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Thread: Key US file-sharing ruling looms

  1. #1
    sArA's Avatar Ex-Moderatererer
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    BBC News Online, Monday, 27 June, 2005

    A decision in a key legal case that pits movie studios against the makers of
    file-sharing software is imminent.

    The US Supreme Court is deciding if the software firms can be blamed when
    their creations are used to break the law.

    The case was brought by 28 media makers who claim the main use of file-sharing
    networks is to help people illegally swap copyrighted material.

    Despite the expected judgement, some experts fear the decision may be delayed
    yet again.


    Copyright battle

    This legal battle began in October 2001 when movie and music makers first
    filed a legal complaint against Streamcast Networks - creators of the
    Grokster file-sharing system.

    The complaint alleged that Streamcast was effectively profiting from the
    rampant piracy on the network and sought substantial damages for this
    copyright infringement.

    The film makers and recording companies have pursued the case even though
    successive US courts have sided with Streamcast and said that it should not
    be held liable for what users do with its creation.

    In making these decisions, the judges have referred to the legal precedent
    created when Sony was sued over the Betamax video tape recorder in the late 1970s.

    In that ruling the Supreme Court decided that Sony could not be prosecuted
    because the video tape recorder had "substantial non-infringing uses".

    In effect the judges said if most users of a technology were law-abiding there
    was no reason to stop a device being used if some people broke the law with
    it.

    The movie studios and music makers have argued that this ruling does not apply
    because file-sharing systems only have "substantial infringing uses". In
    other words, most people use them to pirate copyrighted material.

    At issue is whether Streamcast can be held liable for this illegal use.


    Next steps

    What is clear is that the Supreme Court ruling will do little to dent the
    appetite of net users for file-sharing systems.

    Research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 57% of
    broadband users believe there is not much the US government can do to combat
    file-sharing.

    The survey also revealed that many people are swapping files on each others'
    portable music players or via e-mail and instant messaging systems.

    Technology experts fear that if the Supreme Court justices decide in favour of
    the movie and music makers it could stifle innovation as all new technologies
    will have to have potential infringing uses designed out.

    They worry that this could lead to even more controls on what people can do
    with the CDs, DVDs and music they have bought.


    Legal complexity


    Monday 27 June is the last day that the Supreme Court could issue a ruling as
    it is the final day of this judicial session.

    However, the court has the option of extending the session by one day or
    simply leaving the case to the next judicial session that follows its
    three-month summer recess.

    Others expect a decision that will see the case returned to a lower court with
    specific instructions from the Supreme Court justices on what remedy should
    be applied.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has been fighting the case alongside
    Streamcast, expects that the decision will have a knock-on effect on the US
    Congress which could lead to re-drafts of copyright law.

    Whatever happens the ruling is unlikely to stop movie and music makers
    pursuing people who pirate and swap copyrighted material. So far US movie and
    music industry associations have sued more than 12,000 people for piracy.
    Last edited by tesco; 06-27-2005 at 02:56 PM.

  2. News (Archive)   -   #2

  3. News (Archive)   -   #3
    sArA's Avatar Ex-Moderatererer
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    June 27, 2005 7:11 AM PDT
    Supreme Court rules against file-swapping

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of studios and record labels Monday in the closely watched case on file-swapping. In a unanimous decision, justices said that peer to peer software companies should be liable for the copyright infringement of people using their products.

    "We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement," wrote Justice David Souter in the majority opinion.



    Yep....Oh my, what a sad day.

  4. News (Archive)   -   #4
    From Slyck...

    With a solid victory in place for the MPAA and RIAA, the future of commercial P2P enterprise, at least in the United States, is in serious question. With StreamCast and Grokster both liable for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, the online community awaits the next round of lawsuits from the copyright industry juggernaut - a round of lawsuits that may annihilate StreamCast and Grokster.

  5. News (Archive)   -   #5
    Hanz™'s Avatar making the world go BT Rep: +3
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    Unsure

    It's not such bad news guys...

    This ruling states that:
    "One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright ... is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses,"

    I don't believe that any of the companies are actually promoting its use to infringe copyright. Morpheus has a legal disclaimer built into their client for example saying that if you donwload files illegally they dont support you.
    SCOTUS's finding of unlawful intent on the part of Grokster and Streamcast relies very heavily on their being marketed as replacements for Napster, which isn't exactly a method of determination with much application beyond this particular case.

    A PDF of the actual details is available here:
    http://www.eff.org/IP/P2P/MGM_v_Grokster/04-480.pdf

    Besides all this is gonna do is drive people further into the darknet that is emerging...

    BTW how can they shut down a decentralized network?
    I know they can stop distributing the installation files but other than that...

  6. News (Archive)   -   #6
    Hanz™'s Avatar making the world go BT Rep: +3
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    BTW If Grokster and Co. go down it would be nice if a website such as thepiratebay, would buy their website so we don't have the eyesore of looking at the MPAA page again...
    hehe

  7. News (Archive)   -   #7
    NikkiD's Avatar Yen?
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    Sooooo let me get this straight.... the company that makes the p2p software is legally responsible for the way people use their software....

    Let's take that one step further now, shall we?

    The company that makes the hardware is legally responsible for the way people use their hardware.

    Let the games begin.

  8. News (Archive)   -   #8
    I find it almost rather amusing to put this whole thing behind a view based on "the intention to encourage" since if they make it a blanket responsibility it would ensue mayhem across the board form mp3 players to cdrs to computers. I am still wondering how they intend to prove that intention amongst sotware writers that have even taken the time to place disclaimer within their software. I guess the only other thought is it is to based on some sort of scale of usage which still leaves the door open alot of bullshit to come if so...
    Last edited by RealitY; 06-27-2005 at 07:56 PM.

  9. News (Archive)   -   #9
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    You know...it's not hard to rip streaming music.

    And theres plenty of online radio stations out there

  10. News (Archive)   -   #10
    tesco's Avatar woowoo
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    Quote Originally Posted by NikkiD
    Sooooo let me get this straight.... the company that makes the p2p software is legally responsible for the way people use their software....

    Let's take that one step further now, shall we?

    The company that makes the hardware is legally responsible for the way people use their hardware.

    Let the games begin.
    The doctor that gives birth to a child is responsible for what they do.


    edit: not that the doctor gives birth, i mean help the mother give birth, i don't know the proper term for it.
    Last edited by tesco; 06-27-2005 at 09:20 PM.

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