In a big day of tub-thumping against IP violation, leaders on Capitol Hill pledged support for legislation to combat online piracy while the MPAA said the studios were suing the unlicensed film streaming service Zediva.

At a press conference today [4] a group of Congressmen including Senate judiciary committee chairman Patrick Leahy, House judiciary committee chairman Lamar Smith and subcommittee chairman on intellectual property, competition and the internet Bob Goodlatte said they were committed to legislative measures designed to stamp out piracy.

Congress has held several hearings to explore ways of fighting online copyright infringement in recent weeks. The Senate convened a hearing on Feb 16 and the House held one on Mar 14 and will stage a second hearing on the subject on Wednesday.

In a statement the MPAA’s evp of government affairs Michael O’Leary said: “We want to thank Chairman Leahy [et al] for recognising the true cost of online content theft and for showing public, bipartisan support for seeking legislative tools to address the serious and escalating threat of websites that profit from trafficking stolen content.” 

The statement continued: “The motion picture and television industry mirrors the US more closely than what appears on-screen; our workforce is 2.4m strong and extends across all 50 states. More than 95,000 small businesses – 93 percent of whom employ fewer than 10 people – are involved in the production and distribution of movies and television. We truly are a cross-section of the US workforce.

Meanwhile the MPAA said the leading Hollywood studios are seeking an injunction and damages against Zediva. The MPAA said the site claimed to be a like a bricks and mortar DVD rental store that did not need to pay licensing fees to copyright holders, when in fact it was a VoD service that transmitted films over the web using streaming technologies in violation of studio copyright.

The studios’ complaint filed in federal district court in Los Angeles alleged that Zediva parent company WTV Systems and Zediva founder and CEO Venkatesh Srinivasan violated the plaintiffs’ exclusive right to “publicly perform” their films.