The Supreme Court heard a case yesterday that could irreparably alter the future of media distribution. MGM, serving as the figure-head of 28 media companies, have brought charges against file-sharing software distributors Grokster, Morpheus and Kazaa, stating that the products they produce have the primary function of facilitating copyright infringement. According to Variety, the Justices seemed at times "skeptical" of both sides, and by the end of the day it was unclear which way the verdict would swing.

The key to this case is the Supreme Court's 1984 Sony Betamax ruling, in which they declared that just because the Betamax recorder *could* be used to make illegal copies of copyright material, there were plenty of potentially legal uses for the device as well. This ruling set a precedent by which manufacturers of technology could not be held responsible for illegal actions taken by consumers involving that technology. MGM et. al, are basically seeking to rewrite that ruling to protect their own interests.

But hey - here at Cinematical, we just watch the moving pictures. So, in order to keep from mangling the legalese, here are a few useful links relating to the case, to get you up to speed and keep you up to date until the Court reaches a verdict.

  • The P2P blog is updating daily on the story - check their archives for more background information.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation is defending the makers of Morpheus. They've outlined the basics here.
  • "If Grokster loses, technological innovation might not die, but it will have such a significant price tag associated with it, it will be the domain of the big corporations only." Mark Cuban is paying for the defense. He explains why here.
tags mgm
categories Cinematical