University-based Internet file-sharing network i2hub shuts down

Online file-sharing service i2hub, which linked university students and others over the super-fast Internet2 network, has shut down under threat of a lawsuit from the recording industry.

The entire network linking users of the i2hub file-swapping application was taken off-line Monday afternoon, founder Wayne Chang in Boston said Tuesday via e-mail.

Visitors to the i2hub Web site were greeted Tuesday by the message "Remember i2hub."

At i2hub's peak, hundreds of thousands of students from more than 500 universities were regularly using it, said Chang, 22, who created the software in 2003 as a freshman at the University of Massachusetts.

"I've never believed i2hub was illegal," Chang said. "A lot of people have met their significant others on there, have received or given homework help, etc. It was a real-time social network."

I2hub was one of seven firms behind file-sharing software who received cease-and-desist letters from the Recording Industry Association of America in September accusing them of enabling computer users to distribute copyright-protected music without permission online.

In the notices, the trade group representing the major recording companies warned recipients of legal consequences if they continued to operate.

In September, the firm behind the WinMX file-sharing software also apparently shuttered the service after receiving one of the RIAA letters.

The Internet2 network, which links universities researching the next-generation Internet, is used by several million students, researchers and professionals around the world but is generally inaccessible to the public.

The RIAA also has filed copyright infringement lawsuits against 635 individual computer users using i2hub at 39 college campuses this year.

A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year established that the entertainment industry can file piracy lawsuits against technology companies caught encouraging customers to steal music and movies over the Internet.

The court decision significantly weakened lawsuit protections for companies that had blamed illegal behavior on their customers rather than the technology that made such behavior possible, AP reported. V.A.