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RIAA, MPAA Lose Suit Against Streamcast and Grokster 628

ha-reed writes "News.com is reporting that a federal court judge in Los Angeles has handed down a ruling that Streamcast Networks (the company that makes Morpheus) and Grokster are not liable for copyright infringements due to files that are traded with their software. The judge made the comparison between file sharing software and VCR's that many supporters of file sharing often use." EFF has the decision (1.4Mb PDF) online (and a .torrent is here in case eff.org melts, which it won't). See our most recent story about the lawsuit.
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RIAA, MPAA Lose Suit Against Streamcast and Grokster

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  • FF (Score:5, Funny)

    by bludstone ( 103539 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:24PM (#5810717)
    Am I the only one who had the Final Fantasy battle victory music pop into their heads after seeing this headline?

    Of course, my verbal reply would be. "Duh, its about time." But hey, this is good.

    I hope the judge gets some nookie for this one.
  • Whoa.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by deanj ( 519759 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:25PM (#5810727)
    You can almost hear everyone at the RIAA doing that Scoobie-Doo voice..."Rah-Oh"....
  • hurray... (Score:5, Funny)

    by frodo from middle ea ( 602941 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:25PM (#5810729) Homepage
    I am gonna celebrate this landmark victory by downloading move movies from kazaa..
    • by killthiskid ( 197397 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @04:10PM (#5811716) Homepage Journal
      I am gonna celebrate this landmark victory by downloading
      move movies from kazaa..

      The camera pans across a room, boxes, packing materials, and possesions scattered about in no particular order...

      ...and here we have Aunt Alice packing up Mom's favorite lamp. "hey Alice, how's the move treating you?', echoes the voice behind the camera...

      "well, I know this is a gift from your Dad to Mom, and I know she'd just die! if the movers broke it"

      ***

      Sounds rather like a rather boring way to celebrate to me... =)

    • Maybe not, brother (Score:3, Informative)

      by SunPin ( 596554 )
      The ruling protects the software developers but leaves the end user wide open to litigation.

      We may still see some college kids get thrown in jail.

  • w00t! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:25PM (#5810731) Journal
    Well, we got one win.

    Score: Common Sense 1, RIAA/MPAA 50

    • Re:w00t! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dylan Zimmerman ( 607218 ) <Bob_Zimmerman@my ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:41PM (#5810902)
      This sets a wonderful precedent for that nasty RIAA suit against the college students.

      Now that people are finally admitting that car manufacturers aren't liable for every drunk driver, we should see a lot more wins against the RIAA member companies. Or, at least, we should see the RIAA start to go after the real 'pirates' instead of companies that write legitimately useful software.
      • Re:w00t! (Score:5, Funny)

        by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:45PM (#5810951) Journal
        I have no delusions that we are gonna win this in the end. I am just happy it won't be a shutout.:)
      • by Syncdata ( 596941 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:45PM (#5811469) Journal
        This doesn't set any kind of precedent at all for the college students, unfortunately for them. All the judge said was that the companies putting out the file sharing programs can't be sued because their product was being used for illegal purposes. The college students themselves were themselves making the files available, or downloading the files. Though the maker of the medium they were using to distribute files can't be sued, that's not to say that the individual users can't be.
        • by jdkincad ( 576359 ) <insane.cellist@gmail.com> on Friday April 25, 2003 @04:34PM (#5811883)
          In the case of the Michigan Tech student, at least, all he did was right a program to search [servemp3.com] what people had on the LAN.
        • by Ioldanach ( 88584 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @05:09PM (#5812160)
          This doesn't set any kind of precedent at all for the college students, unfortunately for them. All the judge said was that the companies putting out the file sharing programs can't be sued because their product was being used for illegal purposes. The college students themselves were themselves making the files available, or downloading the files. Though the maker of the medium they were using to distribute files can't be sued, that's not to say that the individual users can't be.

          The students were doing 2 things, in general. They'd written and were hosting a site which indexed all available files on the campus network, and they'd put files in publicly available directories on their servers.

          The decision here reflects on the first, but not the second, count. The first count is merely an indexing service which would stand somewhere between this decision and napster. That is to say, they control the site and traffic but they have no safeguards for restricting usage.

          They're still screwed on the second count, though. They were sharing files they did not have the copyright on, and thus were commiting copyright infringement.

      • Re:w00t! (Score:5, Informative)

        by joshki ( 152061 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @04:04PM (#5811664)
        uhm, no... It doesn't.
        Read the decision -- I know it's a bit long, but it's very easy reading for a court order. The order specifically says that there is copyright infringement going on. The only thing this does is absolve Grokster and Streamcast of responsibility for it because they're not "substantially contributing" to the infringement. One of the key points in their defense was the fact that they could all close their doors tomorrow and there would be no change in what was being traded on the networks. The other key point they made was that there was a substantial non-infringing use for the technology. There's a huge difference between their position and the college students who were working hard to ensure people could trade music and movies -- they can't claim ignorance, and they likely won't be able to claim non-infringing use of their networks either.

        Also, as soon as they (the college students) shut their networks down the file-trading stopped (over their networks at least) -- this case is mostly about gnutella and whether or not Grokster and Streamcast control gnutella and kazaa.... Neither of them do(they control some software used to access the networks, but there is no control over the networks -- that was a key point in their defense), and as a result they walk -- your college students won't likely be so lucky, although I think the lawsuit is ridiculous.

    • by vortmax(OU) ( 445229 ) <jdraper.gmail@com> on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:58PM (#5811598) Homepage
      "Satan asks courts to reverse ruling; complains 'Hell no fun covered in ice'."
  • Finally... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phoebusQ ( 539940 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:26PM (#5810743)
    someone in the judicial ranks has recognized the difference between a tool and what people choose to do with it.
    • by Trinity-Infinity ( 91335 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:32PM (#5810807) Homepage
      Indeed, recognizing tools when you see them is a talent! *winkwink*
    • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lionchild ( 581331 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:37PM (#5810860) Journal
      Indeed! Otherwise we'd need to be filing lawsuits against bullet manufacturers. I mean it is the bullet that kills, not really the gun, eh? I suppose this is that 'some day' we've all been dreaming about, when common sense comes to the foreground.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:38PM (#5810867)
      The Supreme Court: Sony vs. Univeral [eff.org] - "The sale of the VTR's to the general public does not constitute contributory infringement of respondents' copyrights."
    • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sporty ( 27564 )
      There's always the counterpoint, which is fearful. Some tools are just outlawed, 'cause there is no good use.

      Look at the AK-47. Name a particularly good reason why you need a fully automatic (automagic) weapon. Having a firearm is enough, no?

      THe problem is, everyone, everwhere see's computers and various technologies as AK-47's. No depth perception.
      • Deer. We've got bad deer problems where I come from.

        It's gotten so bad the children are afraid to go to school.
      • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Xerithane ( 13482 ) <xerithane@nerd[ ]m.org ['far' in gap]> on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:06PM (#5811132) Homepage Journal
        Look at the AK-47. Name a particularly good reason why you need a fully automatic (automagic) weapon. Having a firearm is enough, no?

        Because I want to. Now, name a particularly good reason why I shouldn't. I'm trained in handling, marksmanship, and am not a felon.

        THe problem is, everyone, everwhere see's computers and various technologies as AK-47's. No depth perception.

        Uh, aside from having an extra comma, this doesn't make sense. Likening a computer to an AK-47 is like.. wait.. it's likening a computer to an AK-47. One is a piece of silicon that does logical analysis and the other is a fucking gun.
      • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gantzm ( 212617 )
        > Look at the AK-47. Name a particularly good reason why you need a fully automatic (automagic) weapon.

        To defend myself from the government that attempts to confiscate my AK-47, 'nuff said.
      • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:21PM (#5811246)
        To defend myself against a group of criminals armed with handguns.

      • firearms (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zogger ( 617870 )
        --firearmns, any firearms, used defensively are used to shoot badguys. Badguys come in all sizes, colors, wear various pieces of clothing, and come in any number of configs. You use the appropriate tool to deal with the appropriate problem. One badguy right up close in your face, probably better to pull a handgun. 5 badguys across the room to 100 yards away, better to use a full auto. Any number of badguys more than 100 yards away, and given an exercise limit here of small arms-rifle class, it's better to h
      • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dolly_Llama ( 267016 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @04:31PM (#5811863) Homepage
        There's one thing in banning automatic weapons, there's another thing in banning anything that LOOKS like an AK-47, as is the case in California.

        I can't even buy a semi-automatic (one shot per trigger pull) version of it, nor of the AR-15, nor the MP5. Worse yet is that the law regarding what is and is not allowed is so vague as to let law enforcement, not the legislature decide on a whim what i can buy. Utter crap.

    • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by miratrix ( 601203 )
      From the quick reading through the decision, It seems like what got Grokster and StreamCast off the hook was that the network does not depend on Grokster and StreamCast to survive - Grokster nor StreamCast has central control like Napster had, but relies on series of SuperNodes outside their control.

      "Plaintiffs appear reluctant to acknowledge a seminal distinction between Grokster/StreamCast and Napster: neither Grokster nor StreamCast provides the "site and facilities" for direct infringement. Napster,
      • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dyolf Knip ( 165446 )
        Suweeeeet....

        Actually, what amazes me is that a law enforcement official recognized the utter pointlessness and futility of enforcing the letter of the law. Usually they'll just forge on ahead and make idiots of themselves (cough*War on Drugs*cough).

        • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bwt ( 68845 )

          No, that is not what happened. The judge recognized the utter pointlessness and futility of claiming that the letter of the law does ban what these P2P software distributors do. In fact, the judge all but invited the legislature to create laws to limit the ability of such networks to profit from providing software with a "draw" from widespread infringement.
      • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by miratrix ( 601203 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:03PM (#5811111)
        My favourite quote, by the way, is

        "To justify a judicial remedy, however, Plaintiffs invite this Court to expand existing copyright law beyond its well-drawn boundaries. As the Supreme Court has observed, court must tread lightly in circumstances such as these."
    • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:14PM (#5811191)
      someone in the judicial ranks has recognized the difference between a tool and what people choose to do with it.

      Actually, this is a case where he reconciles this decision with the Napster one, and he does a very good job making a compelling argument why this and Napster are very much different. So I don't know that it's a matter of finally getting a good judge...it may be more a matter of the community picking the correct battle.

      I know it's long read, but check out the decision. The best bits are:

      pg 11, lines 1-3

      pg 24, 4-7

      pg 26, 8-15

      pg 31, line 22 - pg 32, line 26

      pg 32, line 25 - pg 33 line 2

      He makes a very clear argument that the centralized server is critical to the argument, and that under copyright law, one is liable for "vicarious" infringement if one has the right and ability to police the activity AND if one profits from it. As Napster did all 3, they ate it on this count. Kazaa doesn't.

      Also, Napster was guilty of contributing to copyright infringement as the crime could not have been committed without Napster's assistance, and as there were specific times where the RIAA notified them of specific crimes (ie, specific files) and Napster did nothing. The law is very clear on that point - if you could have stopped it given current means and don't, you are guilty.

      I made that whole "it's not the tool" argument for Napster many times, but having read the actual copyright law involved now, I can see how Napster went down. They needed a better legal team from the outset, because what they did was flat against the law.

  • Sounds good... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mental_telepathy ( 564156 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:27PM (#5810746)
    But who does that leave the record companies to go after? I am banking on Apple's new music service to keep me out of the big house.
  • Judge Wilson (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:27PM (#5810750)
    Judge Wilson, who decided this case, is known as a libertarian. He's no corporate stooge, as some have suggested, just becasue he ruled that Kazaa can be sued in the US.

    Now that we finally got some results on the merits, we can see that we may actually be in good hands here.
  • by 2MuchC0ffeeMan ( 201987 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:27PM (#5810752) Homepage
    becuase you KNOW they WILL appeal...

    until i see a supreme court judgement, i'm not going to bother to celebrate.
  • by PipianJ ( 574459 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:27PM (#5810754)
    The music industry will appeal. The music industry INTENDS to win, however much money they must spend, and however many appeals they must request.
  • Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:28PM (#5810762)
    ... a judge that couldn't be bought. I hope he has good bodyguards.
  • by SLot ( 82781 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:29PM (#5810770) Homepage Journal
    It was announced that the world will be ending
    shortly, as a judge has shown cluefulness in regards
    to technology.
  • by bricriu ( 184334 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:29PM (#5810771) Homepage
    I think Nelson put it best when he said, "HAH-ha!"
  • by tapin ( 157076 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:29PM (#5810777)
    The biggest thing about the news, I think, is the fact that it was a victory in LA. Y'know, where they make movies and music and all that. The RIAA and MPAA probably just assumed that all of the money they're throwing around town would guarantee them a victory.

    Obviously, the immediate upshot is that -- miracle of miracles -- Stephen Wilson won't ever see another case brought by either cartel.

    However, this is a good precedent. Even judges in the belly of the beast realize just how far the media giants have overextended themselves. My only disappointment is that this has no direct bearing on the "industry vs. Napster VCs" case that was recently brought.

  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <splisken06@@@email...com> on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:30PM (#5810786)
    What else has federal judge Stephen Wilson decided before this? Anything else of note?
  • Their Thoughts... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:31PM (#5810802)
    "Oh, we can't sue the software? Better concentrate on the actual individuals.
    How's goes the battle to weaken privacy laws via DMC? [slashdot.org]"
  • Deniability? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nyet ( 19118 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:32PM (#5810805) Homepage
    The crux of the ruling seems to stem from the inherent deniability of the gnutella proto...

    i.e. the plaintiffs could NOT prove contributory infringment, unlike in the Napster case.

    All in all, a very interesting precedent is set, especially in light of Freenet.
    • Re:Deniability? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:02PM (#5811099) Homepage Journal
      Its not deniability, but control. Contributory infringement requires that they know about the infringement when they can do something about it. Napster could have shut down its network at any time, or blocked searches/transfers of copyrighted files, but it didnt, so they were guilty of contributory infringement. If all the gnutella/fasttrack client writers shut down all their servers it wouldnt affect the networks at all. They have no control over what the users are doing any more, so they arent contributing to the infringement.
    • Firstly, IANAL - but I do watch this stuff closely:

      The crux of the ruling seems to stem from the inherent deniability of the gnutella proto... i.e. the plaintiffs could NOT prove contributory infringment, unlike in the Napster case.

      Exactly, if the defendants can't stop it - then they can't be blamed for it. If this holds true for Fasttrack and Gnutella, then it definitely holds true for Freenet.

      If this decision is not overturned, then it will create even greater incentive for the RIAA to go after in

  • by Kanon ( 152815 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:35PM (#5810832)
    Someone buy that judge a hooker. He's earned it. :)
  • by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:35PM (#5810837) Journal
    Does the little guy feel it get warmer? If they can't kill the makers of the weapon -- they will now turn their resources to the people pulling the trigger. I personally think that the last good music sharing system died with Audio Galaxy. (*nix client anyone). I wont get caught dead using Kazzaa. (Not because I think using Kazzaa is wrong, but rather the OS that it runs on is against my perverted rule set.) And since AG and Napster went down, any client audio/video sharing available for *nix does not have enough users or mass to go beyond top 40. I personally was more interested in music that never made it to CD in the US, and the imports were to expensive or not in the Catalog anymore.
  • by crankyspice ( 63953 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:36PM (#5810841)
    As KaZaA has proven it can shut clients out of the network (when it turned off the original Morpheus client), it runs afoul of the court's language in this opinion (IMHO), as by controlling that network they make a material contribution to the infringing activity. Now, all the RIAA or MPAA has to do is start issuing "realtime C&D letters" (if such a thing exists and technologically, there's no reason why it couldn't) to satisfy the "knowledge" prong of the contributory infringement test... It's a pretty good roadmap for how to go after KaZaA successfully, though it's also an interesting "vindication" (right word?) of Gnutella, etc.

    Discuss? [64.36.16.250]
    • KaZaA has proven it can shut clients out of the network (when it turned off the original Morpheus client)

      Only by changing the protocol stack. They were able to make a client they did not write, not work with theirs. They cannot selectively turn off individual users. They basically rewrote KaZaa, and made everyone upgrade. That's Hardly "controlling that network" The original Morpheus clients could still talk to each other, but not supernodes, so that really didn't help them much.
  • by ianjk ( 604032 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:36PM (#5810844)
    And what about the internet, they use it as a tool in pirating software, they should sue it too!
  • by HalfStarted ( 639977 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:37PM (#5810863) Journal
    Other than the low quality... a PDF of a scanned fax apparently, it is a good read, not nearly as hard a read as some other court documents I have had a look at. One of the most important quotes from the ruling in my opinion is "Here, it is undisputed that there are substantial noninfringing uses for Defendants' software..." pg.11 ln.16 to me this is basically affirming the right of p2p networks and technologies in general to exist. Hopefully this works its way around and is used against the MPAA's and RIAA's efforts to lobby for technology controls.
  • by smd4985 ( 203677 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:38PM (#5810868) Homepage
    first destruction of the Death Star in 'A New Hope'.

    As a developer of open-source Gnutella software, I know we have a long ways to go to make p2p as ubiquitous and revolutionary as it can be, but not having legal concerns is a huge relief. I think this ruling will convince the RIAA to offer competing services instead of trying to maintain their unjust monopoly on music distribution. It will also make them go after individual users, which isn't good in general but a better strategy than attacking technology.

    This ruling is very similar to Linus' recent views on DRM - don't build policy into technology, because you might disable good uses as well as the bad.
  • VCR Analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jstrain ( 648252 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:40PM (#5810893)
    While it is nice to see a victory against the RIAA, I was struck by the analogy given by the judge.

    "Grokster and Streamcast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights."

    While I don't want to get into a debate about the ethics of file sharing (I use it on occasion), this seems like poor analogy for two reasons.

    First, both tools can be used in the same way, but file sharing apps provide for widespread distribution of content. Generally speaking, VCRs don't have such a far reaching capability.

    Second, there are certainly valid uses for file sharing apps, it is difficult to argue that they aren't mainly used for copyrighted material that you have not paid for. VCRs on the other hand, often used for simply watching something at a different time (you are out when a particular program is being aired), or you are taping something you have a right to view (you pay for cable, and are taping a program or movie that you have paid for access to).

    Again, I don't want to start another huge debate, but it seems to be an ill fitting analogy given the circumstances.
    • Re:VCR Analogy (Score:5, Informative)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:00PM (#5811080) Homepage Journal
      "First, both tools can be used in the same way, but file sharing apps provide for widespread distribution of content. Generally speaking, VCRs don't have such a far reaching capability."

      I don't think the point had to do with distribution, it had to do with the legality of using a VCR. There's plenty of legal things you can do with a VCR even though it can be used to violate copyrights.

      As for the VCR being a tool for distribution, it kind of matters how you look at it. Somebody could tape Star Wars off the TV and resell that movie to make money. They'd be encouraged to do so as long as they're making money. With the internet and P2P, there's no real satisfaction towards sharing because you get no money out of it. It's just part of the network. It kinda balances out when you think of it that way. The distribution of it's not as bad as the making money from it. Then there's the whole matter of whether or not the other side is downloading it legally or not. (I.e. what if I'm downloading an Mp3 from a CD I have?)

      " VCRs on the other hand, often used for simply watching something at a different time..."

      That's part of it, but there's also the archival part of it. That's what got Jack Valenti all upset. He was worried about people making libraries of tapes and then selling them to each other. Time shifting is no longer time shifting when you mean for the tape to permenantly store that content. Then you really have made a copy, and since you didn't pay for it you're in trouble.

      Stupid, iddnt it? Good thing the courts ruled in consumer's favor over it.
  • by rossjudson ( 97786 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:41PM (#5810900) Homepage
    We could all do the world a favor if we really, truly start using the P2P systems of the world as a general repository for information. Find some public domain stuff and share it. The more we do this, the more evidence there is of "substantial noninfringing use".

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:42PM (#5810912) Homepage Journal
    Did hell just freeze over?

    Of course the costly litigation will continue and there will be chances of many overturns..

    But its a good start..
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @02:43PM (#5810923) Homepage Journal
    ... that Morpheus had search options that make sense for a legit service. It wasn't a straight MP3 service like Napster, you could find pretty much any type of file intelligently there. I even fired up Kazaa once so I could find a Linux distro.

    No idea if those details made it into the courtroom or not, but it's really not such a hard sell when you use Morpheus to find stuff.
    • No idea if those details made it into the courtroom or not

      Rest assured, they did. I've read the amicus briefs on this case, and the many declarations. As they're public documents, I can make them available if anyone's interested [64.36.16.250].
  • by MarkLR ( 236125 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:11PM (#5811169)
    The judge said that the music companies cannot go after the people that provide the tools that might be used for trading music. The implication is to go after the people that use the tools for trading music. Expect to see a lot more students and other people who trade music to be sued - even more so now that ISPs have to give up their names.
  • by doogieh ( 37062 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:20PM (#5811243) Homepage
    While Grokster ain't liable as a contributory copyright infringer, the case wasn't dismissed. Other claims still loom.

    Nonetheless, it is a good ruling and shows some of the C.D. Cal judges like Judge Wilson, much like Judge Patel in N.D. Cal, really "get it."

  • by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:41PM (#5811417)
    It seems like with every "RIAA blames file-sharing programs for piracy" article a boatload of geeks start making the absurd "well I guess knife manufacturers should be sued because people can use knifes to kill!" statements.

    Here's my take on it:

    With things like knives, crowbars, and other items that may be used to commit crimes, it's fairly obvious even to the common man that an overwhelming majority of people use these items in legal ways rather than illegal ways. After all, we all pretty much use knives every day (to eat with, cut various items, etc.), and there are only so many knife-related murders in a year. By simple logic we can be sure that knives are being used by the majority of people in ways that DON'T relate to hurting or killing other people, since there would be an astronomical number of knife crimes if that were the case.

    Now as far as filesharing clients are concerned, it's pretty obvious to even the most technologically dense person that these programs are primarily used to illegally share materials. For one thing, if what you're sharing is legal, there's always some place you can host it: music can be freely hosted on MP3.com, text files/information on your free Geocities webpage, everything else on those Internet hard drive sites, and so on.

    Yeah I know, there's going to be 100 replies to me saying "that's not true! I share Linux ISOs!" (as if you can't just download them from a host of mirror sites). Whatever. Collectively, it's pretty damn obvious that filesharing programs are being used to share things you can't share legally. They're just like head shops. Oh yeah, they sell "water pipes" for "smoking tobacco". Right. Cover your ass, I guess.

    Either way, don't be surprised that the RIAA has gone after filesharing programs. Don't kid yourself. They're being used to trade copyrighted material. You know it. They know it. They don't like it, and honestly I can't blame them for wanting to get rid of what basically is a black market where their goods are exchanged freely and to millions of people.

    You guys blew it. I remember years ago, before MP3s were ever popular. The RIAA probably knew about them, but didn't care. It was kept under control. Then Napster came along, and everyone and their brother was grabbing thousands of songs as fast as they could. I mean damn, it's gotten to the point where dumb fratboys who don't know squat about computers are able to get warez and MP3s easily, where it once took patience, IRC know-how, and knowing the right people. It's gone too far, and now the RIAA is getting pissed. You guys blew it, don't be surprised about what's happening.
    • by pi_rules ( 123171 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @10:54PM (#5813612)
      It's gone too far, and now the RIAA is getting pissed. You guys blew it, don't be surprised about what's happening.


      Actually, in my opinion the RIAA blew it. I remember the hay-day of Napster, and I was an avid user of it; or rather my computer was an avid user of it. Around 1998 or so, when i'd leach MP3's from FTP sites I -dreamt- of a service that would let me download one for 75 cents a copy. That would have been great -- if I got 2MB out of a 4MB song I was pissed when it went down becuase I'm on dialup. It was horrid trying to get stuff. Strangely enough it was still less hassle because I was located 30 mins. away from the nearest CD store.

      Back to my avid use of Napster -- it was primarily for parties. I had a good DSL connection in my apartment and my roomate was another techie who got a kick out of making things easy to use. I made them work, he made them easy. We rigged up a network in the apartment with a decent fileserver and kept all of our media files on there. Many of which we legally owned mind you. We'd get 10-15 people in our apartment though hanging out and partying some weekends and they'd kick up Napster to find a song they wanted to play and download it. It was faster than them getting the CD from their car and having it ripped too. Doing that would have interrupted the playback of whatever else was going on. My roomate rigged up some IR software and stuff that I made work with the XMMS+Linux playback machine and it was like the ultimate whatever-you-want jukebox. Pretty slick.

      Yeah, it was illegal -- sort of. I'd imagine if the RIAA busted in somebody in the room probably owned the CD to whatever we were playing. Songs were kept on disk, usually only played back when the same group of people came around. I don't like being illegal, so I would have GLADLY paid a fee to download popular tracks. I still would. There's a slew of singles I'd like to get right now that I have in my head but I'm sure as hell not going to pay $12 bucks a piece for their CDs and drive out to get them and rip them myself.

      Since Napster? Well, somebody goes out to their car and gets the CD and we rip a few tracks and toss it into the playlist. No increased revenue for the RIAA and more pain in the ass for me. They're losing business. It's been said before, but the RIAA doesn't need to squash MP3's, they need to embrace them, and offer them at a price. I'm all for it.
  • by vDave420 ( 649776 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:44PM (#5811451)
    ...The basis for the decision appears to be the distinction that these "true p2p networks" do not rely on central index servers run from that companies computers.

    In addition, the momentary potential for liability existed when the software was transferred from the Company to the User, and then if the Company should have reason to believe that the user will use it for infringing uses. As this information is not available to the Company at the time of software transfer to the User, they were not liable.

    Furthurmore, liability does not exist because "those comanies could shut their doors and turn off their computers, and the respective etworks would still work fine."

    Quoting from the judgement
    "Napster possessed the ability to monitor and control its network, and routinely exercised its ability to exclude particular users from it. id. In a virtual sense, the "premises" of the infringement were the Napster network i teelf and Napster had a duty to exercise its reserved right and ability to police those premises to the fullest extent possible- The client software was an essential component of the integrated Napster system, and Napster s obligation to police necessarily extended to the client software itself. Such is not the case here- Defendants provide software that communicates across networks that are entirely outside Defendants control.

    Another *very important* point:
    Although it may be possible that a new version of morpheus could have been written (by streamcast) that excluded the ability to locate files with a given fingerprint (a given SHA1, for instance), they would not be required to do so as the content was not being indexed or hosted via that Company's systems.

    To quote again:
    "However, whether these safeguards are practicable is immaterial to this analysis, as the obligation to \\police" arises only where a defendant has the "right and abilityfl to supervise the infrinqing conduc t . See NaDster , 239 F. 3d at 1023; Fonovisa , 76 F. 3d at 262. Plaintiffs' argument - that Defendants could do more to limit the functionali ty of their software with respect to copyrighted works forgets the critical distinction, broached above, between the Napster systemH and the software distributed by Defendants."

    In the case of Grokster , the network is the propriety FastTrack network, which is clearly not controlled by Defendant Grokster. In the case of StreamCast, the network is Gnutella , the open- source nature of which apparently places it outside the control of any single entity."

    This is an important decision, which could affect the path of p2p development, and my personal livelihood.
    Once again, a very satisfied and relieved
    -dave-

    Get yourself a legitimate high-preformance Gnutella client here!! [bearshare.com]

  • by Valiss ( 463641 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:51PM (#5811521) Homepage
    From: http://www.europemedia.net/shownews.asp?ArticleID= 15970

    "On what appears to be the eve of her scoring an 11th number one hit in UK, Madonna has a simple question for those more interested in trading her song, 'American Life', online, rather than sending it to the top of the retail charts: 'What the f--- do you think you're doing?'"

  • by 13palindrome37 ( 667642 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @03:52PM (#5811534)
    Has anyone ever thought of suing Sony for contributory copyright infringement? I was floored by an endcap display of their products (mp3 players, cd-burners) at Frys. The big sign above the display said: "Download, burn, listen." Something like that. And yet here they are suing everyone else for using the electronics they are trying to sell by encouraging you to dl music. Of course they don't specify that you should be downloading from some legitimate pay service.
  • I love this quote: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Genjurosan ( 601032 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @04:05PM (#5811670)
    "We feel strongly that those who encourage, facilitate and profit from piracy should be held accountable for actions," MPAA spokeswoman Marta Grutka said. "We're hoping that people aren't taking this as an invitation to continue along the path of what is clearly illegal activity."

    If we lived by these laws all the time, then producers of guns, cars, knives, computers, software, etc.. etc.. etc.. should be liable.

    Picture this:

    Hypothetically speaking of course.. Let's say I purchase a gun and a knife with the intent to rob a bank. I purchase a car because at some point I need to get away from the scene. I purchase a computer and W1nd0ze because I need to download information about the area and how to plan my best escape route. Clearly then, the bank that I rob should sue all the producers of these goods because they are obviously encouraging, facilitating, and profiting from this piracy (robbing a bank is closer to the true meaning of the word), and they should be held accountable.

    Isn't this as ridiculous as fat people suing McD's because they just can't seem to stop eating?

    But in reality I purchased that gun to protect my family. The knife is to cut tomato's since I'm a chef, and the car takes me back and forth to work. The computer allows me to update my on-line cookbook and W1nd0ze just makes it so fun and friendly!

    I'm not an original pioneer, but I have to say it over since people like Marta Grutka can't make the connection.... All tools can be used for illegal purposes. Does that fact make it necessary to ban or allow suits of the makers of tools? Hell no!

    Down with RIAA and the MPAA!
  • by MarkRH ( 629597 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @04:06PM (#5811684) Homepage
    All this ruling means is that the corporations which make the software aren't liable for what the users use the software for. /. users don't represent the companies, you're THE USERS.

    And taken with the Verizon ruling (and you KNOW the RIAA will cite it) all this means is that the only people they can go after are you, the USERS.
  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @04:57PM (#5812054) Journal

    ...I'm sure I heard it...and it sounded just like Jack Valenti crying!
  • by solman ( 121604 ) on Friday April 25, 2003 @06:07PM (#5812501)
    I've read the court's opinion, and was quite surprised by what it said. If upheld, RIAA and MPAA will have NO LEGAL RECOURSE against decentralized file sharing intermediaries, under existing copyright law. MPAA and RIAA will have three choices:

    1. Pursue end users (a very expensive tactic of limited value, other than as a scare tactic).

    2. Incentivize end users to stop illeagally trading files, by offering reasonable alternatives (Hey, it worked with me. I'm a Rhapsody subscriber).

    3. Pursue new legislation that specifically outlaws providing clients to services such as Napster, Kazaa. (of questionable effectiveness)

    Despite some first amendment, and political obstacles, I think that the only reasonable business decision for the record and movie industries is option #3. Options 1 and 2 might provide some modest degree of mitigation to the erosion of industry revenues, but only option 3 has the potential to address the issue head on.

    As much as I hate the notion of more regulation on this issue, I think that from a business perspective the RIAA and MPAA need to immediately beseige capital hill. Waiting for the appeal before doing so would be suicidal.

    This means that we have to be ready to counter any such effort.
  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @07:35AM (#5814318) Homepage Journal
    This is a slightly hollow victory. I've just read the judgement, and it seems that "Kazaa BV", who were also being prosecuted, went out of business and/or ceased defending the action, probably because they sold their license rights to Sharman Networld plc. Morpheus is now irrelevant, as they are part of the *truly* P2P network Gnutella.

    However, Grokster were 'let off the hook' by the court mainly because they do nothing but license the FastTrack software from Kazaa (Sharman) and have *no* access to its source code (I didn't know this), and so could do nothing to help prevent copyright infringement by its use. Furthermore, they apparently no longer operate any root supernodes, and just use Kazaa's. Kazaa operate these root supernodes AND have access to the sourcecode for the client, which could (sigh) be used the cripple the product and use 1001 ways to try and identify a copyrighted work and prevent it from being shared. We could see a lawsuit against Sharman Networks in the future, and if Kazaa goes down, so does Grokster (which I think is a shame because FastTrack is a fantastic network design). Morpheus (or StreamCast) should no longer be considered in the same group; it's just a Gnutella client.

    If they made the code opensource, and allowed public lists of supernodes to be published, then they'd have an unbreakable (as Gnutella) P2P network with a much better, more efficient design! Alas, I suspect that the kind of money they're making from ad revenues will prevent this, and ultimately they're more likely to go down the ultra-censorship route if forced to by the courts.

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

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