MGM v. Grokster

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EternalParadox

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EternalParadox

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As some of you are aware, the Supreme Court released on its last day of the October term session its ruling on the case of MGM v. Grokster, the case involving the liability of creators of file sharing programs for the illegal activities of its usings.

The decision can be found here

The decision is rather lengthy, but to summarize, I quote the following from the ruling:

"For the same reasons that Sony took the staple-article doctrine of patent law as a model for its copyright safe-harbor rule, the inducement rule, too, is a sensible one for copyright. We adopt it here, holding 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 by third parties."

The Court decision ruled that Grokster and StreamCast (the creator of Morpheus) are liable for the copyright infringement of its users because they intentional promote their software as capable to satisfy the demand for illegally downloading copyrighted materal.

The Court also separated the Grokster case to the previous landmark Sony Betamax ruling of 1984, which found Sony NOT liable for the illegal reproduction of TV programs via the Betamax tapes. Ultimately, the Court establishes that one is liable if there is an intent for the program to be used for such illegal activities, an intent that Sony did not have but Grokster and Morpheus did.

I personally find that the Grokster ruling actually presents a long term victory for P2P. Grokster lays down a litigationally precise line to distinguish between legitimate innovation and intentional promotion of copyright infringement. In doing so, I believe that the decision actually presents future file sharing networks a clear road map for defining their method of self-promotion to avoid demonstrating an "intent" for aiding user to illegally download and to thus avoid the same suits that faces Grokster and Morpheus.

I am curious of the view point of my fellow MT members on this case. I have been following it rather closely and I would like to open a discussion on this issue. Any thoughts, opinions, facts, are welcomed.

EternalParadox
Previously the Forum, Vector Art, and Policy Moderator

  • Jul 02, 2005

animefreak3

animefreak3

Serpentarius

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I very much hope we can find a way past all of these personal interests (read: big business), and realize P2P as a new networking innovation. It's uses have not even been fully recognized yet.

As an example: Say you're running BitTorrent v3.4, and I'm running BitTorrent v4.0.2. How about not only software that sees there is a new version, but uses it's own P2P network to upgrade the core software automatically. Since everybody is running it anyway there will be no limitation of seeds. If your software checks and sees it's not current, you stop seeding your version release. Also if I'm running an "unofficial beta" version, I'm also not current, and not seeding my version release either. Should the day come that my "unofficial beta" become current, my client would start seeding it's self too. Since my "unofficial beta" has a greater version than current it would not be updated by seeders for current.

We begin and end in nothingness. Our darkness is confronting our ultimate nature, for nothing can come from nothing. We must sow the wind and reap the void, since the now is all we have. Together, we walk in darkness.

  • Jul 02, 2005

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