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Lawsuit says movie group hired hacker

A popular Web site that helps users search and find links where they can download certain files -- including pirated television shows and films -- is suing the Motion Picture Association of America, accusing the group of paying a hacker to break into the site's computers.

Torrentspy.com, part of Valence Media, said in its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Central California that the motion picture group hired an unnamed person for $15,000 to steal passwords, e-mails and detailed information about the company's finances and operations.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in the larger, ongoing battle between the movie studios and file-sharing sites, which make it possible for users to download digital files, including copyrighted music, movies and television shows, through the Internet. Last year, Hollywood studios lost some $2.3 billion from Internet piracy, the MPAA said.

Three months ago, the MPAA sued a series of Web sites, including Torrentspy, to stop them from helping users swap illegal files. The sites take advantage of torrent software, a tool that lets users share especially large files, and in many cases, pirated films and shows, such as "Lost" and the "The Da Vinci Code." Torrentspy is a search engine that points users to places where they can download those files.

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