Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Advisory

Electronic Frontier Foundation Defends Freedom to Innovate in Grokster Appeal

For Immediate Release: Friday, January 30, 2004

San Francisco - On Tuesday, February 3, a federal appeals court will hear an entertainment industry appeal in MGM Studios v. Grokster, a case that will test the strength of the Supreme Court\'s famous "Betamax" decision in the digital arena.

"MGM v. Grokster is about whether copyright owners have the right to veto new technologies and stifle innovation," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Innovators have a great deal at stake in the conflict over peer-to-peer (P2P) software."

Case: MGM Studios v. Grokster
(case numbers 03-55894, 03-55901, and 03-56236)
Date: 1:30 pm on Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Location: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
125 South Grand Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105
Courtroom 3
Judges: Hon. Robert Boochever, Hon. John Noonan, Hon. Sydney Thomas

In April 2003, StreamCast (developer of Morpheus) and fellow P2P software distributor Grokster won a landmark victory against 28 entertainment companies when a federal court declared that the software distributors are not liable for copyright infringement by software users when the software had significant legal uses. Examples of legal uses include test marketing of copyrighted music by record companies, sharing music by artists, like Janis Ian, who permit the distribution of live music recordings, and sharing public domain materials such as the works of Shakespeare, NASA photographs, and films in the Prelinger archives.

In ruling that filesharing software deserves the same protection granted to the VCR or photocopier, the court relied on the 1984 Supreme Court decision determining that Sony could not be held responsible for copyright infringement by people who use Betamax VCRs.

The entertainment companies have appealed the case to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

EFF represents StreamCast in the MGM v. Grokster case, along with co-counsel Charles Baker of the Austin, TX, firm of Munsch, Hardt, Kopf & Harr, and StreamCast in-house General Counsel Matthew A. Neco.