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One Year After Grokster Decision: File Sharing Continues to Unabated

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersPolicy Analysis

Text of U.S.S.C. Grokster Decision
I link to several “one year after” stories. The essence of these stories, as anyone who has paid attention over the last year knows, is that, while the law suits may continue, and the content industry legal tactics may be changing, Internet-based file sharing not only continues but has increased.

Dale’s Comment: As has been the pattern of the content industry for a century, fighting new technologies may stem the inevitable tide for awhile, but in the end, the content industry will have to adapt its business models to the Internet era. As with all the technologies they opposed in the past (player pianos, FM radio, VCRs, cassette tapes and more), the content industry will, of necessity, embrace consumer-friendly and fair Internet music distribution business models and, despite themselves, will likely be even more profitable when they do. The question is, how long will they persist with this futile battle.

Sources: San Jose Mercury News | MSNBC | LA Times | Star Tribune

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Grokster Shuttered in Court Settlement

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersInjunctionsSettlements

U.S. Supreme Court Finds Grokster Liable

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersDecisionsMilestones

Text of Decision
Grokster is held to be contributorily liable for inducing/encouraging its users to directly infringe the copyright in content shared through the Grokster peer-to-peer file sharing network.
Sources: Wikipedia Entry | PDF version | EFF Page | DRM Watch

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Grokster & Streamcast Win Major Court Victory

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersDecisions

Text of DecisionHTML Version
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc., unlike the original Napster, were not liable because they don’t have central servers pointing users to copyright material.

Note: This decision was ultimately overtuned by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2005. See related stories posted on June 27, 2005.

Sources: MSNBC | Tech Law Journal

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StreamCast Loses District Court P2P File Sharing Case

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersDecisions

Text of Decision
In attempting to apply the Supreme Court's new "inducement" doctrine from MGM v. Grokster, District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, the same judge that in an earlier ruling had cleared StreamCast of infringement charges, found "…evidence of StreamCast's unlawful intent … overwhelming", held StreamCast liable for inducing Morpheus users to infringe on copyright and granted the plaintiffs summary judgment. Subject to any successful appeal, StreamCast is liable for up to $150,000 for each copyrighted song or movie shared with Morpheus which, of course, trends towards a damages value of $infinity! :)

The rather unclear Supreme Court doctrine of inducement requires a "clear expression or other affirmative steps" beyond mere distribution of P2P software to find infringement. Judge Wilson held that the test was met because: (i) Internal e-mails by StreamCast executives showed their awareness of users' infringements, they were eager to insure the supply of copyrighted content on the network, (iii) they implemented features that made it easier to infringe, and (iv) they failed to implement technology that could have deterred some infringements.

After MGM v. Grokster, Sharman Networks (Kazaa), Grokster, iMesh (Bearshare), eDonkey, Qtrax, Mashboxx and others settled. StreamCast was one of the few that decided to fight on. A StreamCast spokesperson said the company may appeal. LimeWire remains the only other large P2P Player still fighting on.

Sources: Ars Technica | EFF | New York Law Journal | Kathy Kirkman | L.A. Times | Chron.com (AP) | Daily Tech | MP3.com | Internet News | The Register | Slyck | Reuters | P2PNet | techdirt | Wired (AP) | cbc.ca | RIAA Press Release | DRM Watch

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eDonkey Settles for $30M and Shuts Down after Adverse Ruling

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersDecisionsSettlements

After a judge in New York's southern district ruled that eDonkey facilitated illegal activity by allowing users to swap copyrighted material over the eDonkey2000 network, MetaMachine Inc., the firm behind eDonkey, Overnet and their P2P variants, has agreed to cease distribution of their P2P software and to pay the RIAA $30 million to avoid a copyright infringement suit. The company also agreed to take measures to curtail file sharing by existing eDonkey and Overnet users. Despite the shutdown and settlement, existing users of eDonkey, and an open source version called eMule, will likely go on sharing files unabated. While BearShare, Kazza, Grokster and others have settled with the RIAA, Warez P2P, Limewire and Soulseek are examples of major P2P services that have not settled. The judge must approve the final terms of the eDonkey settlement.

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Sources: ars technica | CNet | San Jose Mercury news (AP) | MP3.com | Slyck | CDfreaks.com | PC World | Mac World | Playfuls | PC Pro | BetaNews | The Register | Syndey Morning Herald | DRM Watch

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Music Industry Sues Limewire

Categories: BigMedia v P2P Providers

Text of Complaint
Text of LimeWire’s Counter Claim
Like Napster, Kazaa, Grokster, Streamcast, Bearshare and others before it, the music industry has set its legal sights on LimeWire, a leading P2P content distribution service. In a suit filed in Manhattan federal court, the record companies accuse LimeWire of profiting from illicit downloads of their music, saying “the scope of the infringement is massive”. In the complaint they are accused of contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and, uniquely, common law copyright infringement. In September of 2005, Limewire and other P2P software providers were served with cease and desist letters. Since then BearShare, eDonkey and WinMX all ceased operations as a result of the letter. LimeWire continued.

Sources: CNet | Slyck | L.A. Times (AP) | DRM Watch | ZDNet | Silicon.com | Afterdawn | CD Freaks | Reuters

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StreamCast to Slug it Out Against the MPAA/RIAA in the Courts After All

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersCases

After previously stating it was going to settle its dispute with the RIAA and MPAA, Sreamcast, which is responsible for the file-sharing program Morpheus, has done an about face and is going to take its chances with a jury trial. Lower courts have been kinder to P2P litigants than was the Supreme Court which held Grokster liable for “promoting” and “encouraging” infringement by the users. As with Torrentspy’s decision to fight the MPAA last week, Streamcast will argue that it neither promotes nor encourages infringement by its users and is therefore not responsible for any copyright infringement by its users.

Sources: ars technica | Boston Herald | Business Week | MP3.com | commercialappeal.com | L.A. Times

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Torrentspy Fights Back Against MPAA in Motion to Dismiss

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersCases

Text of Motion to Dismiss
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in MGM v. Grokster clearly found Grokster to be contributorily liable for inducing its users to directly infringe the copyright in content shared through the Grokster peer-to-peer file sharing network, on the basis that it took “affirmative steps” to induce such infringement. Absent affirmative steps to induce copyright infringement, Grokster arguably would not have been liable. Since that decision was handed down, the entertainment industry has attempted to expand what the decision actually said in arguing, without foundation, that file sharing and torrent tracking sites were, per se, illegal on the basis of the Grokster decision. The Supreme Court did not make that ruling. This is the argument Torrentspy is aptly making in its Motion to Dismiss at lines 18 to 20:

There are no facts showing a “clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement” on the parts of defendants. (Grokster, at 125 S.Ct. 2770.)

Sources: BBC | PC World Australia | Techdirt | The Register | The Inquirer | MacWorld | Playfuls | Afterdawn.com | EarthTimes.org | Torrentspy Press Release | LinuxWorld.com.au | ITNews.com.au | WebProNews | Slyck | PC Advisor

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