Wednesday, December 5, 2007

MPAA Pulls Piracy Monitoring Software


The Motion Picture Association of America has removed from its Web site free software meant to help track campus pirates, after a software developer complained that the group’s use of the software might itself be a copyright violation.

Seth Oster, executive vice president and chief communication officer for the MPAA, said in an interview today officials do not believe they have done anything wrong, but have taken the software down while they review the complaint. He said the removal was a precaution and signals how seriously the group considers copyright issues.

“We have temporarily removed the download from our site,” he said. “It is our hope that we can make this available again in very short order.”

Until a few days ago, the MPAA was making the software, called University Toolkit, available for free download online. In October, the group sent a letter to college presidents at 25 institutions it identified as hotbeds of piracy, asking them to use the software.

University Toolkit includes customized versions of previously released open-source software. Matthew Garrett, an open-source-software developer, says he contacted the MPAA last month asking for proof that the group had met the terms of the open-source-software license, which requires those who make modifications to release their source code. In a blog post, he says he never got a reply, and so he sent a notice to the MPAA’s Internet Service Provider demanding the software be removed.

A previous report had raised privacy concerns about the University Toolkit software, which the MPAA now says it has addressed. —Jeffrey R. Young