This might be some of the weirdest copyright related news we've run across in a while. FilmOn founder Alki David has teamed up with a slew of musicians to file a lawsuit against CBS Interactive and CNET over CNET's distribution of LimeWire. Back in November, a federal judge had to issue a restraining order against FilmOn because it was streaming content from, you guessed it, CBS.
The rappers involved include The Ying Yang Twins, 2 Live Crew, JT Money, The Force MDs and J-Shin, among others. The lawsuit claims that since CNET was a distributor of LimeWire (before it was taken down last year), they're owed revenue. They're claiming that CBS "received massive amounts of revenue from P2P providers on a 'pay per download' basis and also from advertising revenue." We're assuming this is related solely to the ad revenue garnered from the landing page for LimeWire, as LimeWire was a free program, no matter where you downloaded it from.
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But P2P software isn't illegal -- although, in some cases, companies that used it to encourage copyright infringement have been held liable. One of the plaintiffs, Mike Mozart even collected samples of the supposed offenses, including strange letters where the editors at CNET congratulate a woman for stopping piracy and switching to legal alternatives. Others that highlight how P2P software can be used for music piracy are highlighted, but none of them overtly recommend it.
The plaintiff's contention is that CNET was an enabler by offering up the free software for download, Mozart even states, "The Internet Piracy Phenomenon was fueled in large part by the distribution of P2P software by CNET."
Today David announced the lawsuit as well as his plans to seek out more artists for his lawsuit, which he hopes will be the most significant infringement case in history. You can actually sign up to be part of the suit if you'd like.
The whole thing is utterly bizarre. Even if you dismiss the fact this seems based wholly on revenge for the judge's injunction against FilmOn, it makes little sense from a business standpoint for CBS Interactive to be assisting illegal downloads, as they're one the major companies producing TV shows, books, music and more. By providing users with access to LimeWire, they merely kept with their ideals of distributing freeware software to people looking for it, but it's still probably worth noting that neither CNET nor Download.com link to a copy of LimeWire any longer.