Grokster to the 9th Circuit

On Tuesday, lawyers for the entertainment industry will face off against attorneys for peer-to-peer operators Grokster and StreamCast Networks in front of a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California.

The plaintiffs, including more than 20 movie studios, music labels represented by the Recording Industry Association of America, and song writers and publishers from the National Music Publishers’ Association, hope to convince the court that the peer-to-peer services should be liable for copyright infringement occurring on their networks.

In April 2003, a U.S. district court in Los Angeles decided that Grokster and StreamCast Networks’ Morpheus were not liable. Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that, unlike the now-defunct Napster (which has re-emerged as a legal, paid music service), the peer-to-peer operators do not have direct control over the files swapped on their networks.

Without evidence of their active and substantial contribution to copyright infringement, Wilson wrote, the file-trading services — which also serve legally permitted purposes — cannot be held liable.

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