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Morpheus throws in the towel

Morpheus p2p file-sharing software StreamCast goes bankrupt StreamCast Networks, the company behind the Morpheus file-sharing software, filed for protection Wednesday under Chapter 7 of federal bankruptcy law. Now, perhaps, the when-will-it-ever-end legal battle known as MGM v Grokster will finally come to an end, more than six years after the major record companies and movie studios sought the federal courts' help against StreamCast, Kazaa and Grokster. At the time, those companies were the three heirs apparent to the original Napster. In fact, StreamCast -- backed by Timberline Venture Partners, a venture capital firm tied to legendary VC Tim Draper -- had begun life (under the name MusicCity Networks) piggybacking onto Napster's protocol and client software. It eventually switched to the FastTrack network it shared with Kazaa and Grokster, only to be booted unceremoniously from that network and forced onto Gnutella. Its bankruptcy doesn't come as a shock (except, perhaps, to the employees who were laid off as of April 22), yet it leaves a few intriguing legal questions unanswered.

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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