Texas man faces copyright infringement for music downloads

Marilyn Tennissen Aug. 12, 2008, 7:37am

An East Texas man didn't make it to "Paradise City" when he downloaded some tunes from Guns N' Roses and other bands, but instead landed in court facing copyright infringement.

Jeff Gill was sued in federal court July 31 by UMG Recordings, Warner Bros. Records Inc., Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Arista Records LLC. The case was filed in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Court papers say that on Aug. 21, 2007, Gill was identified using LimeWire to download 195 copyrighted audio files over the Internet without the permission or consent of the plaintiffs. LimeWire is not named in the suit.

The plaintiffs claim that peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing systems are responsible for unlawful distribution of copyrighted recordings. P2P networks are computer systems that enable Internet users to search for files, including music recordings, stored on other users' computers and transfer exact copies of files from one computer to another over the Internet.

"P2P networks enable users who otherwise would have no connection with, or knowledge of, each other to provide a sophisticated search mechanism by which users can locate these files for downloading and to reproduce and distribute files off of their personal computers," plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Scott writes in the original complaint.

Users of P2P networks can be identified by tracking the users' unique Internet Protocol addresses.

"Plaintiffs identified an individual using LimeWire on the P2P network Gnutella at IP address on Aug. 21, 2007, at 21:59:25 EDT distributing 195 audio files over the Internet," the complaint states. "The defendant was identified as the individual responsible for that IP address at that date and time."

The plaintiffs allege that as of that date, Gill continues to use the P2P network to download or distribute copyrighted recordings without permission or consent. The complaint states that Gill's activities are believed to "have been ongoing for some time."

The copyright infringement is willful and intentional, plaintiffs claim, because proper notices of copyright are readily available on published copies of each recording.

Plaintiffs are asking the court for an injunction prohibiting Gill from further infringement of the copyrights, and an order for Gill to destroy all music recordings he has downloaded.

Exhibit A, attached to the original complaint, lists 10 songs that Gill allegedly downloaded illegally: "Live for Today," "Away from the Sun," and "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down; "Intoxication" by Disturbed; "Better Than Me" by Hinder; "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses; "The Reason" by Hoobastank; "Scars" by Papa Roach; "Twist" by Korn and "It Must Be Love" by Alan Jackson.

The plaintiffs are seeking statutory damages for each infringement, costs, attorneys' fees and other relief.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard Shell.

Case No. 4:08-cv-280-RAS

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