[news=http://www.slyck.com/newspics/grokster.gif]The file-sharing world has lost yet another commercial P2P application. Grokster, the main defendant in the MGM vs. Grokster Supreme Court trial, has officially surrendered. In a statement on its homepage, the decision appears to be final – at far as free P2P is concerned.
Grokster was a spyware/adware ridden client that connected to the FastTrack P2P network. Its reputation for being an obtrusive and potentially computer-damaging application earned it vast disrespect from the file-sharing community.
Adding to its public relation woes, Grokster found itself at odds with MGM Studios. MGM Studios accused Grokster of facilitating the wholesale distribution of copyrighted music and movies. In a drawn out courtroom saga, two federal courts agreed that Grokster was not responsible for the actions of its users. However, on June 29th, the Supreme Court found that Grokster was responsible and could be sued by MGM Studios.
This decision, although specifically directed at Grokster, would lead to a domino effect for commercial P2P vendors. iMesh, WinMX, MetaMachine, LimeWire and BearShare were all forced to change in one manner or another. Today, Grokster announced it has ceased any and all operations related to its former self.
As part of a settlement agreement with the member companies of the RIAA and MPAA, three years of litigation have come to an end. In addition to other undisclosed aspects of the agreement, Grokster must "permanent injunction prohibiting infringement – directly or indirectly – of any of the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works. This includes ceasing immediately distribution of the Grokster client application and ceasing to operate the Grokster system and software."
The following message is all that remains on the Grokster.com homepage:
"The United States Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that using this service to trade copyrighted material is illegal. Copying copyrighted motion picture and music files using unauthorized peer-to-peer services is illegal and is prosecuted by copyright owners."
"There are legal services for downloading music and movies. This service is not one of them."
"Grokster hopes to have a safe and legal service available soon."
According to Grokster's homepage, a new "legal" service is currently under development. The project, called Grokster3G touts itself as a "safe, secure & legal P2P experience."
Keep in mind, this settlement only affects the future downloading of the Grokster client. It does not prevent current Grokster users from obtaining files from the FastTrack network in any way.
The interesting aspect of "legal" music and movie services is the attempt to convey their "safe" and "secure" characteristics. Yet the RIAA's and MPAA's actions on behalf of their member companies has served to eradicate many of the worst offending P2P applications, leaving considerably more "safe" and "secure" open source clients to fill the gaps. The file-sharing world is a better place with Grokster officially vanquished.