After an earlier decision failed to reach its objective, this week a Brazilian court made an unprecedented ruling against file-sharing clients. Following legal action by anti-piracy groups against a website offering a file-sharing client for download, the court decided that software which allows users to share music via P2P is illegal.
Two years ago, legal action was initiated by the Protective Association of Phonographic Intellectual Property Rights (APDIF). The outfit, an anti-piracy group now part of the Anti-Piracy Association of Film and Music (APCM), unsurprisingly counts EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner as key members.
The lawsuit was issued against Cadare Information Technology Ltd, a company which controls the iPlay.com.br site.
iPlay distributed a piece of popular P2P file-sharing software known as K-Lite Nitro, which allows users to download from several P2P networks including Gnutella, OpenFT and Ares.
In February this year a judge decided that rather than force iPlay to remove K-Lite Nitro from its site, the software should have a copyright filter implemented instead, to block sharing of unauthorized music. The anti-piracy groups promptly provided a list of 4 million tracks to be filtered.
However, the ruling fell flat since iPlay are not the developers of the software and have no control over it, so the case headed back to court.
Following a trial on August 25th, on Monday this week the 6th Civil Chamber of the Court of Paraná in southern Brazil handed down an unprecedented ruling.
The judge came to the conclusion that since the proposed K-Lite Nitro filtering mechanism was ineffective, he had no alternative than to issue a complete ban on the software instead, saying that the website offering it would be assisting the copyright infringements of its users.
He went on to suggest that any website offering the software alongside advertising (i.e, trying to profit from offering it) would be committing a crime, punishable by between two and four years in jail.
“By this logic, virtually any site in Brazil that offers P2P clients would be subject to accountability, to have their business threatened by the alleged illegality of the act of hosting certain types of software,” said Omar Kaminski, author of attorney Internet Legal, a blog specializing in IT law.
Announcing that Cadare Information Technology will appeal the decision, Nelson Cadare Luciano, owner of iPlay said: “We will defend ourselves because we always had the feeling that it [K-Lite Nitro] is not illegal since you can use it to share legal content as well.”
APCM said that the ruling is “important for the future of the digital music market in Brazil.”
Currently K-Lite Nitro has been removed from the iPlay site, but can be obtained from a number of other sources.