FilmOn founder rallies lawsuit against CBS, CNET & LimeWire

A major copyright infringement hearing against the now-defunct peer-to-peer file sharing program LimeWire is already underway, but this week a new round of plaintiffs have filed yet another lawsuit against the company along with media company CBS Interactive and its subsidiary CNET.

The lead plaintiff in the case filed this week in California District Court is billionaire Alki David, the eccentric founder of FilmOn.com who released a 10 minute YouTube tirade in December accusing CBS executives of being “hypocritical, thieving liars” for blocking their programming from airing on his site after encouraging downloads of LimeWire from their subsidiary CNET. At the end of that video, David vowed to fight the broadcasting giant, and now seems to be making good on that promise.

FilmOn founder rallies lawsuit against CBS, CNET & LimeWire

The billionaire rounded up over a dozen rap and hip hop artists, including members of 2 Live Crew and Ying Yang Twins, to file the complaint alleging that CBS knowingly contributed to LimeWire piracy-issues by hosting the application on websites including CNET.

“The CBS Defendants’ business model has been so dependent upon P2P and file-sharing that entire pages of Download.com are designed to specifically list and categorize these software offerings,” the complaint says. “In fact, the CBS Defendants’ were well aware that these software applications were used overwhelmingly to infringe when they first partnered with LimeWire and other P2P providers, but ignored it in exchange for a steady stream of income.”

LimeWire was downloaded over 220 million times from CBS-owned sites, generating “massive amounts of revenue from P2P providers,” the plaintiffs claim. Additionally, they allege that the websites supplied instructions on how to remove DRM from digital music and share infringing files.

A CBS representative told The Hollywood Reporter that the case is a “desperate attempt to distract copyright holders like us from continuing our rightful claims.”

“CBS and a host of other media companies were awarded a court ordered injunction against one of Alki David’s companies last year with respect to that company’s improper use of copyrighted content,” the network representative wrote. “His lawsuit against CBS affiliates is riddled with inaccuracies, and we are confident that we will prevail, just as we did in the injunction hearing involving his company.”

If CBS Interactive is found guilty of contributory liability in this case, the door would be opened for similar cases to be initiated by copyright holders. This begs the questions of where piracy-related liability ends and whose responsibility it is to stop it. The answer is in the hands of the court system.