized use of studio images and marketing materials. They charge a subscription fee that can range from a three-month trial for $20 to a $40 lifetime membership that offers an unlimited number of downloads. “This action is part of an aggressive campaign against pirate movie Web sites and consumer deception,” said Glickman. It is estimated by the MPAA that the movie industry lost approximately $3.5 billion to movie piracy last year in street sales alone, a figure that is expected to jump to $5.4 billion this year. The estimates do not figure in losses attributed to the illegal downloading of movies. Greg Hernandez, (818) 713-3758 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!