Movieland.com sued for spyware

Washington State Attorney General McKenna filed a suit against Movieland.com and 3 associates, all California based companies, for "installing software that takes control of a consumer’s computer by launching aggressive and persistent pop-ups that demand payment for a movie download service."

Hot off the wires -- I just got a press release stating Washington State Attorney General McKenna filed a suit against Movieland.com and 3 associates, all California based companies, for "installing software that takes control of a consumer's computer by launching aggressive and persistent pop-ups that demand payment for a movie download service."  From the press release:

“The defendants in our suit promote a movie download service through Web sites including movieland.com that offer consumers a free three-day trial,” McKenna said. “After the trial period, consumers are inundated with pop-ups that appear at least hourly and subject the consumer to a 40-second payment demand that cannot be closed. These messages are generated by software installed on their computers that cannot be easily removed.

“To stop these aggressive pop-ups, many frustrated consumers ultimately give in to the defendants’ unfair tactics and pay anywhere from $19.95 to nearly $100 for the service,” McKenna said. “Thousands of consumers nationwide have complained to my office, the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and others about the defendants’ unfair practices.

Washington’s lawsuit charges Digital Enterprises, of West Hills, doing business as Movieland.com; Alchemy Communications, of Los Angeles; AccessMedia Networks, of Los Angeles; and Innovative Networks, of Woodland Hills, with violating the state’s Computer Spyware and Consumer Protection acts.  Two company officials are also charged in the suit: Digital Enterprises’ Easton A. Herd, and Alchemy’s Andrew M. Garroni. Both men live in Los Angeles.

If found liable, each defendant could be fined $100,000 per violation of the Computer Spyware Act and $2,000 per violation under the Consumer Protection Act. They may also be required to pay restitution to affected consumers.

A copy of the full complaint can be downloaded here (PDF). A description of the Movieland software can be found here. Movieland.com's website is here (click at your own risk) -- see talkbacks.

Related links at ConsumerAffairs.org, MovieLand denies it pipes spyware onto users' computers; and at VCN.com, how to remove Movieland from your computer.

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