U.S. court rules against Morpheus

Posted by Mark Raby

In yet another legal victory for the RIAA against P2P networks, a national court case was closed yesterday as U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that Morpheus's parent company, StreamCast Networks, is guilty of massive copyright infringement.

Morpheus is a peer-to-peer client that allows Internet users to share digital content music and movies. Even though StreamCast Networks was not providing the copyrighted content, the court felt convinced that the firm's business model was such that it relied on and "gave millions of people an outlet to infringe on the copyrights of entertainment content producers."

The same logic was used when the pioneering P2P software Napster was put under the legal eye, as well as for Kazaa, which reached a settlement for $25 million.

Last year, a landmark Supreme Court ruling made it clear that technology companies who distribute P2P clients could be held legally liable if they encouraged copyright infringement. StreamCast maintains that it never promoted copyright infringement with Morpheus and said that they may consider appealing the court's decision, according to Reuters.

"Morpheus is an innovative, multiuse program with legal uses that are overwhelming. In the meantime, Morpheus will continue to discourage users from infringing upon copyrighted works," StreamCast said in a statement.

Mitch Bainwol, chairman and chief executive of the RIAA, obviously had a different opinion on the ruling. He said that the decision was an "especially gratifying marker" in the online music marketplace. "No single court ruling solves piracy or can make up for several challenging years for the music community, but there's no doubt that this particularly important decision means that the rules of the road for online music are better today than they were yesterday," said Bainwol.