Madster ordered to shut down

A federal judge ordered the Madster file trading software service, formerly known as Aimster, to shut down, saying that the service continues to violate copyright law despite a preliminary injunction.

The temporary restraining order was issued on Monday in the Northern Illinois District Court by judge Marvin Aspen, compelling Madster to shut off all computers while contempt proceedings continue. The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until Dec. 22, or until further order from the court, and a hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19.

The judge had already issued a preliminary injunction against Madster and its owner John Deep, finding in favor of record companies that are members of the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) who have accused Madster of infringing the record companies' copyright.

In the order, Aspen wrote that Madster is "continuing to infringe the (record companies') copyrights despite the preliminary injunction order. Unless a temporary restraining order is issued, (the labels) will continue to suffer irreparable harm, which is increasing."

The service, which like Napster before it, allows users to swap music files, has been known as Madster since February, when the Aimster domain name was assigned to AOL.

The original injunction was granted against defendants BuddyUSA Inc., AbovePeer Inc. and Deep, founder of BuddyUSA and president and chief executive officer of AbovePeer. BuddyUSA is the registered owner of the Madster site and AbovePeer operates the site.

Deep could not be immediately contacted for comment, but as of early Wednesday, the Madster Web site continued to advertise US$4.95 a month memberships.

The RIAA applauded Aspen's order saying that Madster and Deep have no excuse for not complying with the court’s Nov. 4th preliminary injunction. "This temporary restraining order will certainly make clear that the infringement must stop immediately, whether that is through Aimster’s actions or actions by its Internet Service Provider,” the RIAA said in a statement Tuesday.

The RIAA is also currently involved in a similar suit against popular file-swapping services such as Morpheus and Kazaa, accusing the peer-to-peer (P-to-P) operators of assisting copyright infringement on a massive scale. On Monday, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Stephen Wilson, in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, in Los Angeles, heard arguments from both sides.

In that case, the music and motion picture industries have request a summary judgment shutting the sites down while the P-to-P services have called for a summary judgment of their own, asking that the case be tossed out of court. Judge Wilson is expected to rule in the coming weeks, either granting one of the summary judgments or bringing the case to trial.

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Laura Rohde

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