MPAA Attacks: Lawsuits Come Down on FOMDB and MovieRumor

FOMDB.com, the Free Online Movie DataBase, is officially off the internet.

FOMDB.com used to feature real-time streaming of almost anything you’d want to see that’s actively showing in movie theaters, dvd, and on televison. This free movie and tv watching website at one point boasted this statement on their now defunct homepage:

“All of our movies our FREE to watch!  No downloading, no registering, just click play and enjoy the movie!  Each category above includes an extensive list of free movies online during that year that you can click and play. DON’T FORGET to refresh the page on movies that were once broken.  We are constantly updating movies and thanks to most of you find the broken ones and replace them quickly! If you think we are doing a great job, help us get more motivated!  Could you spare some change? Donate!

Now it’s a blank page giving a Page Load Error.

Let’s compare the FOMDB situation to another free movie watching website, MovieRumor.com. This website is still online and going strong. A quick look on the MovieRumor homepage of this for-profit, one-stop shop boasts that the said website showcases videos of unreleased films. Now showing for free are titles such as Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Eagle Eye, Lakeview Terrace, Righteous Kill, My Best Friend’s Girl, Igor, Bangkok Dangerous, Babylon A.D., and Death Race, all being 2008 releases.

Although one website is still online (MovieRumor.com) and one is offline (FOMDB.com), the owners of both of these abovementioned websites are defendants on a recent lawsuit filed by the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) on behalf of several major motion picture companies.

Details of the MPAA v. MovieRumor.com and FOMDB.com Lawsuit

Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against FOMDB.com, while Universal City Studios Productions LLP, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., and New Line Productions, Inc. did the same against MovieRumor.com – both being for-profit websites that illegally post, organize, search for, identify, collect and index web links of audiovisual materials with copyrights duly owned by the said companies.

The lawsuits were filed in violation of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 on July 28, 2008 at the United States District Court, Central District of California in Los Angeles.

According to the sworn statements filed by the studios, the websites profit from organizing and indexing film and TV titles that link to third-party websites wherein copyrighted contents are being shown without permission by the respective owners. The websites do not directly sell or profit from the content itself but from advertisers placed adjacent to the said video links as well as user donations. For example, the website MovieRumor.com uses the ad networks Clickbank and AdBrite to monetize the sites. MovieRumor.com recieves approximately 146,800 United States visitors a month.

The plaintiffs state that they had given official notice to the defendants regarding their alleged violation and requested the owners of the websites to cease their operation but the defendants allegedly failed to respond to the cease-and-desist orders. The studios, all members of the MPAA, decided to pursue the said lawsuit seeking actual and statutory damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, miscellaneous legal fees, as well as the total removal of the websites from the internet.

FOMDB.com and MovieRumor.com both work as search engines for thousands of movie titles made available illegally online. Users of the websites can simply browse or search for theater and video releases, read reviews of the film and in just one click of the link, watch them via embedded videos provided by third-party websites. They manage to maintain the websites through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising as well as user donations.

MPAA has already filed seven different lawsuits against websites that allegedly commit copyright infringement. The association recently won multi-million dollar suits against Showstash.com and Cinematube.com.

“There are many people operating illegal websites like these who are profiting from the theft of protected content. We have filed several other similar lawsuits and will continue to do so in order to hold operators accountable for their illegal activities,” said John Malcolm, Executive Vice President and Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy Operations of the MPAA. “We have every intention of shutting down these, and sites like them, for good,” he added.

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