TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Sony Eyes Grokster Version Despite Court Ruling

Sony Eyes Grokster Version Despite Court Ruling

Lisa Minter (
Mon, 27 Jun 2005 20:54:32 -0500

By Derek Caney

Sony BMG's chief executive said on Monday the record label wants to
move forward with a legal version of the Grokster file sharing
service, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision that holds the service
and others like it responsible for the copyright infringement of its

The highest court in the United States set aside a lower court ruling
that Grokster and Morpheus, which allow millions of Internet users to
copy music and movies for free from each others' computers, were not
liable for infringement since the services could also be used for
legitimate purposes.

"I'm hopeful we will move forward with a legitimate version of
Grokster," Andy Lack, chief executive of Sony BMG Music Entertainment,
said in an interview. "It won't be called Grokster, and it certainly
won't be what Grokster is today," he added.

A Grokster spokesman said, "File sharing is not going away regardless
of today's developments so talks like this only make sense and
seemingly further validate its popularity in the marketplace."

Sony BMG's Lack said the ruling in the MGM vs. Grokster case would
open up opportunities for different technologies that use so called
peer-to-peer networks, which allow digital media files o be shared
between individual computer users without a centralized server.

"There's an opportunity to employ lots of different technologies that
legitimize these file sharing services," Lack said. "A lot of them
didn't want to come to the table until this ruling."

Asked if the ruling would lead to a rash of lawsuits against
peer-to-peer networks, he said, "If I were a lawyer representing those
clearly illegal services, I'd be advising my clients either make a
dramatic change in the way those companies are doing business or get
out of business."

Lack said the most striking aspects of the decision were that it was
unanimous and transparent. "Everyone on both sides of the debate -- be
it content companies or Grokster -- feared there would be no
clarity. The most challenging concern is that the decision would be
open to interpretation. This decision pre-empts that kind of debate."

Sony BMG, home to such artists as Bruce Springsteen and Britney
Spears, is working with several other technology companies to create a
legal file sharing network.

One such company, Snocap, makes software that can block unauthorized
songs from being copied through peer-to-peer services. The technology
is the latest venture of Shawn Fanning, who created Napster, the
grandfather of all peer-to-peer sites.

Sony BMG is also working with Mashboxx, a peer-to-peer network that
offers authorized songs for download. Its chief executive, Wayne
Rosso, is a founder of Grokster.

Sony BMG is a 50-50 joint venture between Japan's Sony Corp. and
Germany's Bertelsmann AG.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Did I read correctly earlier today that
the Supreme Court has stated even techologies for which legitimate
uses are available are not excused from lawsuits if they (the
technologies) are misused? PAT]

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