The case could have major implications for peer-to-peer technology, copyright holders and file-sharing practices that spread far beyond just the two companies targeted in the case, StreamCast Networks Inc. and Grokster Ltd. The court's ruling could also have a sweeping impact on how consumers listen to and watch digital media products. For the recording industry, it's the latest stop on the fast train ride it has been taking to blast file-swapping companies and to try to stop digital piracy in its tracks. File-sharing supporters, however, say they aren't liable for any illegal trades of copyrighted songs and movies by users of their software and worry that technology innovation will be stifled by a ruling against the networks and continued legal volleys by Hollywood.
The case "is the culmination of five years of legal battles against the peer-to-peer networks that entertainment companies believe are undermining the viability of copyrights," CNET's News.com declared. "Two federal courts have already ruled in favor of the file-swapping companies, saying that the software should be compared to a photocopying machine or a VCR -- that it has enough legal uses to protect the file-swapping companies. Record labels and movie studios dispute that idea, saying that Grokster and StreamCast, the parent of the Morpheus service, have deliberately built their business on the existence of widespread copyright infringement. They're asking the Supreme Court to rule that any company whose business is predominantly supported by piracy should be liable for that infringement."
But despite what the Supreme Court decides, the case will be far from over, with Congress and state lawmakers expected to continue to weigh in on the issue well into the future. Meantime, a number of rock stars and other notable musicians are latching onto the case to fight against illegal downloads of their music, while some independent musicians and smaller-scale performers often depend on the "viral marketing" they get from free music downloads of their work.
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Technorati Tag: technology