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Supreme Court Rules against Grokster

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the toll-the-bells dept.

The Courts 1249

furry_wookie writes "A few minutes ago, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unaniumously against Grokster today. This ruling means that developers of software violate federal copyright law when they provide computer users with the means to share music and movie files downloaded from the Internet. More info about the case here." That's not an entirely accurate statement -- what The Supremes said is that "One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright ... is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses." The promotion is the key part of that statement. Update: 06/27 18:00 GMT by T : Reader SilentBob4 points out this interview with EFF attorney Wendy Seltzer on the decision.

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FP (1)

Gundampilotspaz (651286) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920446)

First Post

What was interesting (4, Interesting)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920450)

is that it wasn't even close. It was an unanimous ruling.

Re:What was interesting (5, Insightful)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920567)

It was unanimous, but not in the "any P2P software is illegal" sense, but in the "if you push your p2p software as a means for infringing copyright, you're just as guilty"

From a legal perspective, that makes sense. Bittorrent has always been about just "large file distribution" and was initially pushed as an alternative for downloading movie trailers, large Linux distributions, etc. It's gotten a fair amount of traction among a great deal of media sites as a fantastic way for distributing their work. It just so happens that it can be used for illegal purposes, like other technology.

That's a far cry from some p2p software's claims of "Find any song, any movie, any show, in seconds!" Bittorrent was introduced as a means for downloading big files. Plenty of other p2p software was introduced almost explicitly for downloading copyrighted material, and advertised as such.

So while the ruling initially sounds like a blow to p2p software, the wording shows that it's simply a blow to software made and distributed expressly for infringing copyrights. I can understand how "if you're encouraging copyright infringement with your software you're just as guilty" can lead to unanimous agreement.

Re:What was interesting (4, Insightful)

Mr. Maestro (876173) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920593)

Even more thought provoking is this...

"One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright ... is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses."

I hate to extend things, however, couldn't a similar extention be applied to almost anything? Let's try firearms...

How does this sound.....

"One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to DO BODILY HARM ... is liable for the resulting acts of BODILY HARM by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses."

You could replace almost ANYTHING. I think they have set a VERY POOR precedent. All IMHO of course...
MM

Unanimous Disaster (2, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920613)

This ruling is disastrous. Now the burden of proof will be upon "device" and software makers to establish that they are not promoting copyright infringement.

The abuse that will arise from this precedent will force Congress to pass laws to clarify copyright infringement, and I fear that they will be unduly influenced by corporate interests such as RIAA and MPAA, so the new laws will only reinforce draconian interpretations such as the one the Supreme Court has just made.

When will this madness cease?

I'm Sad... (0, Redundant)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920451)



The Supremes used to make sense.

First the stuuuuupid Imminent Domain ruling, now this.

Re:I'm Sad... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920486)

Irony: noun.
1. Calling the Supreme Court stupid in the same sentence in which you use "Imminent" when you mean "Eminent."

Re:I'm Sad... (2, Informative)

no haters (714135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920493)

I agree the that the Eminent Domain ruling was stuuuuupid, but this ruling makes sense. People can still develop products to be used legally. If they happen to be used illegally, so what? As long as they don't promote it as such, they're good to go, as was clarified by the editor. Read before you post.

Re:I'm Sad... (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920548)

The Supremes used to make sense.

I'd recommend you wait to read the ruling before pronouncing that it does not make sense. The question is legal in nature, and is not about whether P2P is legal -- read the updated header above!. After we RTFR we'll know what really happened.

Re:I'm Sad... (5, Funny)

The Jon (605125) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920589)

"The Supremes used to make sense."

I agree, "Baby Love" was a great song.

What happened to...from the a-hard-battle-to-fight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920452)

ihatewinXP writes "FastCompany.com has a behind the scenes article detailing [fastcompany.com] Rio's (and others) attempts to differentiate hardware and compete in the digital music market against the iPod juggernaught. From the article: "We decided that we had to be radically different from Apple. Where Apple was sort of the ivory tower, we were going to be the dark rebel. Where Apple was very geometric, we were going to be smooth and curvy. Apple was so enamored with absolute pure, minimalist design that some designers may argue that ergonomics were compromised."

site slow - text only version here (2, Informative)

airbie (767806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920453)

the site's already slow with images, here's the link to the text version: http://pf.fastcompany.com/magazine/95/fast-talk-ex tra.html [fastcompany.com]

Re:site slow - text only version here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920511)

WTF just happened? This article was about mp3 players and then the article changed to the supreme court decision. This post wasn't off-topic 5 minutes ago, but now it is. Mods, please be kind to this dude. It's not his fault. It's the software or the editors.

Looks like.. (1)

TrollingOnTheRiver (865867) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920455)

We'll be seeing a lot more p2p devs being vauge about purpose, or suggesting legitimate purpose.

Re:Looks like.. (1)

daniil (775990) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920565)

What, like all the DC++ hubs with 5000 online users stating "this site is for friends and family only" or "This hub is provided as a public service for the purpose of chat and 'legal' file exchange"?

Why go and ruin some rhetoric? (2, Funny)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920457)

Come on Hemos - we could have debated for hours about how the web itself is now banned by SCOTUS.

Well, that's just (-1, Redundant)

cK-Gunslinger (443452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920460)

great. :\

If you don't promote it that way, then what? (5, Insightful)

sirenbrian (681407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920461)

So if you write a p2p app and declare it to be content-neutral (i.e "I don't care what you use it for") is that "promoting infringing uses"? What if you put a lot of ads in it saying "Sharing copyrighted material is very, Very Naughty. Please don't do it." Would that get you off the hook?

Re:If you don't promote it that way, then what? (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920538)

It's not about declarations. It's about intentions. If you act in a way actively against sharing copyright material, you should be okay. It's hard to believe that anyone would be so naive as to expect people to only use something like Grokster for legitimate purposes.

Re:If you don't promote it that way, then what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920540)

What if you knew it was happening but didn't do anything? This is willful blindness, so I don't think you'd be able to get away with it.

Unfortuantly, the only way to know is to be sued (4, Interesting)

H3lldr0p (40304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920558)

And let it get processed by the courts. That seems to be the theme this year with the Justices, not giving any solid guidelines to help out, but allowing the courts to be used time and again for sorting this sort of thing out. Far be it from me to tell these people how to do their jobs, but it does seem reasonable to expect them to let the rest of us know how to make a legal judgement in this sort of thing.

Re:If you don't promote it that way, then what? (1)

AEton (654737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920570)

Sure, you can make as many "we do not condone infringement" banner ads as you like. But you're still an evil pirate, and you're just trying to hide it, arr!

On the other hand, a tiny slip of paper with a font-size-9 "Please don't steal music" would probably do the trick for anything that the President has [cnn.com] .

Thus Proving the Incompetence... (3, Interesting)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920464)

How can they directly contradict a previous ruling? How is it possible that the constitution says one thing one day and another another day... Reform time? The supreme court is becoming more and more pointless every day IMHO....

Re:Thus Proving the Incompetence... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920533)

The Supreme Court shouldn't directly contradict itself? Then we'd better get rid of that pesky Brown v. Board of Education and go back to Plessy v. Ferguson then!

Times change, people change, laws should change with them.

Re:Thus Proving the Incompetence... (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920598)

times change? that was like 2 years ago.... how is it suddenly illegal now and wasn't before?

Re:Thus Proving the Incompetence... (5, Insightful)

anonicon (215837) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920546)

"The supreme court is becoming more and more pointless every day IMHO"

That might be true if you didn't take a moment to realize that our legislatures are more interested in corporate giveaways and popularity contests, and the American public is so apathetic, it's basically abdicated its responsibility as citizens to instead become consumers and ratings numbers.

In that light, I think the courts are forced to be the adults around here, whether they want to be or not.

corporate dogs (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920465)

After they started allowing cities to give away private property to corporate overlords, I don't think anybody should be surprised by this decision.

Re:corporate dogs (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920577)

they didn't vote that they were allowing states to re-acquire land.
they voted that it wasn't their job to make that decision. instead that decision is the state's responsibility.
got beef with that? take it up with your state/congresspeople.

Sue Bill Gates!! (3, Funny)

KiroDude (853510) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920466)

He's the first to blame for creating windows and making it possible to run programs on it that will allow for file swapping!

Great (5, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920469)

Except Grokster is open source. So let's say I'm using Grokster for some legal purpose, and I repackage and sell it as is legal under the GPL, and promote it myself promoting its legal purposes only. So, because OTHER PEOPLE promoted Grokster for illegal purposes, does that mean I can't distribute Grokster either? Or do they get nailed for promoting Grokster for illegal purposes and I get to keep doing my thing?

Re:Great (4, Funny)

RevengeOfPoopJuggler (872968) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920531)

I wouldn't count on the Supreme Court even understanding what you just said, let alone give you a favorable ruling...

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920535)

Yes, that's precisely the point. This isn't "outlawing P2P", it's outlawing business models based on illegal sharing.

Re:Great (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920587)

Well the technology behind Grokster isn't affected, since it exists in a state irrespective of the media.

So if you use the technology for a P2P service that acts with ignorance to the material being transferred (IE you don't actively PROMOTE the trading of material in violation of copyright) then you're probably fine.

Re:Great (1)

garyrich (30652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920618)

They are saying that it traces back to whoever had the "object of promoting". In your example you may only be liable if they determine that the original creators of Grokster had that object.

It's a really vague clause - they will have to rehear this some time in the future on some other case and issue clearer guidance

it's good to see clearly (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920471)

this is a solid ruling, let's all of us produce the device we need, enjoy it for ourselves. Promoting it is another story.

Just maybe "proof of concept" will be the new way of telling everyone that it can be done

onepoint

And? (3, Insightful)

mpitcavage (655718) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920472)

"Come use my software for only legitimate reasons"

See? Now I'm good.

Well, (3, Insightful)

erveek (92896) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920473)

Betamax was fun while it lasted.

uhoh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920474)

does this mean the makers of grokster can be sued now???

This sounds kind of bad. For grokster anyway.

Actually I think the SCOTUS ruling is kind of reasonable... If you're going to advertise that your program does illegal things, then if people do illegal things it's probably because you advertised it.

The Fallout? (1)

vorm (878140) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920478)

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the P2P companies. Although the ruling doesn't necessarily make them fair game, I'd be will to be that it leaves the door open enough that I fear a lot of them will think that it isn't worth the risk anymore.

SLOW DOWN (0, Offtopic)

FlimFlamboyant (804293) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920480)

Ok, I know everyone is in a huge hurry to submit the latest and greatest breaking news to /. before everyone else, and that /. is evidently in an equally tremendous hurry to post it. But please, not at the sacrifice of spelling and grammar. I mean, really. No one is going to care (or probably even notice) if you're 30 seconds behind CNN (or whatever) because you took a moment to do some editing.

Double standards (3, Insightful)

Yusaku Godai (546058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920481)

Does this mean that gun companies can now be held accountable when third-parties commit crimes with a gun?

Only if they Promote Killing People with it .. (3, Insightful)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920494)

.. which means that Hollywood should be liable for promoting the use of guns for killing people whenever they show guns being used for killing people ..

Now that is something I'd like to see ...

Re:Double standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920519)

only if they advertise that their guns should be used for murder (as opposed to self-defense)

Re:Double standards (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920552)

Now that would be a fantastic case to bring to the courts.

Difference is though, right to software piracy isn't constitutionally protected like the right to bear arms is.

Re:Double standards (1)

Mokki (125575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920603)

More realistic comparision would be:

Right to software piracy isn't constitutionally protected like the right to kill people with guns.

Re:Double standards (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920611)

Now that would be a fantastic case to bring to the courts.

It would be fantastic because it would clearly demonstrate that a produce (like a gun) that is made and sold legally, and is done so by an industry that falls all over itself to stress the safe and legal use of its products, would be finally free from frivalous lawsuits. The court seems to be acting pretty rational lately, and most higher courts have consistently found that the makers aren't liable for mis-use (just like Ford isn't liable for criminals using their vehicles as bank robbery getaway cars). The difference, with Grokster, is the actual promotion of the service as a way to violate copyrights.

Re:Double standards (1)

kalleguld (624992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920563)

They just can't mention that guns can kill.

Re:Double standards (1)

eggz128 (447435) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920599)

Well if they advertised their guns with the tag line:

"Great for robbing banks!", then maybe...

They have been (1)

paranode (671698) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920621)

There have been such cases where negligence can be proven on the part of the gun manufacturer or the owner of the store where the gun was sold. Normally, however, these suits are dismissed because they are suing the wrong person for a wrongful death suit.

All Is Not Lost (3, Informative)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920483)

The EFF has an interesting response [eff.org] on the situation.

Re:All Is Not Lost (5, Informative)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920549)

It's actually not a response. That came out several days ago. I'd been expecting it on Slashdot but it never came.

Good Call (-1, Troll)

piett134 (713199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920484)

This is one ruling I agree with. Any real techie knows that the majority of these clients are designed and created for the express purpose of sharing copyrighted material. I have yet to see a lot of "legal" activity taking place on them, not lots of people sharing public-domain music / movies :)

Re:Good Call (1)

FlimFlamboyant (804293) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920612)

"Any real techie knows that the majority of these clients are designed and created for the express purpose of sharing copyrighted material."

Yes, this is true, but the danger in this ruling is in just how it is determined if piracy was the intent of the developer or not. Who decides this, and how do they come to that decision? To say that software was not intended to promote piracy if "reasonable measures" are taken to prevent it is very, very vague at best. Has anyone actually laid down an official definition of what "reasonable measures" are?

Well... (2, Insightful)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920485)

That's the first step towards the out-and-out outlawing of all peer-to-peer programs that are not created by the copyright holder.... It's not hard to argue that BT or eMule or any of the others silently promote piracy.

Of course, this is not the end to piracy... just a new step...

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920586)

I'm not sure that's true. BitTorrent in particular started out as being used for largely legitimate purposes, it seemed, in the first year, to be used pretty much exclusively for distributing GNU/Linux ISOs and similar, freely redistributable, content.

Given this, I doubt the Supreme Court would suggest it falls into the same category as Grokster. Clearly the product was designed for legitimate, lawful, purposes.

That, ultimately, is what the Supremes said today. Context is everything.

This is great! (2, Funny)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920487)

I use IE to do all my piracy, now they can finally have a legal leg to stand on to make MS get rid of the damn thing. After all, what other intent than downloading of (pirated) data could a browser have? Same goes with any P2P app, what other intent could it have, I ask?

-Jesse (please note the sarcasm, people)

CNN Story Link (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920488)

Promotion? (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920491)

Promotion? How hard will it really be to prove "promotion" now for any product that has any ability to support illegal transfers of copyrighted materials?

Sad day.

Haven't seen the actual ruling (1)

slaad (589282) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920498)

I haven't seen the actual ruling yet....I'm not sure anyone has at this point. All we seem to know is that it was unanamous. Although it looks bad, it's hard to do too much speculating until we have some more details.

Lets abandone copyrights and patents (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920499)

Protecting the works of others is detrimental to the development of mankind. The government should force everyone to share their ideas. I think Linus Torvalds has the idea.I named my son after Linus because Linus Torvalds was able to create a great operating system all on his own, and shared it with me. Right now I want to learn how to install Linux.

So (4, Interesting)

paranode (671698) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920503)

We always kind of assumed that something like BitTorrent would be safer because it has more legit uses than most P2P software does. However with this ruling and the elaboration that the legal uses are more or less not relevant if it can be used for mass copyright distrubution, I wonder if this will spell doom for BitTorrent and similar programs.

I think the Supreme Court has made some really questionable decisions as of late. Precedent and politics rather than Constitutionality and liberty are the driving factors behind everything.

Thomas Jefferson opined in the Federalist Papers that we would not be in danger of losing our guaranteed liberties until all three branches of the government became united in their views and doctrines. It seems that we are moving in that direction, or perhaps we are already there.

Re:So (3, Insightful)

tgtanman (728257) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920622)

The quote from Justice Souter says that the legal uses are only irrelevant if the software is distributed "with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright." While this may be true of many other P2P programs, BitTorrent is used daily to transfer large ammounts of legal materials. The only people who could be held liable at the people who host the trackers and/or link to them.

RTFR (5, Informative)

l2718 (514756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920505)

I think we should wait for the text of the ruling to be posted online (to happen here) [supremecourtus.gov] before rushing to say "the sky is falling". We'll be much wiser after reading what they had to say.

AP has a story [ap.org] . It seems the ruling turned on the grounds that they distributed the software "with the object of promoting infringement of copyright", and that they may be liable for third-party infringement by their users, depending on how egregious this promition was. We'll only know had bleak the future is though after reading what the justices had to say.

Wait till Bush gets some more Justices in! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920507)

Looks to me like the land of the free has got a fight on it's hands.

Never mind, in spite of your recent military history, one set of Americans should be able to win a civil war!

Good decision (4, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920508)

Now it is clear, it is legal to distribute a device to infringe copyright.
It is not legal to promote the illegal uses of that device.

This seems pretty reasonable to me. You can make the device, you just aren't allowed to actively benefit from its illegal use.

Re:Good decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920571)

Fuck off dummy.

Protection of betamax case removed (2, Informative)

pgrote (68235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920512)

The interesting thing is that it appears that the protection of the betamax case has been removed when it comes to P2P. Some people think that this will open the floodgates of lawsuits regardless of whether something is advertised to having infringing value or not.

http://www.slyck.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12277 [slyck.com]

Sad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920514)

Sucks for the US. "Promotion" is a terribly weak concept, easily nudged one way or the other in the eyes of judges through skillful (read expensive) lawyering.

Not so strange (1)

myspys (204685) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920515)

If they promote the software using things like "get w4r3z here", then they're 'telling' people to commit crimes

It's like if shops sold knives by using big posters with text like "Buy this knife and you can kill that annoying neighbour!"

by the same logic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920517)

by applying the same logic to gun sales, wouldn't that make gun distributors and/or manufacturers responsible to for all the deaths caused by guns?

Promoting Infringement (5, Insightful)

B1llz0r (854214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920518)

They key is promotion? So i can create the next great filesharing app so long as on my website I don't promote using it to infringe on copyright? I still think that this ruling can be used against applications like Newsleecher. They do not promote copyright infringement but the vast majority of users are using it for that purpose. Its still a great application for retrieving freeware usenet binaries (trust me, they exist).

They can steal my property for theaters/stadiums (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920521)

But I can't steal their music and movies. We need some consistency from SCOTUS! It would only be fair to watch some movies and crank some free tunage while the bulldozers are razing my house to build a stadium or multiplex.

Oh wow ban Grokster huh (0)

flag burning (837301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920527)

Why don't they jst rule against the whole goddamn internet.

Bittorrent doesn't promote illegal use (5, Insightful)

Achra (846023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920529)

This is definitely the important part of this ruling. It's very obvious that Kazaa, Napster, Morpheus, Grokster, Limewire et al Truly exist on a userbase of copyright infringement. Not only does it exist and they take no official notice of it, but you can easily argue that the ONLY reason for owning a copy of any of those clients is for the explicit use of copyright infringement. You can say "P2P is noble" but you can't say that Kazaa is. Bittorrent is exactly the opposite, that is, many people do abuse the tool but it's primary use is legitimate. Anyone have usage statistics for legit/illegit uses? I move upwards of 50gb in legal material every month, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Great Comments All Around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920530)

What a rediculous decision. Just had to say it too. Everyone else has explained why.

Big Margin Surprising, But Not the Ruling (4, Insightful)

jratcliffe (208809) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920534)

While I was surprised by the 9-0 ruling, the end result isn't that shocking. Essentially, the Court ruled that, if you sell or market a product/service, and the key point of your marketing plan is that the product enables users to do something illegal, you can be held liable for the results of their actions.

Before we get into a discussion of "but is Ford liable for drunk driving," this isn't the same thing. If Ford marketed their new model, the "Boozemaster LE," which had IR sensors built into the headlights that made it easier to home in on pedestrians when you're drunk, then yes, they would be liable.

Sony won the Betamax case because they were pitching their product based on its non-infringing uses - Grokster lost because the basis of their value proposition was the infringing uses.

selling a sporty car = speeding (3, Insightful)

dslmodem (733085) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920536)

or am I the only confused?

The "intent" test is troublesome (3, Insightful)

ky11x (668132) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920541)

How are you supposed to read the minds of the developers to figure out if they "intended" to promote illegal use? Almost every designer of P2P software probably knew perfectly well that the service would be used to trade illegal copies, but they also believed that distribution of legal content is also something that would be promoted. Would it have to be "primary intent" to promote illegal use or just "secondary intent" is enough?

Also, in such "dual use" cases, it's strange to say that the service must be held liable only because the creator knew that illegal uses could be made of it and openly admitted it (equivalent to "promotion"). You end up cutting out all the legal uses too. This is the sort of "chilling efects" that we don't want to happen under the 1st Amendment.

The courts have faield the peopel again! (2, Insightful)

EQ (28372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920554)

As I mentioned in my submission a while ago (when the ruling broke on CNBC) that apparently got there right after this one:

This yanks the Betamx case from underneath Grokster, and forces a trail in the 9th circuit. Bascially, it gives the MPAA and RIAA a big biag hammer, and the only thign stopping is is the amount of money Grokster can spend at trial. This may bankrupt them, cause the cause te be decided by money, instead of a jury. And even then, an ignorant jury can issue some pretty bad verdicts.

Teh worst thing? Betamax no longer protects P2P - the Supremes have screwed the Betamax ruling over. Under thier ruling, the whole internet can be shut down and ISP's sued for infringement becuase they provide something that might be used for infringement.

What the hell is wrong with the courts? Its akin to convicting a woman of prostitution becasue she is "equipped" to commit the crime.

First the States rights are trampled in the Med Marijuana case, then the individual rights are trampled in the "Takings" case, now online rights are trashed in the Grokster case. The Supreme court needs to be reigned in. Or they are looking at triggereing a second American revolution.

Johnny, get your gun.

FYI: My second submission had more info. (2, Insightful)

furry_wookie (8361) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920556)

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that developers of software violate federal copyright law when they provide computer users with the means to share music and movie files downloaded from the internet.

From the AP wire [newsday.com] : The unanimous decision sends the case back to lower court, which had ruled in favor of file-sharing services Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc. on the grounds that the companies couldn't be sued. The justices said there was enough evidence of unlawful intent for the case to go to trial.

"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 ... [t]here is substantial evidence in MGM's favor on all elements of inducement," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the court.

In other news... Gun makers (1)

mexter2005 (854056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920561)

Gun makers found not responsible for the illegal uses of their products, so long as their products aren't promoted with the intent to shoot someone.

RTFA, the sky is not falling (4, Insightful)

Dr Kool, PhD (173800) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920568)

"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"

So unless you advertise that your service is useful for infringement OR you take steps to intentionally allow for infringement then this ruling doesn't affect you. That won't stop chicken little from posting that an FTP ban is around the corner though.

Opening the door for Legal DDOS attacks (1)

doormat (63648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920573)

Basically what this does is make it so Hollywood can sue you and/or your company into the ground if it is capable of infringement based on this ruling. It doesnt matter what the legit use is, Hollywood has reasonable grounds to sue you and tie up your product in endless legal battles and force you to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers before you can even sell your product. Goodbye two-guys-in-a-garage innovation, its now fenced off to those who can afford lots of lawyers.

Hmmmm.... (2, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920574)

The case is considered so pivotal that 55 amicus briefs have been submitted. The National Football League, the Christian Coalition and various artists are among those weighing in on the entertainment side. AT&T, Intel, the ACLU and the American Conservative Union have filed on behalf of the tech side.
I cringe at the mixing of the Chistianity with business, politics, and law; often, it can imply a Peter-esque loss of eye contact with the Great Commissioner.

The core sentence: (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920575)

From the ruling itself, :
"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,"
Justice David H. Souter wrote this for the court.

Shouldn't this work for EVERYTHING? (2, Insightful)

darksith69 (812076) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920576)

One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe human rights... is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses

What does the court have to say for weapons (used by police, for example) which every year kill thousands of people in the USA alone? Oh, wait, human rights are not even close to be as important as copyright... May the USA keep being the world's top weapon exporter, god bless America!

Haven't read the decision (1)

Fermatprime (883412) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920579)

I haven't read the decision (I still think very few to none of us have) so we don't know just how far it goes. It could only apply to P2P software, or it could be a total reversal of Betamax (thus perhaps applying to VCRs, CD-Rs, photocopiers, TCP-IP, and any number of other things.) Let's hope for the former.

Hard Cases Make Bad Law (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920582)

Old legal maxim. The problem here is that Grokster was patently setting out to work around the law, and as an unsympathetic defendent they were the RIAA's ideal target in their attempt to overturn Betamax.

I'm waiting to see the decision, but from the sound of it the Court did about as well as I could hope: rather than address the technology point, they addressed the business model. For now, it seems, Bram Cohen [bittorrent.com] is safe.

Intent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920588)

I imagine we'll see bittorrent.com remove their search feature in the near future.

How about this... (1, Redundant)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920595)

"One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright ... is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses.""

One who distributes a gun with the object of promoting its use to kill ... is liable for the resulting acts of killing by third parties using the gun, regardless of the gun's lawful uses.

Fig Leaf (0, Redundant)

JehCt (879940) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920596)

So if you

  1. create something that is 99% of the time used for illegal purposes
  2. knowing this, still distribute it, and
  3. continue to promote its use
then you can be held liable for the resulting crimes. The fact that 1% of the users don't break the law does provides no cover. Sounds good to me.

It would be nice if they applied this same logic to the sale of cheap handguns.

Pirates don't D/L music, software engineers do! (0, Redundant)

http101 (522275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920600)

"One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright ... is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses."

That's bullshit... that's like saying Smith and Wesson is liable for my illegal shooting spree (mass ass cap-busting). If we can't hold gun manufacturers liable for drive-bys, hold-ups, and freeway shootings, what then? I'm curious to know what benefits the judge or 'other related parties' are getting in return for this ruling.

*BANG!*

Makes sense, pretty much (5, Insightful)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920602)

If I sell lock picking devices and say: "makes it so easy to break into your neighbor's house and take his stuff," I'd expect to get sued when it happens.

If I sell lock picking devices and say: "makes it so easy to get back into your house or car when you've locked the keys inside," I'd expect protection from lawsuits.

At the same time, this makes the legal environment that technology producers have to deal with more unfriendly. Companies are going to start including DMA when they otherwise might not have, just to make sure they duck lawsuits. Copyright is good. But technology is more important than copyright. I don't like the idea of effectively suppressing technology to protect content producers.

Well, hopefully the chilling effect won't be that huge. Hopefully only egregious cases like Grokster will be seen in the courts. I'm holding my breath.

Did Grokster actually have... (1)

Cinquero (174242) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920604)

... such an objection?

Amicus brief filed by the Christian Coalition? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920608)

WTF? Since when does the Christian Coalition give a good god damn about P2P? Looks like I have another reason to despise Christian fucktards.

Grokster related interview on Mad Penguin (1)

SilentBob4 (805119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920610)

Mad Penguin is running an interview [madpenguin.org] with EFF attorney Wendy Seltzer. Good read.

All is not lost (1)

Kphrak (230261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920616)

This isn't over! Hopefully some "activist judge" will overrule it and....

Oh, wait. Crap.

How I Will Be Celebrating This Ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920619)

300K DSL and free movies!

Okay...can we put our money where our mouth is? (1)

flinxmeister (601654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920620)

It's clear that there's just too much money at play here to play the new game by the old rules. That, and those justices probably don't know the first thing about filesharing.

However, there are tons of good non-'industry' musicians out there that love what the 'net is doing for music. If you don't like this ruling, buy their music and start supporting industry change. This isn't sticking it to the man or boycotting or anything. It's creating the new music industry. Simple as that. The old one just needs to go away.

Start at CDBaby, and go from there. You can also support the ones who spoke up for filesharing tech (as listed in the article).

To be blunt... (1)

mjh49746 (807327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12920623)

To be blunt, if you're actively encouraging people to commit copyright infringement with your software, then you should be liable for infringement. It would be different if you were just writing software alone and not advertising about getting free music with it. You cannot encourage people to break the law and then shield yourself from the law, too. That's just not right. Now they'll sue the right people.
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