There are a few very large and powerful corporate entities that view file-sharing as a threat to their business, and put a great deal of effort into lobbying for strong copyrights and fighting against people they view as pirates.
Motion Picture Association of America
The worldwide motion picture industry ... lost $18.2 billion in 2005 as a result of piracy.
Founded in 1922, the MPAA is an industry group that represents film studios and engages in what it refers to as "copyright advocacy" to pursue its member's interests. Consisting of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (The Walt Disney Company), Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures (Viacom—which bought DreamWorks in February 2006), 20th Century Fox (News Corporation), Universal Studios (NBC Universal), and Warner Bros. (Time Warner). [Source], the MPAA employs many tactics to prevent piracy, including PSAs and websites. More controversially, the MPAA has also attempted to bait downloaders with MiiVi.com, and was instrumental in causing the May 31, 2006 raid of The Pirate Bay's offices. Very recently, a hacker came forward saying he had been hired by the MPAA to promote anti-piracy and collect information identifying torrent users. The MPAA is also researching digital fingerprinting for videos.
The MPAA has attempted other tactics as well, just as trying to convince ISPs to monitor network traffic and report misuse to the MPAA. It seems ironic that this tactic didn't actually work, especially considering Time Warner and possibly some of the other studios actually have ISPs of their own. Instead, the MPAA attempts to scare potential pirates away by threatening: "People often download movies on the Internet because they believe they are anonymous and will not be held responsible for their actions. They are wrong. The illegal downloading and swapping of movie files is a serious crime. Pirates and their affiliates can and will be tracked for engaging in Internet piracy." - MPAA.org. Take a look at the MPAA's "call to arms": Global Avalanche of Piracy.
It is worth pointing out that the MPAA has itself violated copyrights. After screening This Film Is Not Yet Rated, the MPAA made unauthorized copies and distributed them to employees.
Recording Industry Association of America
The RIAA was established in 1952 in an effort to establish an industry standard for the equalization of vinyl records. Today the trade group, comprised of EMI, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group, has a much different purpose as indicated by their stated goals:
- to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the 1st Amendment rights of artists.
- to perform research about the music industry.
- to monitor and review relevant laws, regulations and policies.
“ It’s commonly known as piracy, but it’s a too benign term that doesn’t even begin to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on [...] artists, songwriters, musicians, record label employees and others [...]”
Most recently the RIAA has targeted colleges and universities in an effort to curtail file-sharing. In the past three months the RIAA has distributed more than 1300 pre-litigation notices, to college campuses. The ethically and legally questionable nature of pre-litigation notices, in addition to the discrimination towards college student has been a cause of much controversy.
American Association of Publishers
The AAP represents the interests of book publishers. As books and written materials are not as broadly digitized and copied as movies and music, the AAP is not as prominent as the RIAA and MPAA when it comes to copyright and file-sharing issues. Perhaps most prominently, the AAP is suing Google over the Google Print Library project, which involves digitizing entire books, claiming that Google's actions qualify as copyright infringement. The suit started in 2005 and is ongoing.
The AAP threatened to sue Cornell in 2006 for the library's e-Reserve system and for postings of copyrighted materials to course websites. The university avoided a lawsuit by implementing new policies regarding these practices.