Live Blogging: Is Grokster Ruling Just?

Posted in copyright by coda on October 14, 2009

Fair – what have we subscribed to in our democratic society, with reference to Copyright Law?
Intermediaries have a responsibility:
In the UK we have a provision: section 16 Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Liability is based on “authorisation”
There needs to be some level of culpability.
In the Australian Kazaa case the respondents were held liable for authorising copyright infringement – “Join the Revolution”!:
” (i) despite the fact that the Kazaa website contains warnings against the sharing of copyright files, and an end user licence agreement under which users are made to agree not to infringe copyright, it has long been obvious that those measures are ineffective to prevent, or even substantially to curtail, copyright infringements by users. The respondents have long known that the Kazaa system is widely used for the sharing of copyright files;
(ii) there are technical measures (keyword filtering and gold file flood filtering) that would enable the respondents to curtail – although probably not totally to prevent – the sharing of copyright files. The respondents have not taken any action to implement those measures. It would be against their financial interest to do so. It is in the respondents’ financial interest to maximise, not to minimise, music file-sharing. Advertising provides the bulk of the revenue earned by the Kazaa system, which revenue is shared between Sharman Networks and Altnet.
(iii) far from taking steps that are likely effectively to curtail copyright file-sharing, Sharman Networks and Altnet have included on the Kazaa website exhortations to users to increase their file-sharing and a webpage headed ‘Join the Revolution’ that criticises record companies for opposing peer-to-peer file-sharing. They also sponsored a ‘Kazaa Revolution’ campaign attacking the record companies. The revolutionary material does not expressly advocate the sharing of copyright files. However, to a young audience, and it seems that Kazaa users are predominantly young people, the effect of this webpage would be to encourage visitors to think it ‘cool’ to defy the record companies by ignoring copyright constraints.

A question arose as to the form of relief that might be made against the six respondents that I hold to have authorised infringement of the applicants’ copyright. The applicants are entitled to declarations as to past violations of their rights and the threat of future violations. They are also entitled to an order restraining future violations. However, I have had to bear in mind the possibility that, even with the best will in the world, the respondents probably cannot totally prevent copyright infringement by users. I am anxious not to make an order which the respondents are not able to obey, except at the unacceptable cost of preventing the sharing even of files which do not infringe the applicants’ copyright. There needs to be an opportunity for the relevant respondents to modify the Kazaa system in a targeted way, so as to protect the applicants’ copyright interests (as far as possible) but without unnecessarily intruding on others’ freedom of speech and communication. The evidence about keyword filtering and gold file flood filtering, indicates how this might be done. It should be provided that the injunctive order will be satisfied if the respondents take either of these steps. The steps, in my judgment, are available to the respondents and likely significantly, though perhaps not totally, to protect the applicants’ copyrights.”


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