RIAA wins another round against Madster

Handing yet another victory to the music industry in the battle over peer-to-peer (P-to-P) file trading, a U.S. appeals court upheld an injunction against the Madster file trading network this week, ruling that "willful blindness" of copyright violation occurring over its network does not mean it is not liable.

The ruling, made by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago Monday, is the second blow to Madster -- formerly called Aimster -- and one in a string of recent successes for the music industry in its battle against copyright infringement over P-to-P networks.

Madster was originally ordered to shut down last year pending a trial.

Madster owner John Deep had been arguing that the encryption feature of his service prevented him from knowing exactly what users were trading over the network. However, the court ruled that "willful blindness is knowledge in copyright law."

In its decision, the court panel stated that "one who, knowing or strongly suspecting that he is involved in shady dealings, takes steps to make sure that he does not acquire full or exact knowledge of the nature of those dealings is held to have criminal intent."

The decision adds more weaponry to the music industry's P-to-P fighting arsenal by essentially ruling that network owners cannot turn a blind eye to copyright infringement.

The recording industry lauded the decision this week.

"We're delighted by this decision which makes clear ... that companies cannot profit from copyright infringement. A peer-to-peer service is not off the hook simply because it claims there may be legitimate uses of its network," Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) President Cary Sherman said in a statement.

The decision could stir more concern for P-to-P users, however, since the RIAA has recently said it would begin targeting individuals for copyright violation.

In fact, Sherman went on to state that, "the decision also reaffirms - yet again - that when individuals 'share' copyrighted music, without permission of the copyright holder, they are liable for direct copyright infringement."

Madster representatives were not available to comment on the court decision Tuesday.

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Scarlet Pruitt

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