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Kazaa colleague sues RIAA

Anti-piracy teams use our tech without permission, claims Altnet

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P2P company Altnet has instigated legal action against the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), claiming the music trade body and other anti-piracy operatives have infringed its intellectual property.

Altnet is a joint venture of Brilliant Digital Entertainment and Joltid, the P2P software company founded by Kazaa's creators after they sold their original P2P offering to Sharman Networks. Sharman is currently being sued by the Australian equivalent of the RIAA.

In a suit filed with the Los Angeles District Court, Altnet maintains that the RIAA, Loudeye subsidiary Overpeer and a fellow anti-piracy operation, MediaDefender, have all violated a patent it holds covering the identification of files on a P2P network using digital fingerprint technology.

Altnet says it acquired the patent in 2003, and began approaching the named companies in order to seek licensing agreements. All three have used code that attempts to identify songs traded on P2P networks in order to monitor levels of piracy on such systems and to act against music sharers, the company alleges. In each case, it argues, they have used software that uses - or at least contains - technology it owns and have done so without its permission.

Overpeer, for one, has gone on record to deny Altnet's allegations, which it said were "without merit". Its anti-piracy system essentially spoofs millions of shared files. P2P users who try to grab these files end up without the files they wanted and, the company hopes, get sufficiently fed up with the fact that it puts them off using P2P for illegal purposes in the future.

The secretive MediaDefender, meanwhile, is said to seed P2P will dummy files masquerading as illegal content downloads. Again, the motivation is to discourage music downloaders. ®

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