A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Internet
file-trading networks can be held liable when their users copy music,
movies and other protected works without permission.
The justices set aside a U.S. appeals court ruling that the
peer-to-peer networks cannot be held liable for copyright infringement
because they can be used for legitimate purposes as well.
"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of
promoting its use to infringe copyright ... is liable for the
resulting acts of infringement by third parties," Justice David Souter
wrote for the court.
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Now wait a minute ... FTP is also a
'file trading scheme' is it not? Admittedly a bit longer to transfer
files, and perhaps sort of klutzy compared to the newer schemes, but
it is used to transfer files from one place to another, is it not?
And the Supreme Court ruled today that 'legitimate purposes' will not
be a good enough reason any longer. So point one, if I am willing to
spend hours or days downloading an illegal copy of a video from
somewhere via my FTP account, that means Cable One (or heck, even
mit.edu for example) can get sued for 'facilitating' the device (FTP)
which made the transfer possible? Or will FTP somehow be treated
'differently'? Point two, what about VCRs, tape recorders, and the
like: all have legitimate purposes, but the Supremes said today that
isn't good enough ... will they be treated 'differently' also? Point
three, what about when the _real villians_ in the eyes of the Music
and Film Industry _totally repudiate_ the transfer of 'illegal' files
and insist (on their web sites and elsewhere) that the only intended
purpose of their software (or devices) is to swap public domain
files and that they (the villians) totally repudiate the transfer of
illegal stuff. Might that be enough to prevent lawsuits; that in
combination with them inquiring 'why are we getting sued but MIT and
Harvard are _not_ getting sued (with their FTP stuff)?' PAT]