Dispatch from SCOTUSblog
describes a big loss for the makers of peer-to-peer file sharing software in the Grokster case at the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that developers of software violate federal copyright law when they provide computer users with the means to share music and movie files downloaded from the Internet, at least when the software companies take "affirmative steps to foster infringement."
In a decision announced by Justice David H. Souter, the Court said: "We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties" -- that is, computer users using free downloading software.
A sweeping victory for music recording companies and movie studios, the ruling set the stage for a major legal assault on rampant file-sharing of copyrighted works by attacking the software designers -- a much more promising legal avenue than suing infringing users directly.
Souter's majority opinion is available here
(pdf file download). There were two concurring opinions, here
. SCOTUSblog has created a Grokster "sub-blog"
featuring analysis and commentary on the ruling.