Feeds

RIAA targets post-Napster MP3 sharers

Will have a much tougher time bringing them to heel

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

The Recording Industry Ass. of America has sued peer-to-peer MP3 file sharing services FastTrack, Grokster and MusicCity.

We can't say we're entirely surprised. Having neutered Napster, it was only a matter of time before the RIAA targeted other networks designed to allow at best music buyers to share songs and at worst lots of other people to obtain tracks without paying for them.

Indeed, an internal memo recently leaked to Web site Dotcom Scoop, noted the music industry organisation's intent to target the three networks with copyright infringement suits.

"We have solid claims against FastTrack, MusicCity, and Grokster of secondary liability for copyright infringement. The claims are not as strong as those against Napster, but they are also not so remote as to be wishful," says the memo, dated 25 September.

All three appear to be quasi-commercial services, with Grokster and MusicCity both using technology developed and implemented by FastTrack. FastTrack itself operates the Kazaa network.

Interestingly, the memo notes FastTrack's apparent willingness to reach an agreement to avoid legal confrontation. If accurate, that appraisal will have led the RIAA to believe FastTrack will settle out of court. And if it alters its technology to protect copyright, that will have a knock-on effect on the other two companies' services.

However, Dotcom Scoop's RIAA source suggests that the case is weak and that it will only succeed if FastTrack caves in.

At issue is the degree to which file sharing is facilitated by the companies' computers. Napster was relatively easy to prosecute because it acted as a conduit for file transfers - in other words, it was complicit in the copyright infringement. That's not the case with true peer-to-peer systems like Gnutella. The RIAA's action against FastTrack and co. will be all the stronger if it can show there is a clear client-server element to the system.

Dotcom Scoop's source suggests that it will only be able to do so with FastTrack's assistance, which implies that the current suit is more about brow-beating FastTrack than clearly proving contributory copyright infringement. The RIAA can't itself find out too much about FastTrack's code, because the software uses encryption and any attempt to crack that protection would put the RIAA in hazard of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forbids such action (though that didn't stop it from successfully giving the similarly protected Aimster a tough old time).

Only with FastTrack's help can the organisation get past the encryption legally. And since FastTrack - distinct from Kazaa - is a software company not a sharing service, the RIAA hopes that it can be persuaded to co-operate.

The RIAA is also pursuing all three companies for vicarious copyright infringement, which boils down to not doing enough to prevent copyright infringement on a supervised network. The RIAA reckons it has evidence that all three services do indeed supervise file sharing, but like the evidence for the existence of a server-like elements in the network, it's all rather circumstantial. Enough, perhaps, to make a case but not necessarily to prosecute it.

Just as circumstantial are the claims the companies concerned are making money out of their actions. Making money they may be, but not necessarily directly out of their alleged contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.

Still, the outcome of the case will really depend on the extent to which the defendants are willing to stand up to the RIAA and its massive music industry sponsored legal team. Whatever the weaknesses of the RIAA's case, it has the strength to keep up the fight for a very long time indeed. ®

Related Links

Dotcom Scoop: Internal Memos Outline RIAA's Strategy To Launch Offensive Against Peer-To-Peer Networks and Letter from RIAA President and CEO to industry leaders

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.