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Innocent file-sharers could appear guilty

A research paper highlighting security weaknesses in a popular internet file-sharing network has raised concerns that innocent users could in theory be wrongly accused of sharing copyrighted music.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents the largest US music companies, has already begun legal action against 261 file-sharers who are accused of sharing "substantial" amounts of copyrighted material through peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.

The RIAA carried out surveillance of P2P networks to determine the usernames of alleged copyright infringers. A subset of these users was then tracked down via their internet service providers.

So far, 52 have agreed to settle with the RIAA for a few thousand dollars each. A further 838 have admitted infringements and promised to destroy illegally obtained files in return for a legal amnesty. An estimated 62 million Americans are thought to have used P2P networks, though it is not known how many have illegally shared music.

The anonymous paper, Entrapment: Incriminating Peer to Peer Network Users, was posted to a free Australian web hosting service and suggests some users could claim that the evidence on which they are brought to trial is flawed. Experts contacted by New Scientist say the paper is a credible piece of work.

News source: NewScientist - Innocent file-sharers could appear guilty

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