Record Labels Lose Big as Court Declares File-Sharing Tools Legal

An epic battle between the world's largest record companies and the creator of software known as the "Spanish Napster" has concluded with defeat for the labels. Veteran developer Pablo Soto informs TorrentFreak that the decision clears the way for even more development, starting today with a brand new, BitTorrent-powered release of his software.

In 2008, Universal, Sony, EMI, Warner and “Spanish RIAA” Promusicae (Productores de Música de España) joined forces to sue MP2P Technologies, a company created by Pablo Soto, the brains behind Blubster, the “Spanish Napster” file-sharing software.

The record companies said that Soto had designed his Blubster, Piolet and Manolito software with the intent of providing a platform for users to pirate music while he generated profit. This, the labels said, amounted to unfair competition in the market. Soto should pay them 13 million euros ($18m) in damages, the labels argued.

Following years of litigation, in 2011 a Madrid court handed defeat to the labels by declaring Soto’s technology neutral. While his users may have infringed copyright, Soto was not responsible for that, the court said. Furthermore, since Soto wasn’t in the record business and the labels weren’t in the file-sharing business, the unfair competition claim was also dismissed.

After investing so much time in the case, the labels weren’t prepared to concede defeat. The case went to the Madrid Court of Appeals which has just made its decision public. It’s a decisive win for Soto and a big loss for the labels.

“[Soto’s] activity is not only neutral, and perfectly legal, moreover it is protected by article 38 of our Constitution,” the Court wrote in its ruling.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Soto says that the Court saw no problem with sharing technology and discovered no plan “to sink or unbalance the recording industry” or obstruct the development of its business.

“The court affirmed — yet again — that [the creation of sharing technologies] is not an act of looting, unfair competition or unfair benefit from others’ effort,” Soto informs TF.

The Spaniard, who has been developing software since he was 16 years old, adds that the win is not only good news for him, but also for others seeking to innovate.

“This clears the path for more opportunities to bring leading edge technologies to the marketplace and no longer be distracted by misguided legal tactics from the copyright conglomerates. We really appreciate and thank our loyal following, especially among the readers at TorrentFreak.”

Soto’s lawyer, David Bravo, who described the ruling as having a “very strong foundation”, said developers will now be able to go about their business free from “inventive legal interpretations that define the very creator of a file-sharing tool as the responsible of copyright infringement.”

In celebration of the victory, Soto has released a brand new version of his Blubster software, for the first time powered by BitTorrent.

“While we have continued innovating with Torrents.fm, we can now also focus once again on further creating and offering advanced P2P technology across our other networks with this new version of Blubster just launched today,” Soto told TF.

Traditionally Windows only, Blubster will soon debut on both Linux and Mac.

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