.

Grokster Loses in Court

File-sharing sites liable if illegal downloading is their main use

June 27, 2005 12:00 AM ET

In the long-running case of MGM vs. Grokster, the Supreme Court ruled today that a file-sharing site can be held liable when consumers use its service to illegally download music or movies -- if that is the service's primary intended use. Now it is up to a lower court to determine whether services like Grokster have promoted illegal downloading or have taken reasonable steps to dissuade users from copyright infringement.

"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," wrote Justice David H. Souter on behalf of the court.

The question has been whether file-sharing sites are liable for the way in which consumers use them, or if individual users should be targeted -- a far less realistic goal, considering that more than 200 million people worldwide use file-sharing software.

What's at stake is a lot of money. Movie studios, record labels and artists such as the Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow and Don Henley are protesting that downloading costs them millions in revenue. On the other hand, the tech sites claim that their being made legally responsible will seriously stifle technological innovation.

Ultimately, today's ruling may not result in the clampdown on downloading and piracy that the industry hopes: Software can still be created abroad and posted online. The decision may, however, lead some consumers to steer clear of peer-to-peer networks in favor of pay services such as iTunes.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com