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The distributor of the Kazaa software for sharing songs, movies and other files online cannot pursue an antitrust lawsuit against major recording labels and movie studios, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled. Sharman Networks made the antitrust claims in January as part of its defense of a copyright infringement suit filed by the entertainment firms. Sharman argued that music labels and studios conspired to keep authorized and copy-protected versions of their songs and movies off Kazaa. It essentially blamed piracy on the entertainment companies, saying they failed to work with Sharman to create a legal alternative. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson dismissed Sharman’s claims, which many copyright lawyers had considered a stretch. In Thursday’s ruling, Wilson said that even if the allegations were true, Sharman would not be entitled to damages because it distributes file-sharing software and not online entertainment. “Sharman Networks was grasping at straws to distract the court from their own improper behavior,” said Matthew Oppenheim of the Recording Industry Association of America. “We are pleased that the court recognized what we have said all along — that these claims lacked any merit.” The copyright claims against Sharman remain pending. Wilson previously ruled that two other file-sharing companies, StreamCast Networks and Grokster, are not to blame for any illegal copying conducted by the services’ users. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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