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by Franki

The net is alive with the sound of P2P proponents gnashing their teeth, and of record and movie companies rubbing their hands together in glee. The Supreme court has just ruled unanimously that peer to peer companies can now be held accountable for the actions of their users. In my previous article, I showed my disdain for companies that blame their bad performance on any external factor they can find. In this case that blame has been levelled at P2P networks like Grokster, and now these huge companies can use the legal system to put any of these companies out of business. In other words, we now have a Mafia style protection racket in the entertainment industry. Do it our way or we’ll make sure you don’t do it at all, or put another way, “make us money or we’ll make sure you lose all of yours”. The real effect of this ruling is that the previous Sony Betamax ruling of 1984 has just essentially been overturned, at least in part. This may result in opening the doors to widespread litigation of any company that offers a product that could possibly be used infringing copyright. That means the manufacturer of your MP3 player or even your mobile phone could be sued, and that means they will up the prices on such devices to cover the risk of litigation. To anyone but the record and movie companies, this is not good news.

The Judges stated that the P2P companies had invoked or otherwise advertised the use of their networks for the purposes of infringing copyright and therefore should be held accountable for such uses. Many think that this may protect MP3 player manufacturers and the like because they’d have to advertise “infringing use” to be liable, but consider that explaining in the instructions for the MP3 player how to rip a CD and copy the music to your player could be construed as an advertisement to infringe, so nobody that offers such devices is safe from the repercussions of this ruling.

More info on the troubling new ruling can be found at:, Wired and TheRegister.

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