The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) istaking legal action to shut down file-trading networks it says distributemillions of unauthorised copies of Hollywood films and TV programmes.

The MPAA said it was filing civil suits and pressing forcriminal actions against networks with the names BitTorrent, eDonkey andDirectConnect.

The association said the three networks are examples ofnewer kinds of 'peer-to-peer' file-trading networks that haveproliferated online in recent years and rely on servers to index andefficiently deliver files of all kinds.

In addition to civil suits filed in US and Britishcourts, the MPAA said it was working with local law-enforcement agencies inseveral countries 'to pursue criminal actions against the people behindillegal file-trading servers based in those countries.'

'Law enforcement officials in France, TheNetherlands and Finland have already taken actions based on the informationbrought to their attention,' MPAA said.

The MPAA and local copyright holders are also sending'cease and desist' letters to Internet service providers worldwideseeking to shut down the eDonkey servers and DirectConnect hubs.

'We cannot just sit back and let Internet piratesbrazenly steal our movies and other intellectual property,' said MPAA'sPresident and CEO Dan Glickman. 'Today's actions not only will protectcreativity but also will bolster the nascent legitimate online market formotion picture distribution. The film industry believes digital delivery ofentertainment holds great promise, if we can protect it from thieves longenough to give it a chance to grow."