eDonkey Firm to Pay RIAA $30 Million

MetaMachine, the company behind the popular file sharing software eDonkey, has agreed to pay the Recording Industry Association of America $30 million to settle claims it facilitated mass copyright infringement.

"With this new settlement, another domino falls, and we have further strengthened the footing of the legal marketplace," said RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol. The RIAA previously settled with the operators of BearShare, i2Hub, WinMX, and Grokster.

As part of the settlement, MetaMachine has agreed to cease distributing eDonkey, eDonkey 2000, Overnet and other variants of the peer-to-peer software. However, the company previously announced its intention to throw in the towel last year, after the Supreme Court ruled file sharing networks could be liable for the actions of their users.

MetaMachine CEO Sam Yagan explained at the time that his company will, "convert eDonkey's user base to an online content retailer operating in a closed P2P environment," and said he expects "such a transaction to take place as soon as we can reach a settlement with the RIAA."

Still, it's unlikely that Tuesday's settlement will have any impact on the eDonkey file sharing network itself, which exists without a centralized server that can be shut down. An open source iteration of the software, known as eMule, continues to be developed and is now in use by the vast majority of eDonkey downloaders.

eDonkey's Web site was left with an ominous warning Tuesday, noting that, "Courts around the world -- including the United States Supreme Court -- have ruled that businesses and individuals can be prosecuted for illegal downloading."

"You are not anonymous when you illegally download copyrighted material," the site adds, "Respect the music, download legally."

The RIAA is continuing its legal efforts against those P2P networks still standing, including LimeWire, Soulseek and Warez P2P. The industry sued LimeWire in August, accusing the company of facilitating the trade of illegal music files between its users. The labels are seeking damages, including $150,000 per occurrence of an illegally traded file.

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