Not a huge surprise, given earlier reports, but the press is reporting that Grokster has shut down, following the controversial Supreme Court ruling. The press account is a little bit inaccurate. While it claims that the firm has completely shut down, the Grokster website indicates they're about to open up another "legal" offering shortly. Of course, we've heard that story before a few times and it usually doesn't amount to much. Anyway, there are a few other things that aren't clearly explained. First, does this mean that Grokster no longer works? One of the main points people always talked about concerning Grokster was that it was decentralized and didn't need the company to exist to work. Is that so? I've never used Grokster or any related file sharing system, so I have no way to check. Second, the text on Grokster's website is misleading, at best. It says: "The United States Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that using this service to trade copyrighted material is illegal..." That's actually not what the Supreme Court said at all. The court sent the case back to the lower court, saying that some vague inducement test could be used to put liability on Grokster and others -- but only if they were seen to have actively encouraged copyright violations (something they very well might have done). They didn't say that the service itself was illegal. In fact, you could claim that a new file sharing service, that does exactly what Grokster does, but while encouraging people not to share copyright materials would pass muster with this new test and be perfectly legal. So, it seems likely that the text on the website was actually written by the entertainment industry, who has been pretending the Supreme Court said what it didn't say all along. It's likely that folks in the industry will be celebrating -- but all it really means is that those who file share will have just shifted to another system, further underground that'll be harder to track down.
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