First peer-to-peer filesharing convictions

US crackdown on networks reaps first rewards

The first convictions for peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing have been recorded in the US. Two men who operated central hubs in a peer-to-peer community today pleaded guilty to charges of criminal copyright infringement. US government investigators had downloaded several thousands of dollars worth of copyright works from websites operated by the men.

The convictions came on the same day as it was announced that the legal downloading of music from paid for sites had increased more than ten-fold in 2004 in the US and Europe, showing the increasing success of copyright owners in making it easier and more attractive for end users to pay for copyright works rather than to copy them illegally.

However attempts to close down the P2P services which enable users to share material have yet to meet with similar success. In December 2004 the US Supreme Court granted permission for the US recoding industry to appeal the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeal’s ruling of 19 August 2000 that file-sharing services (such as Grokster) could not be held liable for the copyright infringement facilitated by their software.