Cyber-rights group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is stepping into the fray to help defend file-sharing program Morpheus.
Dubbed by the music industry as the "new Napster" because of its peer-to-peer foundations, Morpheus has been named in a lawsuit filed by MGM, Columbia, Disney and other Hollywood giants.
Morpheus, distributed by online firm MusicCity, has been one of the many free technologies that stepped into the breach left by Napster.
Other peer-to-peer file sharing programs also getting the evil eye from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) include FastTrack, KaZaa and Grokster.
Just like in the Napster case, the RIAA claims that the technologies offer a channel for large-scale piracy of music and video.
But EFF attorney Robin Gross said: "Just as the entertainment industry tried to ban the VCR, now it aims to outlaw the technology that is the next killer app of the internet."
He added that the US Supreme Court rejected Hollywood's attempts to stifle the innovation of VCR technology in 1984, and said the move set a precedent for this case.
"This case is about the freedom of technologists to innovate and the public's right to communicate," added EFF senior intellectual property attorney, Fred von Lohmann.
A survey conducted last month by online monitoring firm Webnoize found that over 1.81 billion files were exchanged in October over services such as Morpheus.
Andrew Bridges, lead defence counsel for MusicCity, explained that "The landmark Betamax case taught the world that copyright ownership does not confer veto power over the development of technologies with varied uses, so long as those technologies are capable of substantial non-infringing uses. In the end, Hollywood learned how to profit from the new videotape recorder technology," he said.
MusicCity's argument is that peer-to-peer file-sharing technology platforms like Morpheus are not only capable of non-infringing uses, but are being used for non-infringing purposes.
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