A federeal judge in Los Angeles yesterday ruled that StreamCast Networks is liable

The popular file sharing program Morpheus encourages users to download and share music, movies and other copyrighted material without permission, according to a federal judge.  Due to alleged copyright infringement, the Motion Picture Association and Recording Industry Association of America sued StreamCast Networks, the distributor of Morpheus, in 2001.  U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson concluded that there is sufficient evidence that infringement actively takes place on Morpheus.

To help make the ruling, Judge Wilson used e-mails that were sent between StreamCast executives, including one that said that getting in trouble with the law is the best way to get into the news.  Another e-mail reportedly encouraged a user to upload copyrighted material.

It is unknown how much the company will have to pay in damages -- StreamCast is liable for up to $150,000 for each copyrighted song or movie shared with Morpheus.  A StreamCast spokesperson said the company may try to appeal the ruling.

Both the RIAA and MPAA have been engaged in an ongoing battle to try and stop what they view as illegal file sharing.  The RIAA had a part in shutting down the first popular P2P file sharing program Napster in 1998.  The RIAA has also sued the operators of Kazaa and Grokster -- both companies ultimately settled out of court.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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