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MPAA sues online DVD seller

Minnesota-based e-tailer eDiscountTech.com says it didn't know the DVDs it bought from a Malaysian retailer were pirated.

The Motion Picture Association of America has sued a Minnesota-based Web site for allegedly selling pirated DVDs on the Internet.

In a complaint filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the MPAA alleged that online retailer eDiscountTech.com willfully sold illegal copies of DVDs on its Web site and through eBay. According to the suit, the DVDs were purchased by eDiscountTech from a seller in Malaysia, which allegedly hawked pirated versions of films to the public.

Jonathan Zabrocki, who runs eDiscountTech, denied any wrong doing. According to Zabrocki, the Malaysian retailer repeatedly offered to sell eDiscountTech 2,000 DVDs at liquidation prices. EDiscountTech, which attributes more than 95 percent of its sales to computer components, repeatedly sought assurances that the retailer was selling legitimate DVDs, Zabrocki said.

Zabrocki added that eDiscountTech has purchased DVDs in the past from U.S. liquidators, but this was the first time he purchased any DVDs from abroad.

"We had no prior knowledge that these DVDs were not authentic," he said in an interview. "We've been 100-percent cooperative with the MPAA. We look forward to talking with them about this situation, and we look forward to the apprehension of this person who sold us these pirated DVDs."

The complaint is the first to target a U.S.-based retailer for importing pirated works and selling them online, according to the MPAA.

The suit underscores the movie industry's ongoing efforts to confront illegal sales and distribution of copyrighted works on the Internet. Hollywood has taken an aggressive stance against online technologies such as peer-to-peer file sharing, fearing its films and TV shows will be traded or sold illegally. The MPAA has also backed legislation designed to curb digital content from entering the Internet's domain.

"It's certainly an Internet issue because of the fact that he could sell these products to anyone worldwide online," said David Corwin, senior counsel at the MPAA. "It suggests the viral nature of the Internet."

The MPAA confronted Zabrocki last Thursday when it seized the DVDs at the company's office.

Corwin said that the organization will try to settle the case outside of court.