The New York Times reports that the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case concerning the liability of the providers of peer-to-peer file-sharing software for copyright infringement. In Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer v Grokster, the court will put an end to uncertainty about liability for facilitating unauthorised film and music downloads. Although Napster was found to have infringed, Grokster was not since its technology worked in a way that didn’t allow it to control what was being exchanged over its network. The case will be heard in March 2005 and a decision is expected by some time in June of that year. Inevitable comparisons are being made with the 1984 Sony v Betamax case, which decided that the manufacturers of video recorders were not liable for copyright infringement. Because their machinery could be used in a way that did not infringe copyright.

The IPKat isn’t sure that they comparison with Sony v Betamax is a good one since the primary source of material for be “downloaded” there was from the television, which could be legitimately watched by the same viewers who videoed the programmes. However, those who benefit from P2P sourced music usually haven’t been in contact with a legitimate method of obtaining it. Merpel points out that whichever way the court is decided, the downloaders themselves will be infringing.

Both sides of the story here and here.
Another musical court case here
SUPREME COURT TO HEAR P2P CASE SUPREME COURT TO HEAR P2P CASE Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, December 13, 2004 Rating: 5


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