Altnet and its parent, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, have filed a civil suit against the RIAA and others, alleging the breach of "TrueNames" patents that are used to identify digital files.

Altnet and its parent, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, have filed a civil suit against the RIAA and others, alleging the breach of "TrueNames" patents that are used to identify digital files.

An additional plaintiff in the suit -- filed today (Sept. 8) in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California -- is Northbrook, Ill.-based Kinetech, owner of two patents. The suit names as defendants RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol, former CEO Hilary Rosen and president Cary Sherman, as well as Media Sentry Inc., Overpeer Inc. and its parent Loudeye, companies that "spoof" peer-to-peer networks with bogus or corrupted media files.

Kinetech's patents allow digital files to be uniquely identified via tags called "hash identifiers." Kinetech has legally licensed its patent for use on the Fasttrack Network, which incorporates popular applications like Kazaa and Grokster. Altnet licensed the patents in 2002 and has since developed business partnerships with Kazaa and other P2P companies.

The RIAA has reportedly used spoofing in its efforts to fight P2P networks that enable the sharing of unauthorized music files. The suit claims that the trade group's actions violated Kinetech's patents.

"Overpeer and Media Sentry have hacked a popular protocol used in popular P2P desktop applications and used this version to conduct their spoofing activities," says Lawrence Hadley, partner at Los Angeles-based law firm of Hennigan, Bennett and Dorman, representing the plaintiffs.

According to Hadley, the RIAA passed on the opportunity to license Kinetech's patent, electing to instead work with Overpeer and Media Sentry in order to undermine user experience on file sharing networks.

Altnet alleges this has inhibited the growth of P2P for legitimate file sharing that benefits copyright holders and thereby has injured its business.

In an e-mail, Overpeer CEO Marc Morganstern states, "We vigorously deny these claims and find them to be completely baseless and without merit."

RIAA representatives could not be reached for comment by deadline.