BearShare Settles with RIAA for $30m

Free Peers, the company that owned and operated the BearShare network, has agreed to pay $30 million to the Recording Industry Association of America to avoid a copyright infringement lawsuit, court documents indicated Thursday.

Free Peers has also agreed to disband and promised to not operate any unlicensed music download services.

The company was one of seven that received letters last year from the record industry demanding their immediate shutdown. i2Hub and WinMX have since complied, however Warez P2P, Limewire, eDonkey and Soulseek have not.

As part of the settlement, Free Peers would also sell its technology, domain name and user data to iMesh, a legal P2P service. iMesh last year agreed to a $4.1 settlement and relaunched as a licensed P2P operation. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"iMesh is committed to transitioning the compelling experience of P2P to an authorized marketplace," iMesh Executive Chairman Robert Summer said in a statement. "Our strategy includes expansion through acquisition and the purchase of assets."

The payment is the second largest by a P2P firm after Grokster, which last year agreed to pay $50 million to Hollywood film studios in order to settle its copyright infringement case.

The RIAA applauded the decision, saying the Grokster case gave it the leverage needed to force a settlement with Free Peers. The group said the Supreme Court's ruling that P2P networks could be held liable for their users' actions was transforming the digital music marketplace.

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