Streamcast Heading Back To Write The Latest Chapter In The Grokster Supreme Court Ruling
from the it-ain't-over-'til-the-judge-says-so dept
Nearly two years ago, when the Supreme Court came out with its ruling in the MGM v. Grokster case, many people simply assumed that that was the end of it — and the Supreme Court had shut the file sharing companies down. Certainly, that’s what the folks at the RIAA wanted everyone to believe — even publicly saying that the Court ruled in a way it absolutely did not. The Court never said that Grokster and other file sharing apps were illegal. It simply said that if they were found to be actively inducing unauthorized file sharing then they could be sued for infringement as well. That’s a pretty big “if.” While many other file sharing networks figured it wasn’t worth the fight and shut down, Streamcast decided to keep up the fight. Unfortunately for Streamcast, the lower court judge found that, indeed, Streamcast was guilty of infringement by actively inducing unauthorized file sharing.
Brian Deagon, from Investors Business Daily, writes in to point to his own article about the next step in the case, where Morpheus returns to court later this month to argue with the RIAA over what happens next. The judge clearly wants the two sides to work out a settlement (one that either kills Streamcast or forces them to be an RIAA-sanctioned software provider, which is effectively the same thing as killing Streamcast). If not, apparently the judge will mandate what kind of filtering solution Streamcast must use in its file sharing application. While Deagon’s article quotes EFFites like Fred von Lohmann worrying about what kind of precedent it sets for a judge to be picking the technological solution, it’s certainly not a first for this kind of thing.
Back in 2001, the judge in the Napster case forced Napster to put in place filters, which were completely useless. In the summer of 2005, a judge imposed similar restrictions on Kazaa, who started blocking thousands of songs — which people also quickly discovered to be useless. In both cases, the effective result was the same. Soon afterwards, the regular free file-sharing app was forced to shut down completely as the filters served no purpose, and both tried to resurrect the brand as a “legitimate” music download service with the blessing of the RIAA. Yet, as a separate sidebar from Deagon notes, neither resulted in any reduction in unauthorized file sharing. In fact, it just keeps on growing. So, while Streamcast may be relegated to the dustbin of P2P history, it’s not as though it has any real impact on the issue — though, we’re sure that the RIAA will grandstand about how it’s their latest “significant blow” against piracy.