June 27, 2005 12:14 PM PDT

Readers: P2P ruling will spark lawsuit rush

The Supreme Court's ruling that peer-to-peer companies can be held responsible for copyright infringement by their customers drew swift response from CNET News.com readers.

Many called the court's logic flawed and expressed concern that the decision would unleash a flurry of lawsuits against software makers.

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"Say farewell to the high-tech industry," a reader who goes by the name T Oad wrote in the TalkBack section of the story. "Say goodbye to Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Sun, HP, Dell, Cisco, Seagate and on and on. You all make products that are used to violate copyrights. Whether it's a document or a photo or a sound file, anyone who owns anything protected by copyright now has the right to sue you till your wallets are empty. And sue you they will. The courts are about to become inundated with lawsuits against technology providers of all stripes."

Another reader, who uses the nickname Anon Ymouse, expressed similar fears. "I'm not against suing those that actually systematically infringe and make a profit at it, but now we're all going to suffer a very tedious and expensive legal morass that ultimately will produce nothing but cost to taxpayers and further alienation of the consumer by the media industries. Everyone loses."

But others urged fellow readers not to overreact. "This is not 'goodbye high-tech.' This is not 'Sony Betamax overturned.' This is not 'sellout to the largest companies,'" read one comment. "This means that someone has to make the software with the clear intent of promoting copyright infringement."

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File-swap fallout
Read all of News.com's stories on the Supreme Court's landmark decision and how it affects companies such as Grokster.
The high court handed movie studios and record labels a sweeping victory against file-swapping with its unanimous decision that companies such as Grokster could be held responsible for the copyright piracy on their networks.

The decision comes as a strong victory for copyright companies and stands to reshape an Internet landscape in which file swapping has become commonplace.

But with the ruling just announced, it will likely take the public some time to make sense of the implications. "With this ruling, does this not open the door for them to say that ISPs will be held responsible for any actions a user does online?" asked a reader who goes by the name Onehop Support.

Someone else wanted to know: "Will we see charges against big companies, or is this just the continued witch-hunt for the file swapping companies?"

A reader nicknamed John Doe had strong words for those who were quick to slam the decision. "What you are missing is that this was a full sweep, 9-0 in favor," the reader wrote. "I really want to read the rulings because there has to be some serious justification as to why EVERYONE sided with MGM."

John Doe also suggested the decision would ultimately work against companies seeking to copyright their works.

"You actually think this is going to stop anything? If anything, it's going to drive people to get encrypted decentralized P2P up and running even faster. RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) can't sue who they can't find."

But reader Brian Snider applauded the ruling.

"As a paying customer, this sounds good to me," he wrote. "I can't believe the number of thieves out there who feel entitled to their stolen warez...mind boggling."

8 comments

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Can this be used to sue whoever uses DRM on creative commons stuff?
Can this be used to sue whoever uses DRM on creative commons stuff? After all, if the copyright owner explicitly states that her work may be copied on certain terms, then whoever makes DRM software/hardware that does not allow copying excatly as she wishes is denying this copyright holder her right to determine how her work can be used. So the maker of the DRM technology should be liable...
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They have to prove intent
From what I know in the legal community, it's rather hard to prove intent on something like this. Let's take for instance, bittorrent, and Azureus, a popular bittorrent software client. Both of these allow the transfer of protected media, however, how will you prove that they intended for this software to be used to transfer pirated warez and media? I happen to use these technologies to share things that I've created, why should these companies be made to suffer because of a few(lol) bad apples?
Posted by (9 comments )
Link Flag
Well
Well that is a bit of a grey area.

Considering DRM doesnt actually prevent them from distributing their work, it only prevents people from playing it back without the proper software, I doubt it would be deemed illegal.

However removing the DRM is illegal even if the author specifically allows it since that would violate the DMCA.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
Can this be used to sue whoever uses DRM on creative commons stuff?
Can this be used to sue whoever uses DRM on creative commons stuff? After all, if the copyright owner explicitly states that her work may be copied on certain terms, then whoever makes DRM software/hardware that does not allow copying excatly as she wishes is denying this copyright holder her right to determine how her work can be used. So the maker of the DRM technology should be liable...
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They have to prove intent
From what I know in the legal community, it's rather hard to prove intent on something like this. Let's take for instance, bittorrent, and Azureus, a popular bittorrent software client. Both of these allow the transfer of protected media, however, how will you prove that they intended for this software to be used to transfer pirated warez and media? I happen to use these technologies to share things that I've created, why should these companies be made to suffer because of a few(lol) bad apples?
Posted by (9 comments )
Link Flag
Well
Well that is a bit of a grey area.

Considering DRM doesnt actually prevent them from distributing their work, it only prevents people from playing it back without the proper software, I doubt it would be deemed illegal.

However removing the DRM is illegal even if the author specifically allows it since that would violate the DMCA.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
A tangent Opinion
If sharing of information i.e.- music, video, software, is covered by this ruling, what about companies that not only share but make a profit off of our personal data? Who is going to hold them accountable? Can I sue them? I think not! As I stated in the subject line, this is only tangently related to this story, but the story brought it to mind. And what about the Mickey Mouse extensions to copyright law? All three areas are related.
Posted by EricTheO (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A tangent Opinion
If sharing of information i.e.- music, video, software, is covered by this ruling, what about companies that not only share but make a profit off of our personal data? Who is going to hold them accountable? Can I sue them? I think not! As I stated in the subject line, this is only tangently related to this story, but the story brought it to mind. And what about the Mickey Mouse extensions to copyright law? All three areas are related.
Posted by EricTheO (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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