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.?