Movie and music industry associations on Wednesday, Oct. 3, filed a new round of copyright infringement lawsuits against three peer-to-peer file sharing companies, including MusicCity Networks, which operates the popular Morpheus service.
"We cannot sit idly by while these services continue to operate illegally, especially at a time when new legitimate services are being launched," Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a prepared statement.
The lawsuit, filed jointly by the RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, names as defendants Grokster, MusicCity and FastTrack, which runs the KaZaA file swapping service. Each of the services operates using P2P software developed by FastTrack, a Dutch software company.
Representatives of Grokster, MusicCity and FastTrack - which also does business as "Consumer Empowerment BV" - did not respond to requests for comment.
Last month, digital entertainment research firm Webnoize released a report estimating that the top four file sharing systems - FastTrack, Audiogalaxy, iMesh and Gnutella - were used to download about 3.1 billion files during August. In contrast, almost 2.8 billion files were downloaded using Napster in February, which was the highest volume Napster ever attained.
The FastTrack network - accessible via FastTracks KaZaA, Grokster and MusicCitys Morpheus applications - was the most popular of any of the file swapping P2P systems. Webnoize estimated that in September more than 1.5 billion digital media files were downloaded via FastTrack, which represented a 56 percent increase in usage over the previous month.
Meanwhile, the RIAAs lawsuit against Napster is still pending; Napster is attempting to become a legally viable business, and is currently in the midst of negotiating rights with the major record labels.
After a U.S. District Court judge effectively shut down Napster in July, Grokster, KaZaA and MusicCity began promoting themselves as alternatives for downloading and sharing not just music, but also full-length movies.
The lawsuit filed today alleges that the defendants are aware of the illegal file swapping occurring on their networks, and asserts that the companies are capable of stopping it.
Virtually every major movie studio and music company is listed as a plaintiff in the case, including Columbia Pictures Industries, Elektra Entertainment Group, Paramount Pictures, Sony Music Entertainment, Time Warner Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal City Studios, Universal Music Group and Warner Bros. Records.