A U.S. Federal Court judge found Wednesday that the makers of Morpheus online file-sharing software encouraged users to share copyrighted works such as music and movies without authorization.

In a decision being hailed as a major win for the U.S. movie and music recording industries, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson granted a motion from a coalition of companies against StreamCast Networks Inc. of Los Angeles, issuing a summary judgment against the software firm.

Wilson said in a 60-page ruling there was ample evidence of "massive infringement" by StreamCast, a charge the company denies, stressing it did not promote copyright violation by Morpheus users.

In 2003, Wilson ruled that file-sharing firms could not be held liable for the actions of the users of their software, a decision upheld by the appeals courts.

In a separate case, the maker of LimeWire online file-sharing software filed a counterclaim against recording industry giants in New York district court Monday, alleging they employed unfair business practices as part of a conspiracy to control digital distribution technology.

Lime WireLLC was sued in August by more than a dozen recording labels, which the software company alleges in court documents "employed unlawful, unfair and/or deceptive business practices … aimed at deterring the consumer from engaging in legitimate business with Lime Wire."

Downloading in Canada

Earlier this year,Bill C-60, a set of changes to Canada's Copyright Act aimed at curbing downloads of copyrighted material over the internet, died on the order paper with the federal election call that saw the Liberal government voted out of office.

One of the changes proposed in C-60 would have made it illegal to leave computer directories containing copyrighted material open to file-sharing networks such as Morpheus, LimeWire and Kazaa, negating a 2004 Federal Court ruling.

Other provisions in C-60 would have made it illegal to circumvent anti-copying measures on copyrighted works, and exempted internet service providers such as Bell, Telus and Rogers from copyright liability.

In 2004, Judge Konrad von Finckenstein ruled that individuals may share personal copies of music files on the internet after he rejected a recording industry motion to sue them.

Leaving files on a computer accessible to peer-to-peer file-sharing networks thoughshared directories is within the bounds of Canadian copyright law, von Finckenstein found.