U.S. judge pokes hole in file-sharing lawsuit

The ruling was handed down in a case filed a year ago against Christopher David Brennan of Waterford, Connecticut, by plaintiffs Atlantic Recording, Electra Entertainment Group, Interscope Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and BMG Music.

The record companies allege that Brennan infringed on copyrights they hold by having some 2,071 songs on his PC, including Hootie and the Blowfish's "Drowning" and Billy Joel's "Don't Ask Me Why."

Court records show that Brennan's mother was served a notice that he needed to appear in court, but he never showed up. So the record labels asked for a default judgment, which would have meant Brennan would have to pay the labels for each infringing file, among other remedies. In their original complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for Connecticut, the record labels alleged that Brennan used an "online media distribution system" to "make...available" copyrighted recordings.

But on Feb. 13, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton denied granting a default judgment, writing that the record labels failed to show Brennan was actually distributing copies of songs, which he said is what is against the law. The record labels' "allegations of infringement lack any factual grounding whatsoever" and adding that the suit has a "nonexistent factual record," Arterton wrote.

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