9th Circuit Upholds Grokster


The pro-file-sharing decision (discussed in the feature interview with Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow in our Aug./Sept. issue) Grokster v. MGM gets upheld by the Ninth Circuit. From the Associated Press account:

Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, said the decision raises questions of whether ?digital music will be enjoyed in a fashion that supports the creative process or one that robs it of its future.?

The lower court ruling upheld Thursday had cited the U.S. Supreme Court?s 1984 decision in the Sony Betamax case. The court said then that Sony wasn?t liable when people used its Betamax videocassette recorder to copy movies illegally because the technology had significant uses that did not violate copyrights.

The studios and labels argued that while Sony could not control how consumers used their VCRs, Grokster and StreamCast could filter the copyright content from their systems, like they do with computer viruses, but refuse to do so, because the free songs and movies are what draw their users and ultimately generate ad profits. Streamcast and Grokster make money via advertising that pops up on users? screens.

[Judge Sidney R.] Thomas, the appeals court judge, said agreeing with the entertainment industry?s demands would be ?unwise? and ?would conflict with binding precedent.?

?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,? Thomas wrote. ?Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories.?

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  1. It always tickles me when Hollyweird gets its collective panties in a bunch over infringements on their right to make a buck. These are the same people who consistently denigrate economic rights as a matter of principle, with a variation of that theme showing up in every picture offered to the public (except of course, Pacific Heights).

  2. What I find even more amusing is the fact that every single technological advancement that Hollywood and the record industry have railed against at inception have ultimately become a substantial source of their profits.

    You’d think that at some point, they’d get a clue and actually embrace those advancements right off the bat, rather than having to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the money.

  3. Just goes to show once again how far apart the industry suits are from the artists and musicians who really pay for their corporate jets. Mankind has been banging drums and blowing reeds just for fun (and getting girls) long before there was a music industry. Nothing happening on Grokster or Kazaa will deprive music of its future.

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