Altnet Sue RIAA

Altnet are suing the a group of companies, consisting of Overpeer, MediaDefender and the RIAA, over patent infringement. Altnet, a peer-to-peer company and joint venture between Brilliant Digital Entertainment and Joltid, claim that the companies have infringed a patent Altnet hold whilst undertaking their copyright campaign with peer to peer networks to root out illegally distributed music and files.

The patent itself refers to a technique that can read the digital fingerprint of a file held on a network, thus identifying a music track, video or other infringing file. Altnet approached the companies with the technology in 2003 with the view to entering licensing agreements, but had no success. Since then, the three accused companies have used fingerprinting in their campaign to rid P2P networks of infringed IP, without Altnet’s permission. Subsequently, the company sent a number of cease and desist letters to discourage further infringement.

Joltid was founded by Kazaa’s creators after Sharman Networks picked up the popular P2P client. Altnet’s P2P technologies are used by Atari and Intervideo, amongst others, to distribute and sell content.

Overpeer has denied infringing any of Altnet’s IP, but the RIAA is yet to make a statement. Overpeer and MediaDefender claim that their techniques involve swamping P2P networks with desirable, though entirely fake, files to put downloaders off trying to acquire infringing content.

Altnet Chief Executive Officer Kevin Bermeister said in a statement: “We’ve exhausted every means of trying to work with these defendants and those they represent to patiently encourage and positively develop the P2P distribution channel. We cannot stand by and allow them to erode our business opportunity by the wholesale infringement of our rights.”


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?