For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 20 August 2004

GROKSTER, STREAMCAST GET CLEAN LEGAL BILL OF HEALTH

This from the Register: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, San Francisco, has confirmed that P2P software such as that developed by Grokster and StreamCast is legal. Dismissing an appeal by the Recording Industries Association of America (the RIAA), the court added that The court then added that it would be unwise to alter copyright law in a way that could stifle innovation just to suit well-established players in a market, given the ways in which technology often changes the market for the better in the long run. As the court said:

"The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the Copyright Owners' immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context.

Further, as we have observed, we live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet innovation. The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well-established distribution mechanisms. Yet, history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine, or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude."

The court pointed to the 1984 Sony/Betamax decision in which the Supreme Court said that a video copying device had enough non-infringing uses to warrant its existence as a legal product. Similarly, P2P software can be used to send all types of files between users. P2P software can also help reduce distribution costs and provides a new mechanism for distributing music, photos and documents.

The IPKat believes this approach is the correct one. The recording industry has genuine concerns and we would all be the poorer without it, but all players in the market for recorded works are entitled to a fair and objective interpretation of existing law, a law which is predicated by achieving a balance of interests between the industry, composers and writers and of course the consumers themselves.

Is there life without copyright protection? Click here, here and here

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