RIAA sues Streamcast over nonexistent radio

Streamcast Network, developer of the Morpheus file sharing software, is being sued again by the recording industry, this time for a Web radio service that never got off the ground.

The suit, which the Recording Industry Association of America said it filed May 28 in a federal court in Nashville, alleges that Streamcast bought thousands of CDs and transferred the music on to a digital database and various memory devices without the permission of copyright owners. The music was alleged to be used for Streamcast's Web radio service.

The RIAA says the lawsuit is but another step in its ongoing litigation against Streamcast, which it believes is responsible for widespread copyright infringement. But Streamcast notes that the suit was filed only a month after the recording industry lost a court decision against it in a separate copyright lawsuit. In that decision, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled Streamcast and Grokster, which distributes another P2P program, were not legally responsible for unauthorized file trading because they could not control those who used their P2P networks.

Streamcast CEO Michael Weiss says the entertainment industry is reverting back to the only tactic it has in this fight - spending its opponents into submission.

In 1999, the RIAA filed a similar lawsuit against MP3.com in which MP3.com was forced to pay a settlement totaling more than US$100 million. But Weiss noted that Streamcast gave up the effort to develop the radio service in 1999 after it was unable to get licenses from the record labels to use the music. This will not prevent the music industry from using its deep pockets to drag Streamcast back in court and begin another round of legal attrition.

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