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Judges rule file-sharing software legal

A federal appeals court has ruled that file-sharing software is in fact legal. The panel noted that file-sharing companies simply provide the software for individual users to share information. Therefore, they cannot be held accountable for what users share, be it a word document or copyrighted material.

While developers of file-sharing software are rejoicing about the federal appeals courts ruling, the RIAA and MPAA are steaming mad. This ruling has dealt a serious blow to the two industries, but they have vowed to continue the fight. They have urged a re-examination of the law, and will undoubtedly proceed with an appeal. However, they still face the same old problem : unlike Napster, new file-sharing networks don't have central servers where computer connect to access copyrighted material. This technique makes file-sharing networks like Sharman and Stream cast even harder to shutdown.

If this ruling had not gone through (i.e. the RIAA / MPAA won), several file-sharing developers would have had to face the possibility of further legal action. Right now, those file-sharing developers (Grokster Ltd, Stream cast Networks Inc. and Sharman Networks Ltd.) are in the clear. The situation is such that the RIAA & MPAA won't stop until file-sharing is a thing of the past : read - they'll never stop. Problem is, you can't shut down file sharing networks with legal action.

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View: Final Decision (PDF) | EFF Commentary

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