CBS and CNET have made their argument in court over the legality of distributing BitTorrent clients like uTorrent, as the court considers a preliminary injunction to prevent CBS and CNET owned Download.com from distributing these types of software.
CNET, and their parent company CBS/Viacom's, response comes after a coalition of artists led by Alki David launched legal action against Download.com for its distribution of LimeWire, which the plaintiffs say amount to inducement of copyright infringement. LimeWire was ordered to shutdown in a landmark decision in 2011. The issue of generic BitTorrent clients was raised back in November when Alki and co. asked the court to ban the distribution of all BitTorrent clients as part of their lawsuit.
This week, CNET responded to the request by arguing that BitTorrent clients have significant non-infringing uses. "BitTorrent is not limited to any particular file type This gives it many significant non-infringing uses—above and beyond the artists who have chosen to release works for free distribution," CNET wrote in their motion, "Among the many non-profit organizations that use BitTorrent for the distribution of educational content, the TED Conferences make their talks available using BitTorrent, enabling distribution around the world at a low cost and to audiences where censorship restrictions might otherwise hinder dissemination."
CNET also used expert testimony to argue its case for keeping BitTorrent clients legal. Glenn Reinman, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California Los Angeles was one of the experts. Reinman re-iterated the legal aspect of BitTorrent by listing prominent legal uses for BitTorrent file sharing, including in the field of research.
Reinman also highlighted the importance of BitTorrent and other distributed sharing networks that allow for the bypassing of censorship in repressive regimes. "Where information is hosted on a single Web site or server it can be effectively blocked by governments," Reinman wrote.
CNET also pointed out that they merely link to the official websites of BitTorrent clients, as opposed to directly hosting and linking to the software.