.

Legal Win for P2P Makers

Court rules that they are not liable for user's actions

August 20, 2004 12:00 AM ET
In a unanimous decision Thursday, California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that distributors of peer-to-peer (P2P) software Grokster and Morpheus, created by StreamCast, cannot be held liable for unauthorized activities of users who download copyrighted material. The ruling is a significant blow to the recording and film industries, whose representatives claim that this technology robs them of billions of dollars annually.

The court's ruling is based on the fact that P2P technology, which allows users to directly share files from their hard drives, has legitimate uses: specifically that it can help artists earn money and exposure. The decision also said that distributors have no control over users' activities on the decentralized networks.

"Today's ruling will ultimately be viewed as a victory for copyright owners," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney representing the P2P distributors. "The entertainment industry has been fighting new technologies for a century, only to learn again and again that these new technologies create new markets and opportunities. There is no reason to think that file sharing will be any different."

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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."

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