By Richard Menta 9/5/02
In a week that saw the courts lead Napster into liquidation, the U.S. District Court in Chicago has ruled that the file swap program Madster must halt song swaping.
''At issue is a service whose very raison d'etre appears to be the facilitation of and contribution to copyright infringement on a massive scale,'' said Chief Judge Marvin Aspen. "Defendants manage to do everything but actually steal the music off the store shelf and hand it to Aimster's users".
Aimster is Madster's original name before the compnay was forced by another court ruling to relinquish it because the name infringed on AOL's Aim trademark.
Aspen did leave room for Madster to come up with a way to filter all copyright material and continue servicing non-infringing uses. If the can come up with suitable proposal he is willing to amend the injunction.
But court costs have drained Madster to a point where a technical solution may no longer be financially feasible and that is assuming there is a solution. Madster founder Johnny Deep doesn't think there is one. ''We couldn't possibly filter, at least that I know of,'' said Deep.
The company, now in bankruptsy, doesn't have the resources to continue with a lengthy appeal process. If shut down, Madster will most likely disappear as Napster is about to.
"This unequivocal ruling today underscores that companies and individuals will not be permitted to build a business on music they do not own and will be held responsible for their actions," said RIAA Chief Executive Officer Hilary Rosen on the RIAA's website. "This decision helps to support the continued development of the legitimate online music market for fans, which is, of course, our goal in all of our online enforcement activities."
Even though this is a second win for the RIAA, who presently have suits against several other file trading services, song-swapping is as popular as ever. Napster and Madster were popular at one point, but users have long ago moved onto other services like KaZaa and iMesh. Most of these services have expatriated to other countries, making them harder for the music industry to shut them down even if they win an injunction in US courts.
That is why the dismantling of Napster and Madster is not as big a victory as the RIAA may claim. Still, they have set legal precedent that will be left unchallenged making the RIAA's road in US courts easier.
The Apple iPod for Windows is available on Amazon in 10GB and 20GB versions.
Other MP3 Stories:
Ogg Vorbis Makes Run for Portable Music Players.
A Third Hack on RIAA Site
New P2P News Site Goes Online
Trade Files? The US Attorney General May Be Coming After YOU.
HMV to Sell Digital Music Online.