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Grokster Held Liable for Copyright Violations on P2P Network

posted on 2005-06-27 19:27 EDT
Folks who use peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks/software to download anime and other media material may be affected by this new U.S. Supreme Court ruling

The nation's top court in the Grokster case this morning ruled that P2P networks like Grokster and Morpheus can be sued for encouraging copyright violations. However the court didn't buy the media companies' argument that P2P technology should be outlawed altogether on grounds its basic purpose is to facilitate copyright piracy.

The court said P2P networks that "encourage" or "promote" unlawful trading of copyrighted music or video files by any users can be sued right along with the users doing the actual illicit trading. The P2P networks' legal liability for the actions of their users will depend on how they market the network/software and what steps they take to curtail illicit uses, the court said.

Opinions of the effect that this ruling will have on other P2P networks were divided. Many news sites are reporting that this ruling will be the death of P2P networks, however Lawrence Solum, John E. Cribbet Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law told PC Magazine, "It might be viewed as a tactical loss in the short run for Grokster, but it's definitely a strategic victory for P2P in the long run." Solum and other experts explained that Grokster was held liable because it intentionally promoted copyright infringement, and that the ruling actually provides other P2P networks with a clear path on how to avoid similar liability.

Thanks to Herb Kirchhoff for this article.

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