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Oz music hyperlinker guilty of copyright infringement

Linking amounted to piracy, says judge

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An Australian man has been found guilty of copyright infringement for posting links from his website to other websites offering illegal music downloads.

Stephen Cooper, who ran a site called mp3s4free, was ordered to pay costs, as were fellow defendants Chris Takoushis, of ISP Comcen, and Liam Bal, a director of E-Talk Communications, Comcen's parent company, ZDNet reports.

Federal Court Justice Brian Tamberlin said he was "satisfied there has been infringement of copyright".

Cooper's legal representative said the verdict was "extremely disappointing".

But a music industry spokesman said it was "a very significant blow in the war against piracy".

A group of major record labels, including Sony, Warner, EMI and Universal, began proceedings against Cooper and co. in October 2003 through Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), an organisation affiliated with ARIA, the Australian equivalent of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA). Takoushis and Bal were accused of aiding and abetting Cooper to increase advertising revenues.

Cooper's legal representative had argued that the Queenslander had not committed copyright infringement since he had not hosted the illegal copies himself. However, in Australia's first judgment against hyperlinking, the judge is believed to have ruled that by pinpointing the location of the tracks, Cooper was aiding their illegal distribution. ®

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