RealTime IT News

P2P Outfit in False Ad Pinch

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) won a temporary court order earlier this week to rein in the advertising practices of an Internet operation claiming "file-sharing is 100 percent legal."

The FTC says the 100 percent legal claim is 100 percent false.

According to the FTC, MP3DownloadCity.com markets and sells a $24.95 "tutorial and referral service" that promotes the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) software programs to download digital music, movies and computer games.

Unlike a licensed subscription service, the site's service does not provide its customers with a license to download and share copyrighted material. Instead, it instructs consumers how to use free P2P file-sharing software provided by others, such as Kazaa and Grokster.

"And best of all, people are not getting sued for using our software," the site's advertising stated. "Yes! It is 100 percent legal."

The FTC notes that the site's customers who use P2P programs to download copyrighted material, or who make it available to others, without the copyright owner's permission, are engaged in copyright infringement and could face civil and criminal liability.

The FTC claims the site and its principal, Cashier Myricks Jr. of Los Angeles, violated the FTC Act by falsely claiming that membership in its service makes P2P file-sharing legal.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that P2P technology is legal but that the owners of the music downloading sites are legally responsible for the illegal acts of their users.

The FTC asked the court to order a permanent halt to the deceptive claims, force Myricks to pay consumer redress or to give up his ill-gotten gains and notify customers that they could face civil and criminal liability.