A Taiwanese web-site has incurred the wrath of Hollywood for offering web-casts of thousands of major film titles for just $1.
Current rental releases such as Shrek, Legally Blonde and American Pie 2 are available on the site - Movie88.com - which streams movies online using Real Player software. The site's database also includes thousands of classic titles and Chinese-language films such as Jackie Chan starrer The Accidental Spy. The dollar fee allows unlimited plays of one title over a three-day period.
The site claims to be operating within Taiwanese law, and urges users to comply with copyright rules in their own territories. However, as Napster and other cases have demonstrated, shifting blame for copyright violations onto users isn't much of a defence in US courts.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is already investigating the site and is expected to put pressure on its owners and the Taiwanese government to close it. "We are looking at the site and will take steps to deal with the site appropriately," an MPAA spokesperson said.
RealNetworks said that although Movie88.com uses it software it has no association with the web-site or any of its operations.
The US has already proved its ability to crack down on web-site piracy outside its own borders. In February 2000, US courts forced Canadian web-site, iCraveTV, to stop web-casting feeds from US and Canadian TV channels without permission.