Tuesday, June 28, 2005

US Supreme Court rules against file-sharing

In a decision that surprised many commentators, the US Supreme Court has ruled that the firms behind file-sharing networks are responsible for what people do on these systems, reports BBC News.
The US Supreme Court has said that Streamcast Networks - which created the software behind Grokster and Morpheus file-sharing systems - can be held responsible for the rampant piracy on those networks.

Streamcast had argued that it could not be held responsible for the uses its software was put to, but the Supreme Court justices did not agree. They said there was "substantial evidence" that Streamcast had profited by promoting copyright infringement or piracy.

The Supreme Court has not outlawed legitimate file-sharing. It has simply called Streamcast to account for encouraging the infringement of copyright.

The case will now be sent back to a lower court where the media firms that filed the original complaint are expected to press for substantial damages.
While most focus has been on illegal sharing of music, it is a rapidly increasing problem for TV drama and films. It remains to be seen what the ramifications of the US Supreme Court ruling are, but it looks like a strong below in defence of copyright holders (including, obviously, writers).

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