A Hollywood group said Friday it is suing a popular Chinese Web site over film piracy, expanding a legal battle over use of the Internet by China's thriving industry in product copying.
The Motion Picture Association accused Xunlei Networking Technology Co. of allowing users of its file-sharing service to download hundreds of movies from other Web sites despite repeated warnings. The group said it is seeking 7 million yuan, or about $1 million.
Industry groups say explosive growth in Internet use in China is fueling unlicensed copying. Pirate Web sites offer free music, movies, software or games to attract users and make money from advertising or online commerce.
Popular Chinese Web sites also have been sued over accusations that they link to sites that carry pirated music.
MPA accused Xunlei of allowing users of its peer-to-peer, or P2P, service to download copies of movies including "Spider-Man 3," "War of the Worlds" and "Miami Vice." It accused Xunlei of continuing to allow violations after the group's lawyers sent 78 warnings.
"These actions demonstrate that copyright holders can and will vigorously defend their property by any legal means," Frank Rittman, the MPA's Asia-Pacific vice president, said in a statement.
"P2P piracy is a huge problem in China, which if left unattended will threaten the continued development of legitimate online services supported by copyright owners," Rittman said.
A woman who answered the phone at Xunlei's headquarters in the southern city of Shenzhen and refused to give her name said no one was available to comment.
The MPA also has filed a series of lawsuits against Chinese vendors of illegally copied DVDs. The group says it has been awarded $280,000 since 2006.
Entertainment and games are among the most valuable attractions for Web sites in China, which has 210 million people online, the second-largest population of Internet users after the United States.
In November, the MPA sued a Chinese Web site, Jeboo.com, that it accused of providing pirated copies of 13 recent Hollywood films to a Shanghai Internet cafe.
A music industry group, the International Federation of Phonographic Industries, won a suit in December against Yahoo Inc.'s China arm, which it sued over links to outside sites with pirated music. The group has filed a similar suit against Chinese search engine Baidu.com Inc.
China is a leading source of unlicensed copies of goods ranging from movies and music to sporting goods and medications.
Beijing has imposed tougher penalties and launched repeated crackdowns, but companies say violations, driven by a booming Chinese economy, are expanding faster than enforcement.
The Motion Picture Association is the international arm of the Los Angeles-based Motion Picture Association of America. Its members are Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Universal City Studios and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.