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Legal risk of software authoring?

I know this isn't precisely Debian related, but this is the only place I
can think of to pose the question (and get useful responses)...

In the post-Napster era, does anyone have an opinion on what the legal
risk might be to individual authors of file-swapping technology?

I am thinking that while it might not be possible to shut down a Gnutella
or Freenet by suing the operating company, it might be possible to stifle
development by suing individual software authors.

The strength of Gnutella/Freenet has always been held to be that there is
no central server, and therefore nothing to shut down.  However, there are
not really all that many clients available, and they were written by a
small number of developers, each of whom could be named as a defendant.

Napster, of course, was expressly designed to share .mp3 files, whereas
Gnutella/Freenet are designed to share any type of file.  This gives them
much more solid legal ground to start from.  Regardless, it still seems
that there is some substantial risk there....

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