Record labels send more letters to P2P services

Recording Industry Association of America sends cease-and-desists to seven P2P services it says induce copyright infringement.

The Recording Industry Association of America has sent letters to seven peer-to-peer companies, asking them to halt what the RIAA alleges is their practice of encouraging users to illegally distribute copyrighted material.

The RIAA's actions follow a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June against P2P services provider Grokster and marks one of the first actions the recording industry trade group has taken against P2P services beyond Grokster. In a unanimous decision, the court said companies that build businesses with the active intent of encouraging copyright infringement should be held liable for their customers' illegal actions.

"Companies situated similarly to Grokster have been given ample opportunity to do the right thing," a RIAA spokesperson said. "Those businesses that continue to knowingly operate on the wrong side of that line do so at their own risk."

The letters were mailed to seven file-sharing companies, according to a RIAA spokesperson, who declined to identify the companies.

Companies such as eDonkey, Lime Wire and Kazaa were viewed as potential targets of litigation after the Supreme Court ruling because of their unrestricted file-swapping services. Under the court's decision, these companies could face the additional burden of demonstrating that they were not encouraging users to circumvent copyright laws.

In a copy of the letter obtained by CNET, the RIAA states: "We demand that you immediately cease-and-desist from enabling and inducing the infringement of RIAA member sound recordings. If you wish to discuss pre-litigation resolution of these claims against you, please contact us immediately."

The letter, dated Tuesday, Sept. 13, goes on to say that the U.S. Supreme Court decision involving Grokster applies equally to the company and certain individuals at the company.

Other companies in the peer-to-peer file-swapping market include i2Hub, BitTorrent, WinMX and Free Peers, maker of file-swapping software BearShare.

BearShare, WinMX and Lime Wire were identified in a Wall Street Journal story as recipients of the letters.

Lime Wire declined to comment, and Free Peers did not return phone calls. WinMX representatives could not be reached for comment.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the RIAA has been diligently filing lawsuits against alleged copyright violators. Last June, RIAA filed lawsuits against 784 individuals and just last month issued another round against 754 individuals.

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