- Court: File-Sharing Services May Be Sued
Hollywood Can Sue Over Movie, Music Piracy
"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties,"Justice David H. Souter in MGM vs. Grokster
This is a stunning defeat for P2P.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Internet file-sharing services such as P2P networks can be held legally responsible if the use of their service promotes illegal sharing of software, music, and movies, rejecting warnings that the lawsuits will stunt growth of cool tech gadgets such as the next iPod.
The unanimous decision remands the case to the lower court [so, it's NOT OVER yet], which had ruled in favor of P2P services Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc. on the grounds that the companies couldn't be sued. The Supreme Court has found that there may be enough evidence of unlawful intent for the case to go to trial.
- Read the complete decision (PDF)
- EFF Press Release | EFF Press Conference audio
Today the Supreme Court issued a ruling that could impede makers of all kinds of technologies with expensive lawsuits. The long-awaited decision in MGM v. Grokster states that P2P software manufacturers can be held liable for the infringing activities of people who use their software. This decision relies on a new theory of copyright liability that measures whether manufacturers created their wares with the "intent" of inducing consumers to infringe. It means that inventors and entrepreneurs will not only bear the costs of bringing new products to market, but also the costs of lawsuits if consumers start using their products for illegal purposes.
"Today the Supreme Court has unleashed a new era of legal uncertainty on America's innovators," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF's senior intellectual property attorney. "The newly announced inducement theory of copyright liability will fuel a new generation of entertainment industry lawsuits against technology companies. Perhaps more important, the threat of legal costs may lead technology companies to modify their products to please Hollywood instead of consumers."
Opinions from the other side:
- RIAA statement
- Ex-CEO of the RIAA, Hilary Rosen
- Notes on RIAA and MPAA conference
- Musicians and songwriters
- Supreme Torturer, i mean Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court has considered this important case and determined that those who intentionally induce or encourage the theft of copyrighted music, movies, software or other protected works may be held liable for their actions."
- Sony BMG Executive Andrew Lack:
"We will no longer have to compete with thieves in the night whose businesses are built on larceny."
- Previous coverage on this site
- EFF | Grokster reader's guide | Statement from Public Knowledge | Statement of the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and Free Press
- Public Knowledge
- Wall Street Journal Roundtable
("Whether a reasonable balance has been struck here or not is in the hands of future judges to decide, when faced with a test of such a new technology or layer of technologies -- maybe BitTorrent, maybe RSS, maybe something as yet unknown." -John Palfrey)
(A bright spot in footnote 12 from the Supreme Court: "in the absence of other evidence of intent, a court would be unable to find contributory infringement merely based on a failure to take affirmative steps to prevent infringement....")
- Copyfight | What happened | Notes on the EFF Press Conference | The inducement test?
("Purposeful culpable expression and conduct" - Souter)
- Scotus Blog | Scotus Blog discussion | A new challenge to file-sharing companies
- Randy Picker's MobBlog
- Tech Law Advisor
- Freedom to Tinker
- New York Times
- CNet News | The players | Winners and losers
- NPR | NPR with Xeni Jardin (Windows audio)
- CNN Money
- The Economist
- USA Today
(Who humorously state: "We'll have more punditry on this later, as soon as we're done hiding the evidence that we've totally Limewired, like, everything with a 7 or higher on Pitchfork...")
- Read the complete decision (PDF)
- 10 Commandments OK on the state capitol grounds but not in courthouses???
I'd like to see the arguments for this ruling.
- Supreme Court Will Not Hear Miller/Cooper Case