Potentially good news from the US Supreme Court for the international music and film industries, but not immediately.
P2P file sharing sites will be liable for illegal downloading because there is enough evidence of unlawful intent, as a result of a ruling in the MGM vs. Grokster case. An Appeals Court decision, saying that P2P technologies can be put to legal use and can therefore not be held liable, was overturned. The Appeals Court referred to the famous 1984 Sony vs Universal City Studios case. Good news for content producers (Universal Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music, EMI; ) and legal sites (iTunes, Napster, Real NetWorks; CinemaNow, Movielink) as well. Still, this only means that cases against Grokster and StreamCast (Morpheus) can go ahead, with no guarantees as to the outcome. StreamCast seems confident of being able to show that Morpheus does not encourage copyright infringement.
The ruling comes hot on the heels of an OECD report, that concluded: “It is difficult to establish a basis to prove a causal relationship between the 20% fall in overall revenues experienced by the music industry between 1999 and 2003, but digital piracy may be an important impediment to the success of legitimate online content markets.“
Earlier this week IFPI released its Commercial Piracy Report 2005. Apart form listing those countries that violate copyrights the most (Paraguay: 99% of discs sold are illegal copies!), it also names thoses countries where future actions will be concentrated to take out pirate production and burning equipment. In 2004, 1.2bn CDs (34% of volume sales) were illegal, representing a $4.6bn value. It remains to be seen how succesful these efforts will be.