Huge: Grokster not liable

Via Reuters: In a major defeat to film and record companies, a federal appeals court on Thursday ruled several Internet file-sharing software companies are not liable for copyright infringement for digital video and music files traded online utilizing their programs. Let’s hope Congress takes note. This is what the INDUCE Act is all about.

UPDATE: Tim Wu at Larry Lessig’s blog lists 7 reasons why this case will end up in the Supreme Court.

1. These is a stated legal conflict on the Sony standard as between the 7th and 9th Circuits;
2. The 7th and 9th Circuits disagree (albeit in partially in dicta) on the relevance of willful blindness to secondary liability;
3. The Court has these matters in hand: it has granted cert. in many similar cases historically (Sony, 1980s, White-Smith (the Piano Roll case) 1909, Teleprompter and Fortnightly (Cable / Broadcast, 1960s & 1970s);
4. The Court has a vague sense that some far-out stuff is going on in the field of “Computer Law” that maybe it should check out;
5. Law clerks use P2P technology to plan basketball games;
6. JJs. Stevens and Breyer deeply dig this stuff;

And most importantly,

7. The Court loves to be the center of attention, and this would make it so.

UPDATE:Tim changed the 10 reasons to 7, so I’ve updated the list.


  1. Matt C. Wilson says

    The Ninth Circuit, of course. I get the feeling this is just going to raise the hackles of the already hostile camp who sees the 9th as far left judicial activists. It’s good news, but it would be even better coming from a separate court as well.

  2. Good point, Matt. I hope this is upheld by a different court. Most people see the 9th Circuit as “those take-God-out-of-the-Pledge wackos.”

  3. I like the idea of record companies being forced to sue individual offenders rather than peer-to-peer networks. It only makes sense.

  4. Matt C. Wilson says

    Wow, nice update Terry. What happened to point 3? 🙂

    “Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.”

    Actually, point four is my favorite point — I really hope this case continues the trend.

  5. I’ve updated the list. Point four is now point three. 🙂

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