A U.S. court has ordered a Web site that bills itself as " Napster's Number One Replacement Software" to stop promising customers that they won't face copyright lawsuits when they download songs for free, the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.
MP3DownloadCity.com sells a tutorial service that tells consumers how to use "peer to peer" software like Kazaa to download movies, music and other files for free.
MP3DownloadCity led consumers to believe that they would not be sued if they paid $24.95 for the tutorial with claims like "Rest assured that File-Sharing is 100 percent legal," the FTC charged.
Recording companies and movie studios have sued thousands of peer-to-peer users for copyright infringement over the past several years, and the Supreme Court ruled in June that peer-to-peer makers could be sued if they induce users to copy material without permission.
A U.S. court in California ordered MP3DownloadCity.com to temporarily remove its claims as it considers the FTC's request for a permanent ban.
The individual named in the FTC's complaint, Cashier Myricks, could not be reached for comment.
An FTC official said the agency would try to get Myricks to return the money he collected from thousands of users.
The FTC also may try to get Myricks to state more clearly that he is selling a tutorial and not actual download software, staff attorney Matthew Daynard said.
"The main point is we don't want people getting sued over copyrighted material," Daynard said.
The Center for Democracy and Technology, a consumer rights group, asked the FTC to investigate the Web site in March, along with another Web site making similar claims, MyMusicInc.com.
"It promotes copyright infringement and it also undermines the efforts to develop a legitimate market because it sows confusion about what's legal and what's not," CDT staff attorney David Sohn said.
MyMusicInc.com now states that sharing copyrighted material without permission is illegal.