There has been a war going on for years with the RIAA and MPAA on one side, and various internet companies on the other. Currently the RIAA is fighting Google over an application that is the fifth most popular application on the widely popular Google Android platform of devices.
The RIAA contends that Google should remove the application called MP3 Music Download Pro because the application allows users to search for, find, and download copyrighted music without paying for the downloaded media files. This action if used to download copyrighted music is illegal, and the user downloading the music could potentially be targeted in a lawsuit by either the RIAA or the rights owner.
But there is a problem not only for Google, but for many other similar businesses that provide information that is partly or entirely provided by individuals not associated with the company.
In the case of Google and this particular Android application the number one reason that Google refuses to remove the app is that there are legal uses for the application. Basically if you are a law abiding, by the book person you could download this application to your phone or tablet, and use it for perfectly legal downloads of music that is in the public domain. Of course if you wanted to you could also use it to illegally download copyrighted material, and surely many of the users of this particular application may well do just that.
The problem for Google is that while the developers advertised description and intentions for the application is legal usage, Google’s popular search engine could actually be used to search for, find and download the exact same copyrighted music the application also provides access to. This means if Google folds and removes the application from their Android Market, then what would stop the RIAA from requesting that Google’s search engine be removed from the internet for providing the exact same capabilities to its users.
The other key point in this discussion is that the US Congress has already addressed this exact scenario with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) back in 1996. The DMCA protects companies like Google from copyright infringement by it’s users.
Ultimately it appears that if the RIAA had it way the internet as we know would vanish. Users would no longer have the ability to upload any content, and internet companies would be legally responsible for anything any everything that appears on their websites. In such a world there are not many companies that would be open to allowing their users to possibly cost them money to defend the lawsuits that the RIAA would surely file if they had the right.