Dec 17, 2005

Lawsuits against illegal file sharing

Relentlessly waging its battle against music piracy on the Net, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed hundreds of lawsuits against users who have been allegedly downloading pirated music from the Internet. The move comes as RIAA steps up its efforts to curb music piracy which has been consistently draining the industry of billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The defendants, the RIAA claims, had been using popular peer to peer file sharing networks such as Kaaza and Gnutella to download music from the Internet. These networks work in a very simple way - Anybody who has bought a music CD can "rip" it and convert the songs into MP3 format and put them in a folder which can be shared using programs like Bearshare or Limewire. Other users in the network can easily search for the song and download it from this user, who in turn can access the files shared by other users. Anybody can share a single song which becomes accessible to everyone else, and the potential size of the library will be enormous. However, copyright laws in many countries forbid such practices explicitly and some even consider it a criminal offence.

The defendants in the latest batch of suits include
students at the University of Southern California and Drexel University, the Boston Herald reports. University students are believed to be active users of the file sharing networks targeted by RIAA.

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