US entertainment industry associations may bounce back from a US judge's landmark ruling against their pursuit of file sharing developers by going after users.
Their claimed campaign against piracy hit a setback after a Judge ruled earlier this week that two companies developing file sharing programs could not be liable for copyright infringement.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had tried to get a legal ruling to make Grokster and StreamCast Networks accountable for copyright infringement, because some people use the software they have developed to swap music and films illegally.
But Los Angeles federal judge Stephen Wilson invoked a ruling from a 1984 supreme court hearing that said Sony could not be held accountable for people using its Betamax video recorders to make copies of films and TV programmes.
Judge Wilson said in his ruling: "Grokster and StreamCast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be, and are, used to infringe copyrights."
Napster orginally tried this line of defence in its battles with the RIAA, unsuccessfully because it hosted files whereas both Grokster and StreamCast do not.
Both the RIAA and the MPAA, which blame illegal file sharing programs for a worldwide decline in CD sales, said they would appeal the ruling. But if they lose they have threatened to pursue individual users.
Wayne Rosso, Grokster's president, described such action as "absolutely ridiculous".
"If they want to appeal the ruling I say good luck to them, as I don't see how they can get it overturned without a change in congressional legislation," he told vnunet.com.
"These people are mean, vengeful and arrogant, and there is no upside to suing individual users. This fight against technology goes back to the beginnings of TV when the film industry whined about it causing the death of the movie industry.
"It didn't, but they then said the same thing about videos and then cassettes. The internet could be a huge potential source of revenue for the industry, so what they should be doing it talking to us, not trying to sue people."
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