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Hollywood’s Headache: Anti-Piracy Battle Blows Up

Hollywood sign
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images
Hollywood sign

In the wake of the Department of Justice taking down file sharing site Megaupload.com, file sharing sites FileSonic and Uploaded.to have pulled back on their services.

But Hollywood’s piracy headaches have just begun, and not just because SOPA and PIPA billshave been delayed indefinitely.

The Hollywood studios and their lobbying representative still face more logistical challenges than ever.

MPAA chief former senator Chris Dodd is bearing the brunt of frustration for the fact that the SOPA/PIPA bills were tabled. it. Not only is he blamed for the MPAA’s failure to market its support on anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA, but now there’s an online petition growing steam, calling for the White House to investigate his comments on Fox News.

Dodd is under fire for saying that lawmakers who don’t support anti-piracy laws could lose Hollywood’s financial support. A petition by “We The People Foundation,” a New York-based research group, has drawn nearly 21,000 signatures, saying Dodd makes an “open admission of bribery and a threat designed to provoke a specific policy goal. This is a brazen flouting of the “above the law” status people of Dodd’s position and wealth enjoy.

Here’s what Dodd said on Fox News last week. “Those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."

Meanwhile Dodd’s former colleague, Senator Chuck Grassley, had his Twitter account hacked, ostensibly because he supported the PIPA anti-piracy bill. Hacked Tweets include this one: “Chuck is a supporter of SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, meaning he wants no privacy for private accounts.”

Certainly pirates and hackers have not been dissuaded by the Department of Justice’s shutdown of file-sharing site Megaupload.com. In fact, hacking group ‘Anonymous’ says it’s setting up servers to launch an alternative to Megaupload, called “Anonyupload.” The group says the file-sharing service should be up and running on Wednesday, and it’s setting up servers in Russia, to remain outside the U.S. jurisdiction. Who knows whether this will happen, but it’s certainly good reason for Hollywood studios to be concerned.

And in yet another dizzying headline about the power of pirates, the Pirate Bay is expanding to now allow people to download physical objects. More specifically, users can download digital designs that can be used with 3-D printers to create physical objects. Announcing this news in a blog post Pirate Bay calls this category “Physibles,” saying “You will download your sneakers within 20 years.” Obviously the number of people who own a 3-D printer is limited, but this just speaks to the fact that all sorts of copyright owners should be afraid, very afraid.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.