RIAA Set Sights on Audiogalaxy

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)is feeling strong. Following the dismantling of Napster and the strong grasp they have on Kazaa and Morpheus they made their move on Audiogalaxy. On Friday the RIAA filed a copyright lawsuit against Audiogalaxy. The lawsuit claims that Audiogalaxy's efforts to filter copyrighted work have failed and that almost all material is available through the network. According to the RIAA, this means that Audiogalaxy is now doing exactly what Napster did in the past and should therefore cease to operate.

If they had demonstrated the ability to filter, we wouldn't be here, said Matt Oppenheim, an RIAA senior vice president. A first-year computer programmer could do better than they have.

Audiogalaxy was one of the first post-Napster file-sharers and has steadily grown to become one of the most popular such services. Unlike most other similar programs Audiogalaxy is web-based and all searches and file requests are handled through its web page. The actual downloads and uploads however, are carried out using their Audiogalaxy Satellite program. According to download.com Audiogalaxy Satellite has been downloaded 30 million times.

Bowing to the pressure on file-sharing services produced by the Napster court case, Audiogalaxy decided to enforce filtered access in mid-2001, making several copyrighted files unavailable through its network. The success of the filtering is what the lawsuit questions according to Oppenheim, 476 copyrighted works, all of which could be downloaded using Audiogalaxy, serve as the basis of the suit.
Oppenheim said the recording industry provided Audiogalaxy with large numbers of songs to be filtered and the labels periodically updated these lists with information about new releases. According to the suit however, many of the songs on the lists still have versions which are freely available for download through the service.

Audiogalaxy's CEO Michael Merhej has not yet commented on the lawsuit.

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