Grokster R.I.P.

grokster.gif The recent news of the Grokster settlement has generated only modest discussion, and I suppose that’s not surprising. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case came out months ago, and the big open questions left by that decision are unaffected by the settlement. Moreover, there appeared to be sufficient evidence in the record of “actual inducement” to make Grokster’s shut-down unsurprising.

Still, I would note that, according to the reports, the recording industry got Grokster to agree to pay $50 million in damages, even though they don’t expect to be able to collect. This gives the industry a big number it can use to deter future such technologies, and it’s consistent with the broader strategy of publicly signalling (through public announcements, lawsuits against end-users, education efforts, and even movie previews) that these activities are, in the industry’s view, infringing.

To some extent, this is the flip side of an earlier post I made about information regarding fair use rights. Just as some would like individuals to have greater information about their fair use rights, the copyright industries would like users to have greater information about the restrictions imposed by copyright. (Jason Mazzone has an interesting proposal about what to do when the industry overstates such restrictions).

All of this is to suggest that there seems to be a need to give individuals clearer and better information about what they can or can’t do under the copyright laws.

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1 Response

  1. anon says:

    What happens when technology advances to the point where its easy for someone to logon to a peer-to-peer and have their IP address affectively masked and/or secured?

    What happens when warez groups grow in size and force to create a decentralized network that indexes every piece of media, making them as accessible as i-Tunes? See

    Its an arms race that the consumer will ultimately win.

    Legal scholars must stop trying to pour old wine into new bottles The rise of the internet has brightly illuminated the failings of our country’s rotten intellecutal property regime. When something is rotten, its time to throw it away and start anew.

    Just today, we received new evidenced of the system’s rotten core, provided by SIPPA and AAAS. See