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Swift action demanded to halt content sharing

US music and filmmakers seek to shut down file-swapping sites

Apparently tired of legal delays, groups representing the music and motion picture industries have filed a motion with a US federal court requesting a swift ruling against P2P (peer-to-peer) file-swapping services Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster, calling their networks "candy stores of infringement."

The motion was filed by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association) in a Los Angeles federal court following months of drawn out litigation against the P2P services.

The music and motion picture industries initially sued the services last October, claiming they knowingly allow users to pirate their copyright-protected works. Using the same stand against Napster the groups got a court to take the file-swapping site permanently offline.

Their case against the new generation of P2P networks has hit a snag, however. The file-swapping services claim that, unlike Napster, they have no central servers and cannot control what their users do.

But the groups filing the motion claim in a statement that the P2P services control the networks "in a way that could easily prevent copyright infringement from occurring". They cite an instance earlier this year when Kazaa turned off fellow P2P service Morpheus.

The music and motion picture groups also allege that the P2P services designed their businesses to exploit the value of their copyright works.

"This is cybernetic shoplifting. The defendants have used the internet to enrich themselves and deprive creators and copyright holders of their right to be compensated for their works, thereby perpetuating the mentality that stealing is an acceptable form of behaviour," said Mark Litvack, MPAA vice-president and director of legal affairs.

On the same day the industry groups requested a speedy ruling against the P2P networks, Morpheus petitioned the court for a summary judgment declaring its legality. Morpheus contends its software has substantial non-infringing uses and should be protected.

It remains to be seen how the duelling motions fare, as the court weighs up the case in following weeks.

The music and motion picture groups said that their brief had been sealed, in response to confidential evidence submitted by the defendants, so no further details were available.

None of the P2P services named in the case was immediately available for comment.

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