Supreme Court to Hear P2P Case


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case concerning whether companies that develop P2P applications should be held responsible for copyright infringement that takes place on those networks. The recording industry has repeatedly asked the courts to find companies such as StreamCast, which distributes the Morpheus software, and Grokster liable for music piracy, but a succession of rulings have favored the P2P companies. In those decisions, the courts have consistently invoked the Sony-Betamax decision by the Supreme Court, which made VCRs legal despite their ability to make illegal copies of copyrighted movies and television programs. Some observers believe that if the Supreme Court overturns the Sony-Betamax decision, all manner of electronic equipment will be subject to the decision. Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has represented StreamCast, said, "This case will ... [determine] the future of a whole host of future digital products." Arguments will likely be heard in March, and a decision in the case is expected by June.

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