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September 15, 2005

RIAA Sends Warning Letters To File-Sharing Companies

Courtesy of InternetWeek

The Recording Industry Association of America on Thursday confirmed that it has sent warning letters to several file-sharing companies.

A spokeswoman said seven cease-and-desist letters were sent, but declined to name the companies. The Wall Street Journal, however, on Thursday identified three of the companies as BearShare, LimeWire and WinMX.

BearShare and WinMX were not immediately available for comment, and a LimeWire spokeswoman declined comment.

Due to a recent Supreme Court decision, the music industry trade group said there was little file-sharing firms could hide behind legally, if they failed to prevent subscribers from trading in copyrighted materially illegally.

In the case of MGM versus Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc., the high court found in June that file-sharing services could use filters or take other technological steps to prevent customers from sharing music and movies illegally.

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

The RIAA said record companies have shown a "strong desire" to work with legitimate online businesses to provide music legally.

"In short: the transition to a legitimate online model is clear and achievable; the implications associated with ignoring that opportunity are great," the industry group said.

To avoid a potential RIAA lawsuit, file-sharing companies have the option of either implementing technology acceptable to the RIAA or shutting down.

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