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Apparently a Unanimous Loss for Grokster,

says SCOTUSblog -- not what I would have predicted. (I wasn't sure about the bottom line, but I expected at least some votes in favor of Grokster.)

TomH (mail):
Apparently, Sony-Betamax has been replaced with some sort of intent rule:

"Internet file-sharing services will be held responsible if they intend for their customers to use software primarily to swap songs and movies illegally, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, rejecting warnings that the lawsuits will stunt growth of cool tech gadgets such as the next iPod."

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8375955/
6.27.2005 11:58am
TomH (mail):
Opinions are now posted at SCOTUSblog.
6.27.2005 12:22pm
Dave Blau (mail):
Some scattered thoughts:


This ruling seems to shift the burden of copyright enforcement from courts to inventors, which is very inefficient in terms of allocation. I think software developers by and large are not experts on copyright law. In order to comply with this ruling, developers will have to educate themselves in copyright law, or hire an expert. Both of these options are expensive. This ruling creates disincentives for developers to solve data transfer problems on the Internet, with no corresponding creativity incentives elsewhere.

6.27.2005 12:32pm
TomH (mail):
Though I don't know for certain, I'm guessing that most P2P file sharing distributors already have some sort of copyright legal counsel. Grokster, for instance, had a very thorough knowledge of copyright law -- they seemed to have purposely designed their software in a way to get around indirect liability (by designing it to be completely decentralized, they had no ability to supervise their users, which got them out of vicarious liability at the trial and circuit court levels. The district court acknowledged this, but said their hands were tied.)

I did find it mildly amusing that Justice Souter was assigned to write the opinion. (Justice Souter still doesn't use a personal computer.)


I'm writing an article on this case for work, so I'm quite interested in hearing different takes.
6.27.2005 12:45pm
JF (mail):
Just scanned the decision quickly, but they seemed to have evaded their fundamental disagreements as to what Sony means by saying that what it doesn't mean is that you can advertise that you can use the software to steal. It appears under this decision that if Grokster and StreamCast had somehow just used word-of-mouth to get the word out the Court would have had to confront its susbstantially intractable differences on what "substantial non-infringing uses" really means. But they dodged it.
6.27.2005 1:30pm
J.B.F. (mail):
One key point is that the Sony ruling has not been replaced, matter of fact the court specifically declined to make any changes to their previous rulling. See http://wid.ap.org/scotus/pdf/04-480P.ZO.pdf page 17.

In my view what the Court has ruled is that if you design something that has both infringing and non-infringing and then sell this product by emphasizing the illegal uses you are libel.
6.27.2005 1:31pm
Steve:
The decision was 100% about intent, and the evidence sounds fairly compelling (although the trial is, of course, yet to be held).
6.27.2005 1:39pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Souter's opinion is very disturbing. He made use, for example, of that fact that "Grokster" sounds like "Napster," and of advertisements the companies _considered_ using but chose not to.

That last part is pretty outrageous. Some guy in marketing comes up with an idea, it gets shot down (perhaps by counsel), but its _still_ evidence that the idea was the company's goal?

This is the danger of having a justice with no experience as a practicing attorney.
6.27.2005 2:58pm