Los Angeles (November 10, 2004)–The Recording Academy has filed a petition to the Supreme Court of the U.S. to hear the MGM Studios, Inc., et al, v. Grokster, Ltd., et al. case, with the support of various music maker and artists’ rights organizations. At the same time, StreamCast Networks and Grokster Ltd., developers of the Morpheus and Grokster P2P file-sharing software products, have filed a joint brief urging the Supreme Court to leave undisturbed the landmark MGM v. Grokster ruling handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year.
The Recording Academy’s petition is supported by organizations such as the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Country Music Association (CMA), Gospel Music Association (GMA), Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, Jazz Alliance International, and the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. The entertainment companies have been seeking to hold StreamCast and Grokster liable for copyright infringements committed by users of their software.
The coalition has asked the Supreme Court to hear the case for which a lower court’s ruling in favor of the file-sharing software company shielded Grokster and other such services from responsibility for their customers’ use of the products. In its petition, the Academy argued that this is a case of national importance, due to the prevalence of illegal copying on these services, and that those affected include not just the petitioners (entertainment industry companies), but also millions of individual music makers who must support themselves by selling their music. The Academy also argued that the lower court misinterpreted the landmark 1984 “Sony Betamax case” by applying it to a new technology that has virtually no non-infringing commercial value.
“Although many think of music makers as a hugely successful and well-to-do group of artists,” said Neil Portnow, president, The Recording Academy, “in reality, most of those within the creative community lead a humble and challenging existence and depend on being paid for their work–just like everyone else–in order to survive.”
The petition states, “it is those individuals and their ability to earn a living from their creative endeavors that the copyright laws are designed to protect for the benefit of our society.”
StreamCast and Grokster argue that the Ninth Circuit correctly applied the rule set out by the Supreme Court 20 years ago in the Sony v. Universal case (also known as the “Sony Betamax” case) that protects technologies with non-infringing uses. There are also those who believe that changes to copyright law as a result of new P2P technologies is a job best left to Congress, not the courts.
“We wholeheartedly agree with Circuit Judge Thomas’ opinion,” stated Michael Weiss, CEO of StreamCast Networks. Judge Thomas wrote, “History has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine, or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude.”
The Recording Academy