Appeals Court Upholds Legality of File-Sharing Programs
Appeals Court Upholds Legality of File-Sharing ProgramsA federal appeals court has upheld an earlier court ruling that peer-to-peer file-sharing software programs such as Grokster or Morpheus are legal. MGM Studios and 27 other entertainment companies had sued the software firms for copyright infringement, charging that their file-sharing networks were forums for large-scale piracy.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles said August 19 that the companies are not liable for copyright violations committed by users of their software products, since they had no ability to control the users’ behavior, the New York Times reported August 20. The decision upheld a ruling issued in April 2003 by a federal judge in Los Angeles.
“The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what they believe to be proper public policy,” the court wrote. “Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the copyright owners’ immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context.”
The American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association filed a friend-of-the-court brief last September on behalf of the file-sharing companies.
Posted August 20, 2004.