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Sun Microsystems employees have been caught with their hands in the file-trading cookie jar, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is not happy about it.

The RIAA sent a "cease and desist" order to Sun after discovering that some of the server makers' employees had been downloading copyrighted files at work. This is part of a broad attack by the RIAA against college students, the military and companies.

Sun responded to the RIAA's order by issuing its own cease and desist order to employees.

"Downloading copyrighted software is illegal and a violation of Sun's business conduct policies regarding inappropriate use of Sun's resources," a pair of Sun executives wrote in an e-mail, The Register has confirmed. "Sun employees are prohibited from engaging in this practice using Sun time or Sun resources."

"Employees engaged in this practice are putting Sun (not to mention themselves) in legal jeopardy and must cease and desist IMMEDIATELY," the e-mail continues. "In addition, employees who have such downloaded songs on their Sun systems must IMMEDIATELY purge these works. . . We will be conducting an internal audit shortly to ensure compliance, and that infringing materials have been removed from Sun's systems."

Sun does have intellectual property of its own that it likes to protect, but in many ways this must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

Sun's long-standing mantra has been "The Network is the Computer," and P2P systems provide a nice proof point of the power inherent in connected systems. Millions of files zipping across the Internet also means more business for Sun's server and storage groups.

In addition, Sun developed its JXTA project to help make P2P networks work better and to create, in the long run, more demand for powerful servers.

Intel's Chairman Andy Grove has also spoken out about his appreciation for P2P networks as a driver for the technology business. Again, more media files demand more processing power, which plays right into Intel's hands.

It's time for the technology powerhouses in the U.S. to stand up and fight the music labels. Technology is the future of this country, and we should not let a few laggards keep us in the 20th century just so they can preserve an ancient music distribution model. ®

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