In a move to head off any possible legal action taken against it by the RIAA, Albany, N.Y. based Aimster has filed suit in U.S. District Court against the trade group it says wants to do to it what its done to Napster.
Aimster, a technology that users can attach to AOL’s instant messenger, allows users to share music files only with the individuals on that person’s “buddy list,” and has attracted about 4.2 million users. Aimster says that it is doing nothing wrong, and wants the court to validate that opinion in an effort to prevent the RIAA from setting its sights on the Napster-like technology. The company says it filed the suit because it had received a “cease and desist” letter from the RIAA. The suit asks the federal court for a declaratory judgement that the company is not infringing on copyrights.
After an appeals court ruling in February that paved the way for an injunction against Napster, the RIAA began sending out legal notices to Internet Service Providers allowing connections to Napster clones, warning them these users were in violation of copyright laws. The RIAA has said it will attempt to monitor the activities of users of Napster clones like Aimster, but Aimster says that any attempt to monitor the file-swapping activities of Aimster’s members would itself be a violation of federal copyright law.
The law firm of Boies, Schiller and Flexner, which is representing Aimster, also represents Napster.