RealTime IT News

File-Sharing Trickster to Pay For Scam

A man who duped customers into believing they could download copyrighted MP3 files without violating the law has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that his claims were false.

Cashier Myricks, Jr., operator of mp3downloadcity.com, agreed to pay $15,240 to the 611 customers who signed up to use the service to exchange music, movie and game files.

The FTC said in a statement that Myricks is also barred from misrepresentations about P2P file-sharing products or services and must explain the civil and criminal liability risks of downloading copyrighted material without the owner's permission.

The settlement is the latest example of how federal agencies and businesses are cracking down on the use of file sharing under false pretenses for financial gains.

For example, P2P software maker StreamCast Networks added to a running $4.1 billion suit versus eBay and 21 others for transferring away the rights to its FastTrack technology.

In this case, the FTC sued Myricks in a Los Angeles federal court last year, alleging that he used his Web site to market and sell a tutorial and referral service that promoted the use of P2P file-sharing software programs to download digital music, movies and computer games.

Unlike a licensed subscription service, Myricks' service did not provide its customers with a license to download and share copyrighted music, movies or games.

But for $24.95, the defendant instructed consumers on the use of free P2P file-sharing software provided by Kazaa, BitTorrent or the now defunct Grokster service.

The FTC said consumers were lured to become members by deceptive claims that subscribing to the defendant's service made P2P file sharing "100% legal."

In truth, Myricks' customers who used P2P file-sharing programs to download copyrighted material without the copyright owner's permission were illegally infringing on copyrighted material.

Myricks has already made an effort to comply with one of the FTC's demands, adding a disclaimer to the bottom of his site, now called findanymusic.com, about file sharing:

"Using P2P programs to download copyrighted music, movies, games, or other material without a license from the copyright holder can subject you to lawsuits, fines and even criminal prosecution."

The settlement also contains record keeping provisions to allow the FTC to monitor Myricks' compliance.