US file sharing ruling music to industry's ears

The US Supreme Court has handed film studios and the music industry a victory against file swapping companies in a ruling that holds peer-to-peer firms such as Grokster and Morpheus responsible for copyright piracy on their networks.

The US Supreme Court has handed film studios and the music industry a victory against file swapping companies in a ruling that holds peer-to-peer firms such as Grokster and Morpheus responsible for copyright piracy on their networks.

In a unanimous decision, the nine judges said file swapping companies encouraged copyright infringement and should be held liable for their customers’ illegal actions.

The ruling will give the music industry and Hollywood the ammunition it wanted to file lawsuits against the file-swapping companies. It will also be a boon for the likes of Apple, which is already making a fortune from legal music downloads with its iTunes service.

The matter will now be settled with actions in the lower courts in the US,  which had previously maintained that file swapping companies were not liable for copyright infringement.

Mark Rhys-Jones, IT litigation expert at law firm Eversheds, said, “The UK has already shown it is not afraid to prosecute individuals who file-share. This case should therefore act as a timely reminder for all companies to keep an eye on what employees use the internet for. Companies could find themselves unwittingly dragged into court proceedings if their employees are illegally file-sharing.”  

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