Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Analysis: What the ruling against Grokster really means

Filed under
Legal

As this morning's 55-page US Supreme Court decision in MGM v. Grokster has now had time to be fully disseminated and analyzed, consensus is taking shape that even peer-to-peer services not named in the lawsuit may find themselves in legal hot water very soon. By vacating a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and remanding the case back to that circuit, legal analysts told Tom's Hardware Guide, the high court may have made fuzzy what was once a clear interpretation of fair use law: specifically, the matter of secondary copyright infringement liability.

In short, states the syllabus, it may be impossible to sue millions of infringing downloaders, so a plaintiff's only alternative may be to argue that the software manufacturer contributed to those millions of alleged infringements by encouraging them, promoting them, or simply by doing nothing to stop them.

But the Court stopped short of finding Grokster and Streamcast, respectively, guilty of infringement, leaving that for the lower court to determine. "I think this puts emphasis on lower courts looking at the intent of the parties putting forth the software and the system

The Court basically issued a very vague and somewhat schizophrenic ruling about exactly what companies in the digital media space can and can't do." On the one hand, stated Schultz, the Court states that a P2P proprietor cannot encourage infringement; but on the other hand, the decision leaves it to others--perhaps the lower court--to determine what such encouragement entails.

"We're getting into shades of subjectivity, stated P2P United's Eisgrau, "that may well stretch the credulity [of courts] and the ability of courts to deal with. For a technology-driven economy, what you want is an environment in which innovators feel safe to innovate, and investors feel safe to invest in innovators. This opinion today, regrettably, is scary because it swapped that universe of relative certainty for a brave and alarming new world in which there is no such assurance and, in fact, quite the contrary, now I think the watchword for inventors has to be, 'Be afraid; be very afraid.'"

There are still a lot of questions left unanswered. This isn't the definitive word on this topic at all."

Full Analysis.

More in Tux Machines

Linux Kernel News

  • Linux: Why do people hate systemd?
    systemd has caused an almost unending amount of controversy in the Linux community. Some Linux users have been unyielding in their opposition to systemd, while others have been much more accepting. The topic of systemd came up in a recent thread in the Linux subreddit and the folks there did not pull any punches when sharing their thoughts about it.
  • PulseAudio 10.0 Linux Sound System Released, Offers OpenSSL 1.1.0 Compatibility
    Today, January 19, 2017, sees the official release of the PulseAudio 10.0 open-source sound server for Linux-based operating systems, a major version that introduces many exciting new features. PulseAudio 10.0 has been in development for the past seven months, since the June 22, 2016, release of PulseAudio 9.0, which is currently used by default in numerous GNU/Linux distributions.
  • Linux is part of the IoT security problem, dev tells Linux conference
    The Mirai botnet? Just the “tip of the iceberg” is how security bods at this week's linux.conf.au see the Internet of Things. Presenting to the Security and Privacy miniconf at linux.conf.au, embedded systems developer and consultant Christopher Biggs pointed out that Mirai's focus on building a big DDoS cannon drew attention away from the other risks posed by insecure cameras and digital video recorders.
  • The Linux Foundation Brings 3 New Open Source Events to China
    LinuxCon, ContainerCon, and CloudOpen will be held in China this year for the first time, The Linux Foundation announced this week. After the success of other Linux Foundation events in the country, including MesosCon Asia and Cloud Foundry Summit Asia, The Linux Foundation decided to offer its flagship LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen events in China as well, said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin. “Chinese developers and businesses have strongly embraced open source and are contributing significant amounts of code to a wide variety of projects,” Zemlin said. “We have heard the call to bring more open source events to China.”

Dell Has Sold ‘Tens of Millions’ Dollars’ Worth of Linux Laptops

So popular Linux personality Bryan Lunduke, who recently took an hour out to talk to Dell’s Senior Architect in the office of CTO — try saying that with a mouthful of doughnut — Barton George. What did he learn? Well, for one, Dell says it has ‘no plans’ to start shipping its Linux-powered developer laptops with anything other than Ubuntu. Read more

Open-source voting is the answer to hacking concerns

Will we ever have a voting system that is completely error-proof and impenetrable from malicious forces? Not likely. But the security breaches that are increasingly a part of daily life serve as a call to action. Every day brings a new report of hacking or suspicious activity, and increasingly with fingers pointing to international actors. Whether it is statewide voter registration databases (Illinois and Arizona; some say more); national party organizations (the Democratic National Committee); utilities (Vermont’s Burlington Electric); or Russia’s state-run television station (RT) suddenly interrupting C-SPAN last week — the incident is still under investigation and not confirmed as a hack — it is all very unsettling and leaves us feeling vulnerable. Read more

The Many, the Humble, the Ubuntu Users

I have never been much of a leading-edge computing person. In fact, I first got mildly famous online writing a weekly column titled “This Old PC” for Time/Life about making do with used gear — often by installing Linux on it — and after that an essentially identical column for Andover.net titled “Cheap Computing,” which was also about saving money in a world where most online computing columns seemed to be about getting you to spend until you had no money left to spend on food. Read more