A US Supreme Court has ruled file sharing networks are liable for copyright infringement performed by those using their services.
Monday’s court decision in the MGM vs. Grokster case states file sharing software encourages users to illegally distribute copyrighted material on the internet.
“We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties,” said Justice David Souter.
As a result, services such as Grokster and Limewire can be sued for copyright infringement.
In earlier cases, programs such as Grokster were compared to VCRs, something that provides a medium of exchange.
The entertainment industry sees this announcement as a major win in its fight against illegal music and movie downloaders.
However, the ruling comes as a blow to groups who support peer-to-peer file sharing.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Parliament is working on its own law to address digital copyright issues – Bill C-60. If passed, the law calls for users, not service providers, to be liable for copyright infringement.
Look for more news on Bill C-60 after the Parliament’s summer recess in the fall.