US Supreme Court ruling today-Grokster(file sharing) loses

This is from the NY Times

You probably need a registration to read it, but Google the words and read it for free somewhere.

I can’t believe no one has posted this yet.

I’m all for this. My stupid 18 year old thinks I’m nuts. Of course, he loves free music.

Make your living off of someone else’s back, prepare to pay the consequences.

This ain’t about free speech. It’s about stealing.

It isn’t that simple. The SCOTUS just ruled that summary judgment doesn’t apply here. It goes back down to the lower courts and MGM has to prove that Grokster “distributed [their] device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, going beyond mere distribution with knowledge of third-party action” before they are found liable.

Basically the recording industry have to prove that these programs meant to promote or foster illegal downloading, made clear by their actions, and not just that they knew it was going on.

It’s not a total win for the recording industry, just a minor win, that they can go to trial on this and not just lose on summary judgment.

Really. 99 cents is not too much to pay for a song. I know, because I used Napster back when it was illegal. After they got shut down I never went looking for any of the other services. When Napster came back in a legal form, I signed up for their ‘premium’ service, and enjoyed it for a few months, but eventually I realized that it would be cheaper to just buy the songs I really wanted for a buck a song. I’ve burned four CDs with Napster songs.

This is all true.

The problem for companies like Grokster, though, is whether they are willing to fight the deep pockets of the recording industry in the lawsuits that will follow this decision.

Personally, while i’ve read the complete decision (pdf), and think that the justices made some compelling arguments, i’m still rather worried at the way that these companies are being held responsible for what individual users do with their software.

It also seems to me that, despite the protestations in Souter’s opinion that this decision does not overturn the principles of the Sony (Betamax) case, it does seem to provide a potential opening for challenging a whole raft of media copying technologies based on their ability to be used to violate copyright.

Also, despite the fact that the recording companies haven’t actually won a lawsuit against Grokster yet, there is one sense in which this decision is a massive victory for them. Before, when they were unable to sue the makers of file-sharing software, the recording companies had to be content with suing individuals. Now they can avoid that quagmire by suing the companies directly.

Plenty of Americans, like the OP, are opposed to file-sharing in pronciple, but still don’t like the idea that they could be sued for the downloading habits of their errant teenagers. Quite a few people got very angry when they were sued by the recording industry, and as long as defending copyright relied on suing middle-class American families, the music and movie corporations were always going to be fighting a losing PR battle. Now that they can bypass the individual users and sue the software companies directly, the entertainment companies have the upper hand. Middle America can now nod and scratch their chins disapprovingly about the evils of file-sharing, without worrying about whether they will be sued for their kids’ P2P activities.

It’s not that big a deal, and it has nothing to do with P2P technology as a whole. It was decided on the basis of common law, not the Betamax case.

In short, despite the crowbar being used as a valuable piece of construction equipment, if you advertise yours as being for sale to break into homes with, you might just have some legal liability for robberies committed with one.

You sell it as construction equipment and someone uses it to break in, you’re safe.

Bittorrent, as an example, is entirely unaffected by this, as it was designed to make things like movie trailers and large distributions of files easier to download. It’s even used in games like World of Warcraft to distribute patches, these days.

The fact that people use it to trade music files is not relevant.

I felt like putting the hyperlink in some sort of “clever” form, such as "Stopping bugging me about this issues!, but instead I will put down a plain link.

Login: sukmeballz

password: mmmballz

Yes, those are real passwords to log in. Also, here is the txt on the ruling. I can, but will not right now, find out how the hell the judges figure the fact that creator-made music is available on such services is not relevant.

I thought we weren’t allowed to discuss file sharing on this site.

It’s not stealing, it’s copyright infringement. Speeding is not public drunkeness, manslaughter is not jaywalking, wire fraud is not extortion, and copyright infringment is not stealing. All are against the law, and all have specific penalties associated with them. Victims of theft find remedy in criminal court. Victims of copyright infringement find remedy in civil court. Please stop using inaccurate language that promotes ignorance.

Ah, Sam. Ready to punish any number of innocent file sharers so long as you punish the guilty along with them. Good show.

Considering the artist makes only 5¢ per CD published by the record companies, the irony is delicious.

I was gonna say.

It’s funny the record companies like to parade the artists while saying “But you’re stealing! And you’re stealing from them! How are they going to make a living?” All the while paying those same artists a pittance of what is actually charged for music.

I’m not up for downloading music - when and if I start, I’ll use one of the pay sites - but the record companies’ logic kills me.

Here’s my understanding: We are not allowed to discuss methods and practices. We are allowed to discuss moral, legal, and ethical considerations, provided that we don’t go into details as to how to do so.

I had trouble with mhendo’s link, so here is the non-akamaiized link (pdf)

I have not yet read the entire decision, but I have read the syllabus, and I am concerned. Clearly, Grokster got what was coming to them. Advertising their product as “Free Music Downloads” is blatantly advertising the illegal uses of their product.

However, I think that this decision is unlikely to change anything in the fight between the **AAs and the p2p developers. The next heads of hte p2p hydra will simply emphasize all the and Creative Commons content that can be traded without limiting any other uses. The really bold ones will actually include little winking smilies somewhere in their ads. But this decision will open the doors for further abuses by content production corporations.

Remember iTunes’ ad campaign with the slogan “Rip. Mix. Burn”? Under Grokster, as I read it, this is inciting to infringe copyright, and Apple would be liable for every copy made with iTunes. And if Apple continues to make inroads into music distribution, I’d bet that the RIAA might decide to make their own jukebox software and sue Apple.

No, they are still going to have to go after the individuals sharing material, because many of the networks out there are not associated with software companies. The network is openly defined, and the clients are made by anonymous individuals. There is no company to sue. So the only recourse is to continue suing the individual users sharing copyrighted material.

According to its developer, i believe that Bittorrent main purpose, originally, was to facilitate the sharing of Linux distros and the like.

Anyway, i hope you’re right that this decision has no implications for services like Bittorrent. I agree with iamthewalrus(:3= that Grokster (and Streamcast, for that matter) acted stupidly in promoting their poroduct, and that more tactful, savvy companies may not run into the same problems.

Still, the Supreme Court’s finding of intent relied not just on the software companies’ marketing, but also on the fact that these software producers did not include in their products filtering software that would filter out copyrighted material. Theoretically, this criterion could also apply to many other types of networking technology.

Also, their decision was partly based on the fact that neither company charged end users for their software, but rather sold advertising to third parties, which was then displayed via the P2P network. From the decision:

I think it’s a little worrying when part of the evidence against these companies is that they use a business model that relies on providing a free service and paying for it with advertising.

I’m not overly worried about the decision. I do think that the two companies in question shot themselves in the foot, and that the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of these two companies was a reasonable (although debatable) one. But i don’t see the battle stopping here, and i do worry about some of the possible next steps.

I’m sure that they will in the long term, especially if they can’t get similar court decisions against other producers of file-sharing technology. But, in the short term at least, i think they’ll focus on places where they can get the most bang for their buck, which is in attempting to shut down the companies like Grokster and Streamcast.

And i do think that the recording industry was and is sensitive to the bad PR that results from suing mom and dad and the teenage downloaders. It was quite clear during the first spate of lawsuits that there were doing their damndest to push the suits forward while downplaying the fact that they were going after middle America.

Hell, some members of Congress got on the bandwagon and proposed legislation to shift the burden of responsibilty in the file sharing case from end users to software manufacturers. We had a thread on that issue a while back, where i quoted some of the speech made by Orrin Hatch in support of Senate Bill S. 2560, the “Induce Act”:

As i said in that thread “Won’t somebody think of the children.”

I’m not actually sure of the fate of the Induce Act. Now that the Supreme Court has made this ruling, Hatch and co. might be satisfied.

Oh, when tape recorders as a home consumer item came out, record companies said, “They’re stealing our stuff! They’ll ruin us! You can’t let people buy these things! It’s blatantly illegal!”

Never happened. Just opened up a whole new venue for record companies to profit from.

When VCRs as a home consumer item came out, record companies said, “They’re stealing our stuff! They’ll ruin us! You can’t let people buy these things! It’s blatantly illegal!”

Never happened. Just opened up a whole new venue for record companies to profit from.

Now file to tile sharing is a home consumer item and record companies are saying, “They’re stealing our stuff! They’ll ruin us! You can’t let people buy these things! It’s blatantly illegal!”

Gee, I wonder what will happen now?

Has anybody tried to defend copyright infringement with a free speech argument?

I have just been whoosed. Could you eloborate, please?

Well, to be fair, there is something qualitatively and quantitatively different about file sharing over the internet. While technology like the tape recorder and the VCR generally only allowed one copy to be made at a time, and also involved a reduction in quality when copies of copies of copies were made, this is not the case with computer files. Each copy is exactly the same quality as the original, and the ability to copy and distribute them has been dramatically increased by computer networks that allow people to do this without ever leaving their house.


Yes, you. That is what it generally means when people don’t quote, in my experence. Could you please elaborate on what you meant by that last remark?

My post seems too self-explanatory to require elaboration. I was asking mhendo if anybody had actually tried to defend copyright infringement with a free speech argument. Don’t know how to explain it any further than that.

Is the snark because you heard these arguments a lot? Just because you have, doesn’t mean everybody has.