The Grokster ruling
Posted Jun 30, 2005 15:30 UTC (Thu) by pimlott
Parent article: The Grokster ruling
When I read the ruling (only the court opinion), after seeing the headlines but before hearing any commentary, I found it on the whole a relief. The court ruled on the grounds of clear intent to induce copyright infringement, evidenced by the unequivocal statements and actions of the defendants. It carefully avoided lending support to any other grounds; indeed, while it pointed out that "neither company attempted to develop filtering tools", this was considered significant only in the context of their demonstrated (by other evidence) "unlawful objective". "Substantial non-infringing uses" never came up, except to say that it's not a get out of jail free card (and the Circuit Court was misguided to interpret it as such).
While this does likely mean more lawsuits by the recording industry hoping to extend the ruling, I don't think it gives us anything to worry about. The ruling was based primarily on the egregious behavior of the defendants, not on the technology and not even so much on the uses of the technology:
If liability for inducing infringement is ultimately found, it will not be on the basis of
presuming or imputing fault, but from inferring a patently
illegal objective from statements and actions showing
what that objective was.
Bittorrent, to pick an example, does not seem to meet these grounds. And by not touching the Betamax case, it left that part of the Circuit Court's decision intact. In other words, the good news from the Circuit Court is still good. Couple that with the Court's harping on the "balance between the interests of protection and innovation" (as PJ on Groklaw wrote, they "get it"), and we should be feeling pretty good.
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