RIAA Settles With Audiogalaxy

Another file-trading surface is forced to block unauthorized access to copyrighted files

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has announced an out-of-court settlement of its lawsuit with file-trading service Audiogalaxy. "We are pleased to settle this case quickly," says RIAA Chairman and CEO Hilary Rosen. "This is a victory for everyone who cares about protecting the value of music. This should serve as a wake-up call to the other networks that facilitate unauthorized copying. The responsibility for implementing systems that allow for the authorized use of copyrighted works rests squarely on the shoulders of the peer-to-peer network."

Similar to the RIAA's settlement with Napster, Audiogalaxy must halt the infringement of copyrighted songs on its site and pay what is described as a "substantial sum" to music publishers and the recording industry. Audiogalaxy will be allowed to continue operations using a "filter-in" system, which ensures that any songs swapped on the site are done so with the consent of the songwriter, music publisher and/or recording company.

The settlement comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the RIAA in May, which alleged that Audiogalaxy was "facilitating and encouraging widespread copyright infringement." With the terms of the settlement effective immediately, files by bands such as Wilco -- whose entire new album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was available on Audiogalaxy prior to its proper release -- are now unavailable.

Current posts by file-seekers on Audiogalaxy's bulletin board are predictably bitter, terming the decision "appalling," wondering where to go next to get free music, and complaining that even files by unknown bands were blocked.

One of the more popular alternatives to Napster after the file-trading giant was crippled by the terms of its settlement with the RIAA, the Texas-based Audiogalaxy was one of several sites such as Kazaa and Limewire that stepped in to take its place.