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Click here for first-run movies, MPAA lawsuits

Copyright suits are filed against and Free Online Movie DataBase for linking to pirated versions of films such as I am Legend and Sex and the City.

A week after the debut of The Dark Knight, Hollywood's big summer hit, the movie studios are taking aim at two small-potatoes Web sites that point people to pirated versions of first-run films such as the Batman thriller.

The Motion Picture Association of America on Tuesday said it has filed lawsuits against and Free Online Movie DataBase, or FOMDB, for violating studios' copyrights by providing links to pirated versions of their movies.

The suits, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleged that the sites are virtual clearinghouses for locating infringing copies of copyrighted films--and that they're profiting from the sale of advertising against those pirated movies as a result.

"There are many people operating illegal Web sites like these who are profiting from the theft of protected content," John Malcolm, director of worldwide antipiracy operations for the MPAA, said in a statement. "We have every intention of shutting down these, and sites like them, for good."

Requests for comment from MovieRumor and FOMDB were not immediately returned. According to measurement site Quantcast, MovieRumor attracted about 120,000 U.S. visitors in June, and FOMDB drew about 130,000 worldwide visitors in July.

A quick look at MovieRumor showed that viewers could watch The Dark Knight in five parts from a link on the front page. Downloading the film was slow, however, and a spyware warning popped up while it loaded.

The legal actions are part of an ongoing campaign by the Hollywood studios and representative MPAA to target large and small sites that allegedly foster film copyright violations. Since June 2007, the MPAA has filed seven lawsuits against similar sites, and in May, a Los Angeles judge awarded the lobbying group two multimillion-dollar judgments, respectively against and

The new civil lawsuits ask for damages and injunctive relief for violations under the United States Copyright Act of 1976.