What a great week for a judge to rule that P2P client distribution is legal!
“A federal judge in Los Angeles has handed a stunning court victory to file-swapping services Streamcast Networks and Grokster, dismissing much of the record industry and movie studios’ lawsuit against the two companies.
In an almost complete reversal of previous victories for the record labels and movie studios, federal court Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that Streamcast–parent of the Morpheus software–and Grokster were not liable for copyright infringements that took place using their software. The ruling does not directly affect Kazaa, software distributed by Sharman Networks that has also been targeted by the entertainment industry.
“Defendants distribute and support software, the users of which can and do choose to employ it for both lawful and unlawful ends,” Wilson wrote in his opinion, released Friday. “Grokster and Streamcast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights.”
The court’s ruling applies only to existing versions of the Morpheus and Grokster software. Earlier versions of the software, which functioned slightly differently, could potentially leave the companies open to liability.”
However, the ruling appeared to state clearly that decentralized peer-to-peer software such as Gnutella is legal, in much the same way that the Sony VCR is protected by law. “