Los Angeles - Championing technological innovation, MusicCity, creator of the Morpheus software, is asking a federal district court today to recognize that the many legal uses of Morpheus software should prevent any ban on the product.
Because people are now using, and will in the future use the Morpheus peer-to-peer (P2P) software to obtain and trade creative works legally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and lead counsel Andrew Bridges are asking the court to reject entertainment industry claims that the software has no significant purpose other than contributory copyright infringement.
Morpheus software users currently access a broad variety of materials, including public domain texts from Project Gutenberg, "shareware" programs like the WinZip file compression software, films from the Prelinger Archive, music videos from Lil'Romeo and others distributed with permission by J!VE Media Technologies, and live concert recordings authorized by musicians.
The MusicCity legal team bases its request to the court on the famous Sony Betamax case, in which the motion picture industry tried to outlaw VCRs. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that even if some people use a new technology to infringe copyrights, that does not justify an outright ban on that technology.
MusicCity also cites the Napster case, noting that the court held Napster liable based on Napster's operation of a centralized file-indexing service, but it never held Napster liable for, or enjoined, creation or distribution of its software. In its ruling on Napster, the 9th Circuit warned, "To enjoin simply because a computer network allows for infringing use would, in our opinion, violate Sony and potentially restrict activity unrelated to infringing use."
"MusicCity's technology is the kind of technology protected under both the Betamax and Napster decisions -- technology capable of substantial noninfringing uses that is turned over to the control of users," noted Andrew Bridges. "The U.S. Supreme Court strongly upheld the principle that a beneficial technology cannot be banned just because users may abuse the technology," stated Bridges, partner in Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati's Palo Alto office.
"The studios' legal attack against P2P is the latest battle in the industry's long war to kill any technology it cannot control," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney. "We shouldn't outlaw file-sharing programs simply because some people misuse them."
On October 2, 2001, twenty-eight of the world's largest entertainment companies sued MusicCity, the Nashville-based developer of the leading P2P file-sharing program Morpheus, for the infringing actions of users of its product (MGM et al v. Grokster et al, Case No. 01-CV-8541 SVW). MusicCity has requested a February 25 hearing before the Honorable Stephen V. Wilson, U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District of California in Los Angeles.
Although referred to as MusicCity in the court case, StreamCast Networks is the company currently maintaining the Morpheus software product and MusicCity.com website.
"Morpheus is about a technological breakthrough in the way that people share information", said Steve W. Griffin, Chairman and CEO of StreamCast Networks. "We are allowing people to communicate, buy, sell, and exchange with much greater ease than ever before."
Documents related to Metro-Goldwyn Mayer v. Grokster case:
U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Betamax case, Sony Corp.
of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.:
9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in RIAA v. Napster:
Related music publisher lawsuit against MusicCity:
EFF Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression: