Grokster Loses

Via Scotus Blog: The Court rules against Grokster and StreamCast:

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.

News coverage of decision here.

File-sharing services shouldn't get a free pass on bad behavior, justices said.

"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 for the court.

The text of the decision is here. (pdf)

Update: The Wall St. Journal has an ongoing discussion on the decision by several legal experts. The free link to the discussion is here.

Original Post:

Among the six important decisons expected by the Supreme Court Monday is the Grokster decision. The Wall St. Journal examines the case here (free link), asking the question,

What moral responsibility should scientists, engineers and, in this case, computer programmers have for the uses of their work?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has much more on the case.

Cross your fingers and hope they rule for Grokster.

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    Re: Grokster Loses (none / 0) (#1)
    by roy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:36 PM EST
    As a software engineer, I follow this sort of thing pretty closely. The scariest part is how vague the standards are for stuff that has legal and illegal uses. Apple's iPod and iTunes are the usual examples of ambiguity. My company makes equipment which could be used to copy virtually anything, bypassing any DRM scheme I've ever heard of (but don't do that). I doubt anybody would want to sue either company, but if they did, our lawyers would be having bad days. It doesn't bother me much that Grokster was judged to cross the line. It bothers me that nobody knows where the line is.

    Re: Grokster Loses (none / 0) (#2)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:36 PM EST
    as if this is going to do anything whatsoever to stop the spread of so-called "pirated" files... Not one dam thing. People will resort to services such as Rapid Share, Megaupload, FTP, etc etc... Not to mention that the best file sharing client has been released under the GNU license, these programs will be available for a very long time to come. Unless the gov't wants to monitor your internet traffic constantly (and who wants that? for any reason? not me, and hopefully not any sane person!), this behavior will go on and on and on... Roy is right, the ambiguity expressed by the courts is frightening...

    Re: Grokster Loses (none / 0) (#3)
    by Al on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:36 PM EST
    Wonderful. I can't wait till the first lawsuit against a gun manufacturer because one of their guns was used in a robbery.

    Re: Grokster Loses (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:36 PM EST
    Just another stopgap in the collapsing dam that is the modern entertainment industry. Boycott RIAA.

    Re: Grokster Loses (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:37 PM EST
    Adware and spyware free p2p program: here