In a victory for the entertainment industry, a federal judge has ruled that the Morpheus file-sharing software encourages
millions of users to share music, movies and other works without
U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled on Wednesday that StreamCast
Networks Inc., the distributor of Morpheus, had contributed to massive
copyright infringement because it had constructed a business model that
relied on massive copyright infringement and did not attempt to block the
trading of copyrighted materials.
The case, pitting Hollywood movie studios, record companies and music
publishers against StreamCast and similar firms, dated back to 2001. Last
year, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision, ruling that some
technology firms could be held liable for distributing software used to
StreamCast, based in Woodland Hills, California, said it was considering
an appeal and maintained that it did not encourage users to infringe on
copyrighted works and never intended to do so.
"The court's ruling is disappointing. StreamCast will consider its
options, including appealing the decision," the company said in a
"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," the company said.
StreamCast was the only file-sharing company that continued fighting after
the Supreme Court ruling.
"This is an especially gratifying marker in the continuing transformation
of the online music marketplace," said Mitch Bainwol, chairman and chief
executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade
group for major record companies like Warner Music Group and Vivendi's
Universal Music Group.
"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," he said.