Los Angeles - Attorneys argued in federal court today over a copyright lawsuit brought by entertainment companies against StreamCast Networks, maker of the popular Morpheus peer-to-peer (P2P) software.
Federal District Court Judge Stephen Wilson will likely rule on both sides' motions for summary judgment, or rapid resolution of the case, within the next few weeks.
Major entertainment companies sued the technology companies behind the Morpheus, Grokster, and Kazaa P2P software claiming the technology companies should be responsible for the public's use of the software to infringe copyrights.
The entertainment companies asked that the court rule in their favor without a trial. StreamCast and Grokster filed motions arguing that these software companies are no more liable for copyright infringement than Sony was for distributing the Betamax VCR.
After this afternoon's two-hour session, Judge Wilson announced that he will issue a ruling shortly, but that the ruling may be a "speaking order" where he will invite the parties to give additional comment before a final ruling. No trial date has yet been set.
"This case is broader than StreamCast and P2P technology," said Steve Griffin, Streamcast's CEO, who attended the hearing. "It is about the rights of consumers to share information freely and technology companies to innovate freely."
"This case is not about stopping piracy; it's about controlling new technologies," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. EFF is serving as counsel to StreamCast along with the law firm of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. "The entertainment companies would like to transform copyright law into the power to crack down on technology innovators," said Charles Baker, attorney with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. "We don't think the judge will give them that power and look forward to his ruling."
The case is MGM v. Grokster, CV 01-08541 SVW (PJWx), and is pending before Judge Wilson in the U.S. federal district court for the Central District of California.
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Documents related to Metro-Goldwyn Mayer v. Grokster case: