Although MGM triumphed in its recent Supreme Court case against Grokster, its victory may prove to be a hollow one, some legal experts and peer-to-peer users believe.
The courts decision seems to severely curtail what file-sharing services and software will be allowed to do in the future, but such a reading of the decision is misleading, said Lawrence Solum, John E. Cribbet Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law.
“This is an unwelcome verdict for the industry, and a positive ruling for P2P,” he said. “It might be viewed as a tactical loss in the short run for Grokster, but its definitely a strategic victory for P2P in the long run.”
Solum observed that in its ruling, the high court sided with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. because Grokster Ltd. intentionally induced copyright infringement.
In issuing its decision based on that judgment, the court essentially provided a blueprint for other P2P companies looking to avoid litigation.
“The court laid out what should be avoided in internal memoranda and advertising,” Solum said. “With this information, P2P services and software developers can easily figure out how to immunize themselves from prosecution.”
Doug Lichtman, who penned an amicus brief on behalf of MGM, echoed the view that the recent ruling is not cause for celebration for those fighting Grokster and similar services.
“MGM won on paper today, but my first reading of the opinion makes me wonder whether the victory will have any bite outside this specific litigation,” Lichtman wrote on a legal community blog, Picker MobBlog. “Intent-based standards, after all, are among the easiest to avoid.”