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File swapping under legal spotlight again

Recording and movie industries appeal peer-to-peer ruling

The recording and movie industries launched another salvo in their war against file swappers, appealing against the 25 April ruling in LA US District Court that the operators of file-sharing services were not liable for any copyright infringement that may be happening on their networks.

At the beginning of this week the Recording Industry Association of America (Riaa), the Motion Picture Association of America (Mpaa) and the National Music Publishers' Association file an appeal against the judge's decision that the operators of Grokster and Morpheus peer-to-peer (P2P) services couldn't know when users were trading copyrighted works.

They have asked for the ruling to be overturned and that StreamCast Networks, the operator of Morpheus and Grokster, be held responsible for copyright violations that occur on their networks.

The judge's decision "rewrote years of well-established copyright law", said Riaa president, Cary Sherman, in a statement. "It was wrong. These are businesses that were built for the exclusive reason of illegally exchanging copyrighted works, and they make money hand over fist from it."

The P2P operators contend that the ruling recognises the legitimate uses of P2P file sharing networks. "In our case the federal court recognised that you can't ban new technology just because it threatens an old distribution model," said StreamCast Networks boss, Michael Weiss.

New laws should allow for compulsory licensing similar to radio royalties, Weiss said, and he also suggested a small tax on recordable media.

Related links:
National Music Publishers' Association

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