Supreme Ct. Rules that Sellers of File Sharing Software At Risk

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by law guy, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. law guy macrumors 6502a

    law guy

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    #1
    http://money.cnn.com/2005/06/27/technology/grokster/index.htm

    Link to story on U.S. Sup. Ct's holding today that sellers of file sharing software can be held liable for copyright infringement.

    Haven't read anything more than the press clip, but the quote from the decision makes it appear that some sort of intent that the software be used to infringe copyrights needs to be shown.

    EDIT: Link to CNET news story: http://news.com.com/Supreme+Court+rules+against+file+swapping/2100-1030_3-5764135.html?tag=nl

    The decision focused clearly on the issue of whether Grokster and StreamCast Networks had entered the file-swapping business knowing that copyright infringement would be a major component of activity on their networks. The companies had taken no steps to mitigate the piracy, the justices noted.

    "There is no evidence that either company (Grokster or Streamcast) made an effort to filter copyrighted material from users' downloads or otherwise impede the sharing of copyrighted files," Souter wrote. "Each company showed itself to be aiming to satisfy a known source of demand for copyright infringement, the market comprising former Napster users."

    Souter wrote that the lower courts had misinterpreted the 1984 Sony ruling as saying that any non-infringing use, no matter how minimal, was enough to relieve a company of liability for copyright infringement.

    Instead, Souter pointed to a history of decisions that focused on "inducement" of infringement. If active steps are taken to "encourage" copyright infringement, he wrote, then a company can still be held liable under the framework of the Betamax decision."

    CNET history of file swapping story: http://news.com.com/The+evolution+of+file+swapping/2100-1030_3-5752075.html
     
  2. CubaTBird macrumors 68020

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    #2
    so looks like its over........... no more sharing... all those services go down the tubes eh?
     
  3. SiliconAddict macrumors 603

    SiliconAddict

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    #3

    Yah right. You actually think this is going to stop anything? If anything its going to drive people to get encrypted decentralized P2P up and running even faster. RIAA and MPAA can't sue who they can't find. Suckers. :D
     
  4. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #4
    Direct contradiction of previous rulings are the norm. In it's history, the Supreme Court first upheld segregation (Seperate but Equal) and then struck it down (Brown vs. Board of Ed). The lawyers for the Brown side of the case didn't argue on the basis of the constitution or whether or not the Equal side of Seperate but Equal was being fulfilled (which it wasn't), but on the basis of the inethicality of segregation.
     
  5. CubaTBird macrumors 68020

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    #5
    yeah i see what you guys are saying.. but like with this ruling.. like would these programs (limewire, kazaa, acquisition even) be forced to be taken down from the web? like 6 mos from now you go to limewire.com and theres nothing there, site taken down.. does this verdict basically give the riaa and mpa the right to do that? that's what im getting from the article...
     
  6. CubaTBird macrumors 68020

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    #6
    and another thing..... this case was kicked down to the lower courts.. so are their more decisions to be made? or is this really the FINAL draw? :confused:
     
  7. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #7
    Old legal maxim. The problem here is that Grokster was patently setting out to work around the law, and as an unsympathetic defendent they were the RIAA's ideal target in their attempt to overturn Betamax.

    I'm waiting to see the decision, but from the sound of it the Court did about as well as I could hope: rather than address the technology point, they addressed the business model. For now, it seems, Bram Cohen is safe.
     
  8. law guy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    law guy

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    #8
    Link to decision.

    The ordering paragraph states:

    "The judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion." [Full opinion here: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=04-480]

    The remand directs that the 9th Circuit set aside its findings and re-evaluate how the law (as stated today) was applied to the record (facts). The 9th circuit could look at the record and say, with this precedent we should have decided the case differently, find that the law (as stated today) was properly applied to the facts, or remand to the lower fact-finding court if the record does not allow the appellate court to make a determination b/c it finds the record is not complete.

    A lower court may not hold in a manner that is contrary to the guidelines set out by the Sup. Ct. today.

    What that means - just skimming the opinion, it appears that there are facts in evidence that the file-swapping parties knew that their software was going to be used to infringe copyright / once they knew it, took no stops to remedy the problem. It appears from that, there is factual evidence that would allow the 9th circuit to apply today's decision to the record and reverse their earlier decision.
     
  9. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #9
    How far could this type of court reasoning go against other types of site operators or software authors? When can they be held responsible for what users do on their site or with their software? The pertinent question is how you define the distinction between culpable sites and legal sites. Basing it on the intent of the site creator sounds like a can of worms.
     
  10. amac4me macrumors 65816

    amac4me

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    #10
    A positive for Apple?

    Overall, I think this is good news for Apple and the iTunes Music Store. People will be a bit more reluctant to share music online ... thus more may decide to get their music via legal channels. More people will likely use iTunes and this may expose more people to Apple's products. Who knows ... this may end up benefiting Mac sales and bring more people over to the platform.
     
  11. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #11
    From the first paragraph of the ruling:

    The question is under what circumstances the distributor of a product capable of both lawful and unlawful use is liable for acts of copyright infringement by third parties using the product. 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 by third parties.

    This won't be a problem for BitTorrent.
     
  12. gwangung macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Correct, it won't.

    I wish people would READ the decision, instead of going ballistic and instantly go worst case scenario. It's pretty clear that when you advertise that your product is good for infringing on copyright, you're pretty clearly inducing people to break the law.

    Use some common sense people.
     
  13. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #13
    The wording of the ruling seems to say that liability results from

    (a) intent to promote use for violation of copyright (i.e., a determination based on what you say about use of your produce or service).

    That's an interesting distinction from these three variations:

    (b) intent for use in violation of copyright (based on the purpose you had in mind when creating the service/software, separate from how you promote its use afterwards)

    (c) promoting use for violation of copyright (whether or not you intended to promote it that way)

    (d) intent to promote violation of copyright (in general, not necessarily promoting your specific product or service)

    Case (d) is obviously too broad, but either of the others could have been the criteria. The differences may be minor, but could matter when you have to judge a particular case. Clearly, it's easier to judge based on visible actions than on intent alone, so the ruling uses two concrete tests as evidence of intent:

    (1) clearly expressing such intent

    (2) affirmative steps taken to foster infringement

    What did Grokster actually say in its promotions?
     
  14. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #14
    This was going to happen sooner or later. It would take more than just ingenuity to think that eventually a ruling might show up saying that it's "ok", or that they'd turn a blind eye to it forever.

    In my opinion, this ruling might even be beneficial to stir up discussion about how the world of file-sharing will be addressed in the future. It's equally silly to think that they can just keep banning things forever and a well-defined separation line might give a boost to formalizing the legality of certain file-types and encouraging the widespread acknowledgement and proliferation of systems such as GPL.
     

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