It’s not the RIAA this time, but a group of artists led by FilmOn founder Alki David. They’re suing CNET’s owner, CBS Interactive, for being the main distributor of LimeWire software — a favorite P2P client among music pirates.
According to the complaint, CNET’s Download.com distributed more than 220 million copies of the file sharing software, around 95 percent of all LimeWire downloads since 2008.
The plaintiffs accuse CNET of receiving incentives (pay per download) from the P2P file sharing company for every download, on top of revenue generated by display ads — motivating the site to continue distributing LimeWire despite being “well aware that these software applications were used overwhelmingly to infringe.”
That’s not all. The plaintiffs say CNET is not only distributing LimeWire’s installation files, but also “furnished articles and other content that explained how users could use P2P software to infringe.”
Developing or providing downloads and using P2P software by itself isn’t illegal. It’s really just another technology enabling users to share files, at a larger scale. It’s illegal only when users share copyrighted materials. It’s really the users who are at fault here, not the software developer and distributor.
Putting the blame on them, LimeWire and CNET, is like blaming Osama bin Laden’s parents for giving birth to him, or ticketing the car maker when its driver is speeding.
So why aren’t these copyright holders going after individuals that shared their work instead? Maybe they did, but the outcome hasn’t been particularly encouraging.
Unless the entertainment industry is trying to make lawsuits its main income source, I don’t see how suing everyone can revive it. Perhaps they should try treating paying customers better.
Sometimes it’s really not about the money. User experience matters too.