Supreme Court Rules Against File Sharing Networks

    June 28, 2005
    Chris Crum

The entertainment industry won a victory from the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of MGM vs. Grokster, which led to a ruling holding file sharing networks responsible for illegally shared songs or movies.

The Supreme Court’s ruling came in the form of a unanimous 9-0 vote. Executives of the entertainment industry consider this a victory and believe that the ruling is a new weapon in its war against piracy.

File Sharing Networks Ruled Against

“We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties,” wrote Justice David Souter. PC Pro reports:

At issue was whether the landmark case of Sony vs Universal Studios could be extended to companies marketing and facilitating file sharing. In the Sony case, which concerned whether VCRs were tools to infringe copyright, it was held by the Court to have ‘other uses’ such as recording programmes to view later. Therefore it was decided that while the device could be used to avoid copyright, it has ‘other uses’ which outweighed the illegal ones.

The lower courts took the view that the blanket immunity extended to p2p. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying that ‘Nothing in Sony requires courts to ignore evidence of intent to promote infringement if such evidence exists.’

Judges ruled in favor of Grokster in two lower courts without even holding a trial. Their rulings were based on the outcome of the Sony Vs. Universal Case, which occurred in 1984.

“The most striking feature is that it was 9-0,” said Recording Industry Association of America president and CEO Mitch Bainwol. “This is a court that can’t agree on what to have for lunch, but they agreed that copyrighted works are worthy of protection.”

Chris is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.